How to Manage Industrial Waste At Home

Here’s how you can properly extend the life or properly discard these items without compromising safety and environmental responsibility.
household waste recycling

Industrial products are some of the most challenging items to recycle and discard by households. That is partly because they are made to be very durable, and partly because of their potentially hazardous composition. 

It is important to keep in mind these waste management regulations

As a responsible consumer, you want to do your part in minimising your waste footprint.  

Has it stopped working?  

Can you still have it repaired?  

Can you give it to someone else who can still use it? 

As much as possible, it’s great to reuse and recycle the product before finally (and properly) disposing of it. 

Speaking of reusing and recycling, are they the same? 

 

Reuse vs recycle 

The difference: 

  • Reuse: You use a product, then you (or others) consume it again as it is, for the same purpose. Examples are used books, bags and clothes that can still be used by other people. It’s loosely similar to “repurposing”, where you (or others) consume the product for a different purpose. For example, electric cables and metal/wooden rods being creatively turned into a laundry pole. 
  • Recycle: You use a product, then you (or a facility) take its components/materials and convert them into a different item, for a different purpose. Examples are used batteries, electrical devices and scrap metal that are processed to be used as a raw material in production. 

The similarity: 

  • Both reusing/repurposing and recycling aim to extend the life of the product, or its components, before it is finally disposed of. Of course, not all products can be, nor should be, reused and recycled, as some could be harmful both to humans and the environment. 

Disclaimer: We have listed some recycling centres here merely for your convenience. We do not endorse them in any way or form. Contact them at your own expense and risk. The list is not exhaustive, so if you have something to add, please let us know via email. 

 

What not to throw in your household bin 

According to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, these items are not suitable for general garbage collection: 

  • Paint and paint-related products (thinners, strippers, varnishes etc) 
  • Household chemicals (solvents, cleaners, turpentine, methylated spirits) 
  • Cooking oils, motor oils, fuels, degreasers 
  • Batteries and car batteries 
  • Pesticides, herbicides and poisons (fungicides, baits, poisons, wood preservatives) 
  • Pool chemicals 
  • Acids and alkalis 
  • Fluorescent globes and tubes 
  • Hobby chemicals 
  • Gas bottles and fire extinguishers 
  • Electronic waste (old computers, DVDs, televisions and cables) 
  • Asbestos and fibro sheeting 

With that out of the way, here’s how you can properly recycle and dispose of industrial products that you likely have at home. 

How to recycle: 

How to dispose of:  

 

How to recycle adhesive packaging 

Loctite glue may be one of the most common industrial household products out there, but the proper disposal method of its packaging may not be common knowledge. 

Henkel, the global manufacturer of Loctite, has partnered with TerraCycle to offer a solution to recycle adhesive packaging. Through the LOCTITE® Anaerobic Adhesive Recycling Program, you can buy a postage-paid recycling box that you can fill with empty anaerobic Loctite adhesive containers. Then, you can send it to TerraCycle for processing. 

They will thermally treat the containers and turn them into new plastic products. 

Where to take your old Loctite containers:  

 

How to recycle aerosol cans  

Aerosol cans are mostly made of aluminium and steel, both of which are recyclable metals. 

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation estimates that only around 56% of post-consumer metal packaging (including aerosols) was recovered in 2019 and 2020. The rest went into landfill. We can do better. 

After all, the opportunities and channels for recycling empty aerosol cans are virtually everywhere. This applies to any aerosol can, whether the chemical it contained was meant for hygiene (eg deodorant sprays), household (eg disinfectant sprays) or commercial use. 

(More info here courtesy of Planet Ark.) 

Important: 

  • Make sure the can is empty. 
  • Do not force-empty to the point where you unnecessarily release its contents and residue into the air. 
  • Do not crush, flatten, pierce or puncture the can, as it may explode and injure you. 
  • Remove the plastic cap and recycle it separately. 

Where to take your old aerosol cans: 

 

How to recycle batteries 

Ideally, you are using rechargeable batteries when you can, so you don’t contribute as much to disposable battery waste. Fortunately, most batteries are recyclable, although different types of batteries call for different recycling methods. 

(More info here courtesy of the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative.) 

Batteries you can recycle: 

  • Disposable alkaline batteries (those in your toys, remote controls and small devices) 
  • Rechargeable nickel cadmium (Ni-Cad) batteries (those in your smartphone, laptop and camera) 
  • Car batteries 

Important: 

  • Batteries may contain harmful substances such as cadmium, lead, mercury and nickel, so handle them with care.  
  • Car batteries contain lead acids, so don’t ever try to open them. 

