Storage and collection of rural hazardous waste

It’s time to clean out the shed!

A safe way to dispose of unwanted chemicals and hazardous wastes

The Ministry for the Environment is concerned about unwanted hazardous substances sitting around on properties in rural New Zealand.

Some of these chemicals may be stored in leaking, damaged or unlabelled containers. Some may have lost their effectiveness or may have already been on your property for years when you bought it or have since been banned.

Most of the chemicals can only be safely disposed of by specialist hazardous waste handlers.

To fix this problem the Ministry has launched a national clean-up in partnership with regional councils. The clean-up aims to help rural property owners across New Zealand safely dispose of unwanted chemicals and hazardous wastes.

Free collection service

Have you got old, unwanted or banned agricultural chemicals cluttering up your shed, barn or garage?

Do you have other types of rural hazardous wastes lying around your farm, orchard or horticulture block, in danger of leaking or being forgotten?

Leaking chemical containers can poison waterways, soil and groundwater. Storing hazardous wastes on land where food is produced, or where children and animals can come into contact with them, is a risk you can’t afford.

A free collection and disposal service for rural hazardous wastes is now available in your area. Help reduce the amount of dangerous chemicals that may be a hazard in rural areas by bringing in your unwanted chemicals for collection.

What can I get rid of?

In this region, your regional council will accept:

  • agricultural chemicals, including those that are:
    – banned, obsolete or deregistered*
    – unwanted or surplus
    – unlabelled or where the contents are unknown
    – stored in leaking or damaged containers (if you have chemicals stored in leaking or damaged containers, council staff will call at your property to collect them)
  • dairy shed cleaners
  • animal treatments
  • empty containers.

The collection does not cover:

  • explosives (eg, gelignite, boat flares and ammunition)
  • infectious substances
  • radioactive wastes
  • waste oil
  • paint
  • vehicle batteries
  • general household or farm wastes.

If you’re unsure of what you’re allowed to keep, a list of all registered chemicals
can be found at:

Safety checklist

  • Check the labels on containers and follow any handling instructions. Use protective clothing and equipment such as a mask and gloves.
  • Don’t eat, drink or smoke when handling chemicals.
  • Keep hazardous substances away from children, food, animal feed, seeds, fertiliser or flammable material such as petrol or oil.
  • Check if any containers are damaged or leaking. Put leaking containers inside another secure container and put a label on the outside describing the contents.
  • For hazardous substances you wish to store, place them in a dry, well-ventilated and securely locked shed or cupboard and keep them off the ground.
  • Store chemicals in labelled containers (ideally their original container) with lids tightly closed.

Tips for transporting hazardous substances

  • Make sure all containers are securely packaged so they can’t leak or give off fumes.
  • Keep flammable and reactive materials separate from each other and other chemicals.
  • Line the vehicle with plastic sheeting to contain any spillages.
  • Put hazardous wastes in the boot or tray of your vehicle, not in the cab with you, or use a trailer.
  • Keep the load dry and avoid wet weather conditions.

Important information

  • Never tip old or unwanted chemicals into drains or onto the ground, as this poisons waterways and could harm animals.
  • Avoid burying or burning chemicals. This releases toxic gases that may contain dioxin.
  • Never dump old or unwanted chemicals. Call your local council for advice on safe disposal options.

Rural hazardous waste free collection service - Northland

The Northland Regional Council is offering a new free collection service for your rural hazardous wastes.

To make it easier for you to rid your property of unwanted or old agricultural chemicals, we will be coming to a venue near your property soon to pick them up. To check the dates we will be in your area and the collection venues, keep your eye on your local newspaper or phone the Northland Regional Council.

If your chemical containers are in an unsafe or deteriorating condition, or you have a large quantity of chemicals, we will call at your property to collect them. Just call the council to arrange this.

Our specially-equipped vehicle, the HazMobile, complete with trained staff, will take away your hazardous wastes for safe, environmentally sound disposal.

How do you dispose of hazardous wastes at other times?

Hazardous wastes can be left at the four jointly-owned and operated Northland Regional Council/PGG Wrightson stores at Kaitaia, Waipapa, Dargaville and Whangarei. These facilities are not for commercial operators. Please contact the Northland Regional Council on 0800 002 004 for further details.

For more information

For more information on safety around hazardous substances, particularly for storing those you choose to keep, refer to:

  • the Environmental Protection Authority website:
  • the NZ Agrichemical Education Trust’s Code of Practice for the Management of Agrichemicals (NZS8409:1999).  Copies can be bought from or your local bookstore.

Or contact:

  • the NZ Agrichemical Education Trust (GROWSAFE®), phone/fax (04) 472 9997, email or visit
  • your regional council, or
  • your farmer/grower association.

This publication was published in June 2004 by the Ministry for the Environment, PO Box 10 362, Wellington, New Zealand