Waste Hazardous Substances

The safe disposal of redundant or unused agricultural chemicals and other waste hazardous substances is an issue for all communities, especially given the limited disposal options available in this country. Currently, only two commercial hazardous waste disposal facilities operate in the North Island, situated in Auckland and Wellington. While some New Zealand landfills offer co-disposal for low-key hazardous wastes, this option is not available in the Northland Region.

Some of the more hazardous agricultural chemicals held by farmers and horticulturists (especially persistent organic pollutants such as DDT, Heptachlor, Lindane or Dieldrin) cannot be legally disposed of in New Zealand. These chemicals require special disposal technologies such as high temperature incineration.

Collection and Operational Depots

The Regional Council and PGG Wrightson Limited jointly operate four collection depots, located in Kaitaia, Waipapa, Dargaville and Whangarei. The PGG Wrightson collection depots accept all received chemical wastes, which are documented before being placed in the store. Once stored, the waste becomes the responsibility of the Northland Regional Council, who regularly transport it to the Regional Council operational depot in Whangarei.

The Regional Council operational depot is purpose-designed for waste hazardous substances. At this depot the waste hazardous substances are repacked, labelled and placed in temporary storage until being despatched to Auckland for long-term storage or disposal. The Regional Council operational depot was moved from Pohe Island landfill to the new Whangarei District Council Resource Recovery Park in late October 2005.

Photo of the new hazardous waste substances store.The new hazardous wastes substances store.

Spill and safety equipment is available on-site at all PGG Wrightson collection depots, in the event of an emergency such as the accidental spill of chemicals. The Council regularly updates emergency procedures, as well as restocking equipment when necessary.

Northland Regional Council also operates a mobile collection service where individual properties throughout Northland are visited to recover chemicals that may be leaking, require repackaging or are in a deteriorating condition. The Council also provides assistance to private organisations requiring chemical disposal including the collection of laboratory wastes from schools and industrial wastes (such as solvents and timber treatment sludges).

Waste Hazardous Substances Collected

During the 2005-06 financial year approximately six tonnes of waste hazardous substances were collected for long-term storage, redistribution or pre-treatment. This is considerably less than the previous year, when approximately fourteen tonnes were collected.

The waste hazardous substances collected in the 2005-06 financial year included:

Empty containers

Approximately one tonne of empty containers were collected from throughout the region. These containers have not been counted in the total of hazardous substances collected. All containers were triple rinsed and the rinsate was collected and disposed of through a specialist waste company in Auckland. The majority of the containers were shredded and disposed of by the same contractor

Insecticides and fungicides

Approximately one tonne of insecticides and fungicides were collected from throughout the region with the majority of these products originating from the Kerikeri area like last year. Approximately 90% of the total volume of insecticides and fungicides collected were destroyed due to the deteriorating condition of the contents, or the labels being illegible and therefore the contents unknown.

Persistent Organic Pollutants

Approximately 900 kilograms of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP's) were collected, mainly during the mobile collection service. Some of the POP's handed in for destruction were particularly hazardous substances including quantities of DDT, Chlordane, 245t, 24d dust and Lindane. All of these wastes have been sent overseas for destruction by high temperature incineration.

Solvents and laboratory chemicals

Approximately one tonne of used solvents and laboratory chemicals were collected from schools, commercial laboratories and commercial entities. In the case of the solvents the majority were reconstituted and recycled, while the laboratory chemicals were all disposed of through an Auckland based specialist waste management company.


Approximately three tonnes of herbicides were collected from throughout the region, predominately from the four jointly owned and operated Northland Regional Council and PGG Wrightson collection depots. Approximately 50% of the herbicides collected are still readily available on the market and legal to use. These were redistributed to land care groups and other organisations for weed control. The remainder of herbicides collected were in a deteriorating condition and were exported to Europe for destruction.


Agrecovery is a New Zealand wide plastic container stewardwship developed for the agriculture and forestry sector. It will give farmers and growers access to a sustainable and environmentally preferred disposal alternative to landfilling or burning their containers.

The programme will be funded on an ongoing basis by way of a levy on products put in the market by participating brand owners (agriculture and forestry product manufacturers). The Agrecovery foundation will manage all facets of the scheme.

Agrecovery has agreed to provide shipping containers or similar for the temporary storage of agrichemical containers. It is likely that these containers will be located near Kerikeri and in Whangarei. The programme will commence in early 2007.

Storage and disposal of waste hazardous substances

As mentioned previously, there are no facilities available in New Zealand for the disposal of many of the waste hazardous substances dealt with by the Council. As New Zealand produces a relatively small volume of waste hazardous substances, it appears unlikely that any New Zealand based disposal technology will become available in the short or long-term.

Under the Basel Convention, waste hazardous substances can be shipped elsewhere for disposal, at high temperature incineration units in Canada, Europe, or the United States for example. A French company, with a branch in Auckland, currently holds the licences for the export and destruction of the Council's waste hazardous substances.

The Regional Council has at present a small amount of waste hazardous substances stored in Auckland, as the majority of it has recently been sent overseas for destruction (arranged through Ministry for the Environment). The remaining waste hazardous substances are packed in UN approved containers and stored in licensed premises. The Council regularly inspects the integrity of the containers and their contents until they are sent overseas for destruction.

Photo of packing shed for waste hazardous substances.Packing shed, where waste hazardous substances are packed and sealed in drums for storage.