Councils given a chemical rev-up


The list of prohibited rubbish at Masterton’s transfer station. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

Consumer NZ calls for more hazardous waste disposal options

Consumer NZ has given councils a rev-up about the lack of options for disposing of hazardous household chemicals and for shunting people to a charity which was set up to handle agriculture waste.

To put pressure on councils to do a better job, the consumer watchdog has compiled a nationwide survey of the facilities councils provide to safely dispose of chemicals ranging from cleaning products to weedkillers.

An interactive function allows people to check up and compare their council and others.

Masterton, Carterton, South Wairarapa and Tararua district councils all come up with “accepts none” on the tool and the alternative for three of them is the Agrecovery charity.

The alternative for South Wairarapa is “neighbouring council Hutt City”.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said councils needed to do more.

Toxic, corrosive, flammable and explosive products carry warnings not to throw them out with the general rubbish, but don’t tell you what to do with them instead, she said.

“But how are people supposed to dispose of them if the council doesn’t want them?”

Of the 67 councils Consumer NZ surveyed, two-thirds accept the four categories of rubbish year-round at landfills, a recycle centre or a waste “transfer station” – the processing site before the rubbish goes to a dump.

But Masterton District Council assets and operations manager David Hopman said the Nursery Rd transfer station does, in fact, accept hazardous waste such as paints, chemicals, vehicle batteries, gas bottles and e-waste in small,
non-commercial quantities, free of charge.

This waste must be separated from landfill rubbish and residents should let operators in the kiosk know they have hazardous waste to dump.

“Following on from Consumer NZ’s work we’ve looked at the information we have available, including on our website.

“We will be making improvements so residents are aware they can dispose of domestic volumes of hazardous waste free of charge at the Nursery Road transfer station.

“People with commercial volumes can approach services providers, such as Agrecovery.”

A spokeswoman for Carterton District Council said the council’s website provides sufficient information about hazardous waste disposal.

“We currently don’t have a consent to manage the disposal ourselves, and do not currently have a demand that would require us pursuing one.”

Consumer NZ says Agrecovery is a charity scheme which is really for agrichemicals such as herbicides and pesticides but not solvents and varnish.

It has collection events throughout the country, including in Masterton, Martinborough, Featherston, Pahiatua and Dannevirke

Chetwin says councils could also do a better job of providing online information for residents needing to dispose of hazardous chemicals.

“Unless you know what you’re looking for, this information can be really hard to find on many local government websites. We hope our guide will make it easier for people to dispose of these products safely.”

To view the Consumer guide, go to consumer.org.nz, and type “hazardous waste” into the search field.

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