Hazardous waste

There is no completely safe way to dispose of household hazardous waste. Before purchasing a hazardous product ask yourself if there is a safer alternative. Think about how you can dispose of what you buy safely.

Simple rules to follow when using hazardous products:

  • Select the least toxic products that work for you in your home. Cleaning or washing products with the SABS A-E mark are ’environmentally-acceptable’ and SANS approved
  • Invest in a good fly swat and avoid chemical insecticides. Some contain chemicals such as Lindane, that are banned in Europe as they are linked to cancer, neural damage and asthma
  • Buy only what you need (smaller amounts) to avoid storing dangerous products
  • Read the label for ingredients, instructions for use, safe storage and disposal
    Buy products with listed ingredients. Medical staff will know how to treat poisoning.
  • Ensure that the product is clearly marked and keep the contents in the original container
  • Avoid aerosol sprays as much as possible. These cannot be recycled or disposed of safely
  • Keep hazardous products away from children and pets
  • Never mix hazardous products as they could react with each other
  • Always use in a ventilated area and with extreme care
    Never smoke or eat while using chemicals and always wash your hands after use.
  • Keep the container tightly closed. If a container is leaking, put the original container in a spill-proof secondary container that is durable and label it ‘LEAKING’.
  • Store in cool, dry and dark place away from stoves or water heaters


Paints, solvents and glues

30 cans of mostly toxic waste are produced for every can of commercial paint manufactured. Paints by mass are one of the most energy-consuming building products. Another shocking fact is that more people die in house fres from toxic fumes (from old lead paints and other hazardous products in the home) than from the smoke itself. Most common wood preservatives that act as fungicides and insecticides are highly poisonous years after the product has been used.

Safer alternatives

  • If paints or wood preservatives are used, select those with low-toxicity levels. Breathecote and EnviroTouch offer some good products.
  • For wood finishes, products containing boron (low to moderate toxicity) can be used. Boron wood treatment conforms to SANS specifcations. However, products containing boron are prone to leaching and therefore timber painted with boron products should not be buried in the ground or submerged in water. When used externally, it is important to apply further oil or wax treatments.
  • Good quality water-based or low-solvent paints, glues, varnishes and preservatives offer reasonable alternatives.
  • Nail carpets to the floor rather than using glue.

For more about selecting environmentally-friendly wood read urban sprout's green guide.

source: SMART Living Handbook

Batteries & CFLs

Up until recently you couldn’t recycle batteries or CFLs at all in South Africa. However, Uniross provide battery recycling boxes in Pick n Pay stores nationwide for rechargeable batteries NOT normal batteries – a huge incentive to buy rechargeables if you’re not already. You can also recycle rechargeable batteries at Macro stores.

And Philips have teamed up with Pick n Pay to facilitate the collection of CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) in some of their stores countrywide. Philips have a recycling plant going up in Lesotho. Woolworths too are collecting CFLs at selected stores.

Find out where to recycle CFLs

Source: urban sprout

Other waste topics:

Reduce, reuse, recycle
What you can, and can't, recycle
Start a compost heap or worm bin
Safe, alternative cleaning products
Dealing with creepy crawlies naturally

Go green home