Where to take your old batteries and battery packs: 

 

How to recycle electric motors  

You’ll find electric motors in appliances such as fans, pumps, blowers and power tools. Once they stop working, you'll probably consult a technician first to see if the item can be repaired. 

When the damage is irreversible or it’s just too worn and torn to repair, don’t throw away the entire appliance or machine just yet. There’s a good chance you can just have the old motor replaced and take the old one to a recycling centre. 

Important: 

  • Don’t try to disassemble the motor to sell it part by part. Most recycling centres will take the entire unit as it is. 

Some recycling centres that buy old electric motors and scrap metal: 

 

How to recycle power tools 

Tools used to end up in landfill, but not anymore. Now, they fall under the “e-waste” category so, you can recycle them. 

Important: 

  • Don’t try to disassemble them, as they may contain components with hazardous materials such as lead, arsenic and mercury. 
  • They typically contain aluminium, copper and hard plastics, so make sure they end up in a proper recycling facility. 
  • Different recycling processes may apply to those with built-in batteries (specifically nickel, cadmium and lithium). 

Where to take your old power tools: 

 

How to dispose of blades, knives and cutting tools 

Before throwing out dull knives and blades, check if you can still have them sharpened so they can be used again. If you decide to dispose of them or sell them as scrap metal, do so responsibly and without compromising the safety of the collector. 

Important: 

  • If you discard them in the trash bin, make sure they are not left sticking out. 
  • Wrap the blade in multiple layers of covering. You don't want them to cause serious cuts to garbage handlers and sanitation workers. 
  • Cover them with bubble wrap, then add a layer of cardboard, before finally placing them in a box. 
  • Seal the box with duct tape and properly mark it. 

 

How to dispose of garden hoses 

An interesting tip courtesy of itsallyou.org: Do not send garden hoses off for recycling.  

This is because garden hoses, along with ropes, chains and cords, are what recycling facilities refer to as "tanglers", meaning they are known to tangle up equipment, causing machine breakdowns and safety concerns for workers. 

If you think your hose is on its way out, think of ways to repurpose them first.  

Here are some good ideas from One Good Thing

  • Turn it into a soaker hose by puncturing holes in it.
  • Slide it over chains and handles for easier grip.
  • Splice a section of the hose and slit it down the sharp edge of blades and cutting tools to give you additional protection (from inflicting cuts). 

 

How to dispose of household chemicals, leftover paints and oils 

This applies to cleaning chemicals, leftover paints, oils and filters, and their packaging. As they could contain solvents and metals that could contaminate groundwater and clog water treatment facilities, make sure to discard them properly and away from the drain. 

Important: 

  • Make sure the containers are empty before throwing them out. 
  • Don’t flush powders, oils, hand wipes, or towelettes down the drain. 
  • Don’t mix products (eg liquids and gels) upon disposal. 
  • Don’t reuse contaminated oil. 
  • Not all liquids are safe to flush down the drain. 
  • Read the label for directions on proper disposal. 

Where to take your household chemicals and leftover paints: 

CleanOut accepts up to 20L, or 20kg, of a singular item of:  

  • Solvents and household cleaners 
  • Ammonia-based cleaners 
  • Floor care products 
  • Paint and paint-related products (thinners, strippers, varnishes) 
  • Pesticides, herbicides and poisons (fungicides, baits/poisons, wood preservatives) 
  • Pool cleaners 
  • Hobby chemicals 
  • Acids and alkalis 
  • Motor oils, fuels and fluids 

They also accept: 

  • Fluorescent globes and tubes 
  • Gas bottles and canisters 
  • Fire extinguishers 
  • Batteries and car batteries

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How to dispose of screws and other fasteners 

Your first choice should always be to recycle nails, screws, nuts, bolts, washers and other scrap metals.  

Gather all your spare fasteners and keep them in a container.  

If they are too rusty to be reused, then you may need to just throw them away. Be careful not to put them in your household trash bin, as it will take years for these items to rust away in a landfill. 

Where to take your fasteners and other metal waste: 

  • Your neighborhood scrap metal yard 
  • Sims Metal 

 

Check with your local council 

There’s a good chance your local council is regularly coordinating recycling and proper waste disposal activities. 

Here’s a comprehensive list of council contact information compiled by Planet Ark. 

 

What about other materials not mentioned here? 

We will update this article regularly to cover more disposal and recycling information about industrial materials that you might be using at home.  

For now, keep in mind that not all items can be recycled or easily disposed of. 

If in doubt, read the label!  

There's usually sufficient information in there to guide you through responsible waste disposal or recycling of the material. 

For an extensive list of guidance on how to dispose or recycle materials, check out these websites: