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Monthly amnesty day for hazardous waste collection

30 Sep 2020, 12:00 PM

Health and safety requirements are triggering a move to monthly amnesty days for hazardous substance disposal in Whangārei, the Northland Regional Council (NRC) advises.

The amnesty days will allow hazardous waste to be taken to the city’s Re:Sort centre to ensure experienced regional council waste management staff and a contractor are on hand to identify substances, sort them, and store them safely for disposal.

Regional councillor Jack Craw says while the overall Kioreroa Rd-based facility is Whangārei District Council-operated, hazardous waste disposal has continued to be managed by NRC.

“The regional council has operated a hazardous waste collection service for many years – even though is it is not legally required to do so – and the current service is provided in partnership with our Whangārei District counterpart and Northland Waste.” 

Councillor Craw – one of two councillors who represents the NRC’s Whangārei Urban constituency – says currently the public can take hazardous waste to the Re:Sort centre at any time during opening hours.

“However, as of Monday 02 November 2020, this arrangement will change and we’ll be transitioning to a designated monthly amnesty day on a designated Tuesday in the month, the first one being Tuesday 17 November 2020.” 

Ali McHugh, the NRC’s Water and Waste Monitoring Manager, says one of the main drivers for the change is that roughly 15 percent of the containers dropped off at the hazardous waste centre are either unlabelled and/or in poor condition.

With the passing of time, fewer of the real nasties of the chemical world – long-banned chemicals like the herbicide 2,4,5-T, organochloride pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls – were emerging from Northland’s farms and woolsheds.

However, the occasional long-forgotten chemicals did sometimes emerge during clean ups of old garden sheds and farm stores and there are also a number of newer chemicals that needed to be handled and/or disposed of carefully.

“That’s why from a modern health and safety perspective it’s preferable we’re there when hazardous wastes are brought in to either identify those we can or ensure those we can’t are treated with appropriate care.”

Councillor Craw says this will cut health and safety risks in terms of both transporting and storing potentially incompatible, dangerous substances before they can be disposed of safely. It will also hopefully make things even more safe for staff/members of the public”

“We still see this as a valuable service for our residents and ratepayers and a way of protecting our environment by making it easier for people to get rid of hazardous materials safely at an appropriate facility where qualified people can ensure they are then safely disposed of.”

Ms McHugh says the amnesty days are for domestic hazardous waste in ‘household quantities’ only. “For the avoidance of doubt, household quantities are a maximum container size of up to 20 litres.” Similarly, she says the amnesty service is not for commercial users and commercial type waste will not be accepted.
Hazardous wastes that are suitable for disposal at the free amnesty days include:

  • agricultural chemicals (e.g. herbicides and pesticides),
  • pool chemicals (e.g. chlorine granules, bromine tablets, pH adjusters and water hardeners/softeners),
  • flammable substances (methylated spirits, mineral turpentine etc.) and;
  • corrosives (e.g. strong acids or alkalis).

The free monthly amnesty days will be widely advertised in the lead-up to the change, with the first hazardous waste disposal amnesty day scheduled for 17 November 2020 between the hours of 8 am and 12 noon.

Amnesty days 2020/2021:

  • Tuesday 17 November 2020
  • Tuesday 15 December 2020
  • Tuesday 19 January 2021
  • Tuesday 16 February 2021
  • Tuesday 16 March 2021
  • Tuesday 20 April 2021
  • Tuesday 18 May 2021
  • Tuesday 15 June 2021

General information on household hazardous waste is available online at www.nrc.govt.nz/hazardouswaste

If you have hazardous waste and you’re outside of the Whangārei District, please refer to your local district council for information on hazardous waste disposal.

ENDS

Further information:

• Jack Craw, Councillor, Whangārei Urban constituency, Northland Regional Council
Ph (021) 222 9064
• Ali McHugh, Water and Waste Monitoring Manager, Northland Regional Council
Ph (09) 470 1200

NRC Staff Member in yellow hazardous waste suit with bottle of weed killer and mystery waste (possibly coolant)Northland Regional Council staff member Nicola Bull (Compliance Specialist - Waste Management) with an example of a poorly-labelled container of a mystery, potentially hazardous waste (possibly some sort of coolant), left, and a well-labelled vessel with the remains of its original contents.