There are a wide range of chemicals and other potentially hazardous products available for household use, including cleaners, paints, solvents, motor oils, hobby chemicals and pesticides. The safe disposal of left over and/or unwanted chemicals is a problem in many households. Unwanted chemicals can accumulate and may lead to their disposal in an unsafe manner or location. Many of these chemicals are incorrectly disposed of into landfill or urban sewerage.
Most people agree that more needs to be done to help us make informed decisions about chemicals in our environment. By making smart decisions when you buy and dispose of household chemicals, you can make a real difference to the impact you make on the environment and the health of your community.
What can I do about household chemicals?
Be informed and find out more. OEH’s website on chemicals and pesticides offers a comprehensive listing of resources and support for household use and disposal of chemicals from your home and garden, including do-it-yourself renovation. You can also find out about sustainable approaches to household cleaning and gardening, safe pet care and renovation advice.
Our Environment - It's a living thing has lots of tips and ideas for choosing safer chemicals and reducing their impact on the environment. You'll also find specific advice for handling the chemicals you use for cleaning, building and renovating and in the laundry.
Use ‘green’ cleaning products. Natural or ‘green’ cleaning is a way to clean your home while producing less waste and reducing the need for harmful chemicals. You can find out how using our Easy Green Cleaning guide.
CleanOut your chemicals for free! If you have old, unwanted or leftover chemicals lying around cluttering up your house, shed or garage, you can drop them off and get rid of them for FREE through OEH’s Household Chemical CleanOut program. CleanOut events are scheduled throughout the year, all across NSW. Check the locations and dates for upcoming CleanOut events near you or contact your local council.
Be pesticide smart. Pesticides can be useful products in the garden but they can harm human health and the environment if not used, stored and disposed correctly. It is important to use all pesticides correctly and to deal with pesticide wastes, such as surplus pesticides and pesticide containers, in an environmentally sound manner. OEH's household guide to handling pesticide wastes outlines the correct handling and disposal procedures for small quantities of pesticides. Pesticides can also be taken to CleanOut events.
What is OEH doing about household chemicals?
OEH is responsible for regulating the use of chemicals and pesticides in NSW to reduce exposure and minimise impacts on the environment. This involves developing and enforcing chemical control and pesticide use laws, including regulating remediation technologies for treating chemical and pesticide wastes and controlling major industrial spills and other hazardous incidents. OEH also provides information and advice on management of chemicals and pesticides.
You can learn more about how chemicals and pesticides are managed in Australia through National Chemicals Management and NSW Pesticides Management.
Page last updated: 11 September 2012