Disposal of hazardous waste and electrical items
Waste is hazardous when it has properties that might make it harmful to human health or the environment. The term 'hazardous' does not always mean that such waste is immediately harmful, though some can be.
Domestic hazardous wastes
Domestic wastes that may be hazardous include:
- fluorescent tubes
- lubricating oils and fuels
- uncleaned home heating oil tanks
- some paints
- car batteries
- some household batteries
- discarded electrical equipment such as TVs and computer monitors, fridges and freezers
- energy saving lightbulbs
Disposing of hazardous waste
Hazardous waste should not usually be disposed of in the mixed municipal waste collection, such as household and garden waste. In some cases, your local council may be able to collect the waste from you. There may be a charge for this. Or, you may be able to take it to a household recycling or civic amenity site free of charge. Your local council will be able to advise you on where to take all types of hazardous waste in your area.
You must make sure you store and dispose of oil safely and legally. You are also legally responsible for making sure that your oil doesn’t cause pollution.
If your waste oil is a lubricating oil, for example from a vehicle, put it into a container that isn’t damaged and has a secure lid. Dispose of it at your nearest waste oil bank. Never pour oil down a drain or onto the ground.
If you have waste fuel to dispose of, you need to be aware of the risk of fire or explosion. Don’t try to get rid of waste fuels yourself. Contact your local council for disposal advice.
Home heating oil tanks
All ‘uncleaned’ waste domestic heating oil tanks (contaminated with visible residues of kerosene) are seen as hazardous waste. Such tanks may only be taken to a suitably authorised facility with a hazardous waste consignment note.
The contractor either converting your heating system from oil to gas or replacing your old tank will normally look after the process above.
NIEA’s guidance document on the management of this waste stream may be accessed at the following link.
For more help contact the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs' hazardous waste unit.
Asbestos can become dangerous if it's broken. For advice on how to deal with asbestos, you should contact the Health and Safety Executive NI's asbestos advisory service.
You can also contact the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs' hazardous waste unit.
More information on asbestos can be found at the following nidirect page:
Leftover paint can be disposed of safely through your local council or donated to a national network of paint reuse organisations.
- Local councils in Northern Ireland
- What to do with paint
- Donate unwanted paint to a community project
Batteries, mobile phones and printer cartridges
For advice on disposing of and recycling batteries, mobile phones and printer cartridges, visit the following page:
Electrical equipment can contain chemicals such as lead and mercury. If not disposed of carefully, they can get into the environment and harm people and animals. The ‘crossed out wheelie bin’ symbol found on many electrical items means that they should not be put with normal household rubbish.
When buying a new electrical item, retailers need to either take back the old item you are replacing or tell you where you can take it for recycling.
Local councils may collect unwanted bulky white goods from your home but they may charge for the service. You can also take unusable items to a recycling centre.
Recycle your electricals
Anything with a plug or battery or cable can be recycled and re-used (including the cables). You can make a difference.
Type your postcode into the following link to find your nearest recycling or donation point – it may be closer than you think.
Energy saving light bulbs
Energy saving light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and are classed as hazardous waste. You should not throw them into your normal rubbish or household recycling bin. In most parts of Northern Ireland, they can be recycled at your local council’s household waste recycling centre.
Illegal dumping of hazardous waste
If you spot hazardous waste being dumped illegally, you should contact your local council or the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Find out how to do this in Report polluted land and water.