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Wollongong City Council

Problem Waste

Some types of waste are difficult to get rid of responsibly, like chemicals, asbestos and medical waste.

Below are some tips on how to deal with common types of problem waste.

You can also visit the Wollongong Waste website to Ask a Waste Expert your questions about recycling, waste and reuse.

If your house was built before 1990, there’s a good chance it contains asbestos somewhere. Common places you might find asbestos include walls, roofs and eaves, vinyl tiling, drains and oven or heating flues.

Visit the Asbestos Awareness website to learn more and get tips on how to protect yourself.

Handling and disposing of asbestos

Strict rules apply to handling and disposing of asbestos. If you’re removing more than 10 square meters of asbestos, you must use a licensed asbestos removalist.

See the NSW EPA website for more information about dealing with asbestos waste.

It is illegal to put asbestos in a household garbage bin or to dump it.

You cannot take asbestos to our waste disposal depot.

Companies that accept asbestos waste

The local companies below can accept asbestos waste. You should check with these companies to confirm pricing and other details.

You can find other facilities in New South Wales that accept household asbestos on the EPA website.

Batteries contain toxic liquids and metals. All types of batteries have the potential to start a fire - especially once they reach waste facilities.

They are dangerous and should not go in your bin!

There are several ways to safety dispose or your batteries:

  • Household and car batteries can be dropped off for free at our Community Recycling Centre
  • Drop household batteries off for safe recycling at our Community Recycling Stations, available at selected libraries.
  • Most Aldi stores have battery recycling bins for small household batteries - ask at your local store if you need help
  • Most battery stores accept used batteries for recycling. Find a location on the Recycling Near You website.

Our waste depot at Whytes Gully does not accept building waste.

Building waste includes, but is not limited to:

  • Bricks
  • Concrete
  • Mortar
  • Fibro Sheeting
  • Galvanised Iron Sheeting
  • Tiles
  • Hardboard
  • Gyprock
  • Plaster Sheeting
  • Timber
  • Excavation Materials (including clean and unclean fill).

There are some private businesses in our local area that accept building waste. Please search the internet for 'building waste Wollongong' to find available options.

There are many chemicals around your house that should be kept out of your bin and our landfill. This can include cleaning products, poisons, acids, pool chemicals and more.

Many common household chemicals can be taken to our Community Recycling Centre (CRC).

We also work with the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold a couple of free Household Chemical Cleanout Events each year. Details of what can be included in these cleanouts can be found on the EPA website or our Household Chemical Cleanout flyer PDF, 360.5 KB.

When you’re dropping off items at the CRC or a cleanout event, make sure you handle and transport chemicals carefully. Each item must be no larger than 20kg or 20 litres.

Please note, asbestos cannot be included in chemical cleanouts.

Chemical cleanout events

Used Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs)

Used Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are a type of medical waste and need to be disposed of carefully.

Please read the instructions that come with your RAT. They should explain how to properly dispose of a used test.

Some tests come with a plastic bag for disposal. If your kit doesn’t include a bag, you should place the used items from the test, including the swab, into a small plastic bag that can be sealed. This bag should be put into another bag that can be sealed and put in your red lid (general waste) bin.

Test kit materials are not recyclable.

Wash your hands carefully after completing the test and disposing of the test kit contents.

For more information about RATs, please see the NSW Government website.

Face masks

Please dispose of used face masks responsibly.

Single-use face masks should be put in your red lid (general waste) bin after use. If possible, put your mask in a sealed bag before placing it your bin to make sure others won’t touch it.

Most single-use masks contain soft plastics and cannot be recycled. They can also get caught in recycling equipment and be a hazard to waste workers.

For more information about using and disposing of face masks, please see the NSW Health website.

E-waste (electronic waste) is one of the fastest-growing types of waste in our community.

Many types of e-waste can be recycled.

See our E-waste page for more information.

Transport for NSW has a program to help boaters dispose of expired flares. The mobile collection program runs during the peak boating season (October to April) at sites across the Illawarra and South Coast. We'll add details of the next collection program to this page when they are available.

