What is it? Hazardous waste is any waste that presents an immediate or future, physical, chemical or biological threat to humans and/or the environment. In New Zealand, hazardous waste is the product of households, as well as commercial activities, industries and healthcare. The types of hazardous waste vary; they can be waste material that may contaminate or release into the atmosphere through combustion e.g, dioxins.
How is it managed in New Zealand? Hazardous waste can be treated in several ways:
• Chemically: Waste can be neutralised, undergo oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis and precipitation
• Physically: Waste can be encapsulated and/or separated
• Biologically: Through the use of microorganisms
• Thermally: Waste can be treated through controlled incineration
New Zealand manages the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste through a mix of legislation and regulation, strategy and guideline policies and non-regulatory methods (such as best practice guidelines and public awareness). Though the Resource Management Act 1991 does not directly address hazardous waste management, it is the RMA that grants resource consents and the conditions on the types of hazardous waste that can go to landfill and the designs of the landfill itself to minimise risk.