Types of Waste

Managing waste properly is critical to maintaining the health and viability of your property and the surrounding land and waterways.  Rural residential properties typically have a wide range of wastes to deal with, including:

  • Household wastes - excess packaging usually picked up by recycling and garbage services in suburban areas, but often not in rural areas.
  • Organic matter (such as animal manure, vegetation and food scraps)
  • Chemicals (such as herbicides, insecticides and fertilisers)
  • Large waste items - such as batteries, tyres, oils, old machinery
  • Dead animals – particularly larger livestock such as cows and horses

Managing each of these waste streams sustainably will help to keep your property functioning and can even save you time and money.  There are three main steps to reducing waste: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.


The initial step of reducing waste is to avoid bringing it home in the first place.  Be mindful of the products you buy and how they are packaged.  Are there alternatives available that have less packaging?  Is there packaging that can be composted or recycled?  Will the retailer keep the packaging or take it away?  Are there products available that are manufactured from recycled products?  Will buying in bulk quantities reduce the amount of waste (eg through reduced packaging)?  Are there alternatives to products containing materials such as chemicals which would be difficult to dispose of?  Will the retailer or manufacturer take back the items at the end of their useful life?


Reusing items, instead of disposing of them as waste saves you money on landfill costs, and on purchasing new items.  Before throwing things away, ask yourself; can the item be safely used for any other purpose on your property?  Could someone else use your unwanted items, such as a neighbour or charity?


Recycling waste means your waste materials are reprocessed into new products.  A variety of waste materials can be recycled including; plastic, glass, paper and cardboard, steel, aluminium and other metals, batteries, mobile phones, oil and tyres.  Recycling facilities are available in most areas, via collection events, free drop off points or reduced fees at landfill tips for dropping off sorted recyclable materials. There are some specific programs available for recycling items such as mobile phones (which contain heavy metals) and drumMUSTER a national program for the collection and recycling of empty, cleaned, non-returnable crop production and on-farm animal health chemical containers. Your Local Council can inform you about specific waste recycling programs in your area.





Local Council
NSW Environmental Protection and Regulation Group (within Office of Environment and Heritage)
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Local Rural Supplier




One of the easiest ways to reduce and recycle waste on a rural residential property is by composting all organic matter. Organic matter is any item derived from plants or animals, including straw, saw dust, paper, plant cuttings, food waste, animal manures, etc. There are different approaches to composting, suitable to any amount and type of organic matter. Small amounts (less than 20L per week) of food wastes and other organic matter can be dealt with by using a worm farm. Larger amounts of plant material and manure (a couple of wheelbarrows a month) will break down in a compost heap or bin over 2-3 months. You can purchase worm farms and compost bins or custom make them from materials on your property. For very large amounts of organic matter you can use multiple compost bins or a thermophilic composting method—this is where the composting process is accelerated by the heat generated by the breakdown of the organic matter. This has the added advantage of sterilizing seeds (and reducing germination of weeds). Adding compost (or uncomposted material such as mulch) to soil improves its water and nutrient holding properties and helps prevent runoff and erosion.


Never dispose of chemical wastes on your property - any leaks will pollute your soil, groundwater and streams. Chemical wastes may not be accepted at all landfill sites (due to risks of leaks) but there are alternatives available. ChemClear is a national program coordinating collection and disposal of unwanted rural chemicals.

General Waste

Other household and rural wastes should also be recycled or disposed of at properly managed landfill sites. Many products today contain materials that release toxins when disposed of (for example most electronic equipment contains heavy metals) and landfill sites are managed in ways to help stop toxins leaking into the environment. Dumping of waste on private land is illegal, with heavy fines applicible, which is enforced by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for more information visit http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/waste/s143questions.htm

Burning off waste is controlled under the Protection of the Environment Operation Act1997 and its regulation, the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation2002. The regulation provides a general obligation to stop or minimise air pollution. Itprohibits burning some articles, including tyres and certain preservative treated timbers,and allows burning of vegetation (on the property where it grew) in the course of carryingout agricultural operations. In some council areas restrictions apply to burning off and it is recommended that you know what these are before you light your first match. Always check with the local Rural Fire Service before you start any burning activities, and never burn off when there is a total fire ban or when the fire danger is high.

Stock and Large Animals

Transport of large dead animals to appropriate disposal sites may require commercial disposal services.  Ask your Veterinarian, Local Council, Rural Supplier or a neighbour about such services or other disposal methods.


Copyright 2011 HCCREMS