Most flares have a use-by date of three years, and must be replaced before the expiry date.

Flares contain explosive matter which makes it difficult to dispose of them safely and legally. Please handle and dispose of flares properly.

Visit the Service NSW website for more information.

Lightbulbs should be handled carefully as they can contain dangerous gases. Read more on the Recycling Near You website.

You can take fluorescent globes and tubes to our Community Recycling Centre.

IKEA stores also accept most kinds of light globes for recycling, even if you didn’t buy them there.

Lead can be found in many parts of your home - especially in older homes.

Some of the places you might find lead include:

  • old interior and exterior paint
  • in dust found in ceiling cavities, carpets or furniture
  • soil around your home
  • fumes from tools like heat guns or soldering irons that have come into contact with lead surfaces
  • water pipes
  • leadlight windows
  • PVC products
  • lead sheeting.

You can read more about lead and how to protect your health on the NSW EPA website or by downloading the Lead Safety brochure.

You can also buy lead test kits from most hardware stores.

VegeSafe soil testing program

Macquarie University has a free Vegesafe program tests soil for metals. If you’d like to know more, visit Macquarie University’s website.

If you need to get rid of a mattress, don't dump it - try these options:

  1. Book a free on-call household cleanup. Mattresses can be included in this collection, and will be recycled.
  2. Contact Soft Landing. This service by Community Resources recycles mattresses. You can book online to get your mattress picked up. Fees apply.
  3. Take your mattress to our waste depot for a fee.

Old medicine

Old medicines can be dangerous to you and your family, and bad for the environment.

Get rid of old or unwanted medicines at your local pharmacy through the Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) program.

Syringes

If you find needles or syringes on public or private land, call the Needle Exchange on (02) 4275 1529. They operate between 8 am and 5.30 pm Monday to Friday, and can quickly arrange collection by a qualified person in most cases during these hours.

If you feel ok about handling the discarded needle or syringe safely, follow these steps:

  • Place the needle in a strong puncture-proof container with a lid. Don't use a glass container as it can break.
  • Carry the container to the needle, place the needle inside the container and make sure the lid is on tightly.
  • Call the Needle Exchange to arrange for pick up or take it to a drop off location.

See these websites to learn more about disposing of needles or syringes:

Kidney dialysis patients

Council offers a Kidney Dialysis Residual Waste Service for households that have excessive residual waste associated with kidney dialysis which can't be managed using the standard collection service.

To apply for this service, please visit the Wollongong Waste website

Disposable nappies have a big impact on our environment. They can take over 400 years to start breaking down in landfill.

Using cloth nappies is an environmentally friendly alternative, and it doesn't have to be hard. Find our more on our Nappies page.

See below for ways you can safely get rid of unwanted oil-based or water-based paint. Paint should never be placed in your household bin.

Amount of paintDrop-off locationsNotes
Up to 20 litresCommunity Recycling Centre (CRC), Kembla GrangeAvailable for residential customers only.
Check the 'What you can drop off' section of our CRC page to confirm availability before you visit.
Up to 100 litresPaintback via Cleanaway Industrial Services
10 - 12 Waynote Place, Unanderra (off Five Islands Road) 
Available to residents and trade painters.
Paint must be in containers of 20 litres or less.

You can include up to six car or motorbike tyres in the free On-Call Household Cleanup.

You can now drop off x-ray film for free at our Community Recycling Centre and Community Recycling Stations (available at selected libraries).

Please remove your x-rays from the envelope before recycling. The envelope generally includes your personal details, so we recommend you take this home with you.

X-ray film can then be placed in the bin marked Waste Film Only.

If you need help locating the x-ray bin, please ask one of our staff wearing hi-vis jackets.

Please note, only household quantities are accepted (no commercial waste).

About x-ray recycling

Wondering what will be done with your old x-rays?

X-ray films are processed in a refinery to extract the silver. This is done by heating them at temperatures over 1000 degrees celcius.

The extracted silver is then turned into a more pure form of silver. This can be reused for things like silver solder, jewellery, silver plating, electrical parts, and making new film.