Hazardous waste disposal

Some waste produced from the home is classed as hazardous waste and therefore more care and attention is required to recycle or dispose of these materials to avoid harm to people or the environment.

  • Antifreeze
  • Asbestos (see important notes below)
  • Car batteries
  • Car tyres
  • DIY and garden chemicals
  • Electrical items, such as fridges, freezers, computer monitors.
  • Engine oil
  • Fire extinguishers (domestic only, charges may apply as per gas bottle rates)
  • Gas containers (charges apply)
  • Household batteries
  • Lead-based paint
  • Low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes (see notes below)
  • Paint thinners
  • Plasterboard
  • Plastic oil tank
  • Solvents

This is not a comprehensive list.

Hazardous wastes require special treatment, so please ask site staff if you are unsure whether the items you are disposing of should be classed as hazardous waste.

Also see advice on Japanese Knotweed and Common Ragwort and on Chalara dieback of ash trees.

  • Household chemicals including gardening, DIY and engine fluids
  • Low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes
  • Car batteries, tyres (charges apply) and engine oil
  • Household batteries, toner cartridges and mobile phones
  • Electrical items
  • Gas containers (charges apply). Empty gas cylinders or oxygen bottles can be returned to the original supplier or manufacturer. The manufacturer is usually identified on the side of the bottle.

The following are not accepted or require special handling:

  • Ammunition and explosives
  • Asbestos
  • Fireworks
  • Medicines
  • Mercury
  • Petrol and Diesel (fuel must be removed from all machinery intended for recycling)
  • Plastic oil tank (oil must be removed before taking tank to recycling site)
  • Roofing felt containing bitumen
  • Storage heaters

You can find further guidance in the sections below.

All of Somerset’s recycling centres have facilities for the safe recycling of low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes.

Some retailers have collection points for low energy light bulbs see Recycle Now or Recolight for local details.

If you have a broken low energy bulb or tube, handle with care as they contain mercury. Although accidental breakage is unlikely to cause any health problems, it’s good practice to minimise unnecessary exposure to mercury, as well as the risk of cuts from glass fragments. A vacuum cleaner should not be used to clear up a broken bulb or tube. Health Protection Agency advice is to:

Ventilate the room (15 minutes is suggested).

  • Place fragments in a plastic bag (you may wish to wear rubber gloves). The bag doesn’t need to be air tight but should be reasonably sturdy.
  • Wipe the area with a damp cloth, and then place that in the bag.
  • Sticky tape (for example, duct tape or similar) can be used to pick up small residual pieces or powder from soft furnishings. The tape can then be placed in the bag.
  • Double bag by sealing the bag and placing it in another similar bag and sealing that one as well.

When double bagged and sealed, the broken bulb can be taken to be put in the low energy light bulb bins at recycling centres. Please take care that glass fragments do not cut the sealed bags or your fingers.

Do not take ammunition or explosives to recycling centres. Take all care when dealing with such items. If you have any ammunition or explosives for disposal, phone the police on 101 or 999 if you have any concerns, and to get advice. If you find what could be unexploded ordnance, phone 999 immediately.

Arrangements for asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACM) disposal changed from 4 April 2016.
For asbestos disposal click here.

Do not put fireworks, even when fully spent, on the bonfire or bury them. Fully spent fireworks (but not if misfired or partly spent) can be put out with refuse or in disposal skips at recycling centres. Misfired or partly spent fireworks should be soaked in a container of water and the manufacturer or supplier should be contacted for guidance on disposal.

Please return unused medicines to a pharmacist. If you need a clinical collection for disposal of medical waste, contact your district council for details of the free clinical waste collection service.

Recycling sites do not accept mercury. You should contact specialist hazardous waste processors.

Please note that you cannot take petrol and diesel to the recycling centres. Petrol and diesel should be taken to a garage for reuse or disposal. Fuel must be removed from all machinery intended for recycling, such as mowers, strimmers etc.

Arrangements for plaster and plasterboard disposal changed from 4 April 2016.  You can find advice on plasterboard here.

You can take old plastic oil tanks to a recycling site for disposal free of charge. Before you arrive at a recycling site please ensure the tank is completely dry inside and contains no oil. Cut the plastic oil tank in half. This will help to drain the tank, and will make transportation and handling of the tank easier. Please contact your local recycling centre before arriving at the site to ensure they have capacity to accept your old tank.

Roofing felt that contains bitumen is classified as a hazardous waste and therefore can only be disposed of via the Priorswood Material Recovery Facility adjacent to the Taunton (Priorswood) Recycling Centre. To arrange disposal, call 01823 338035 (Option 4).  For prices, see “construction and demolition waste” on the SWP-Viridor commercial Waste Services price list on the business waste services page.

These may contain asbestos and so should not be broken up, but handled and disposal arranged in the same way as for cement bonded and sheet asbestos. You can find out more on our asbestos disposal page.