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How Do I Dispose of My Old Smoke Alarms?

Smoke alarms (or smoke detectors) are much like the millions of items of normal electrical and electronic waste that we generate each year. They are mostly made up of plastic, a bit of wiring, a few electronic components and a battery.

The old domestic ionisation chamber smoke detectors (ICSDs) contain a very small quantity of radioactive material, and can be identified by their markings – they will have the word “radioactive” or a radiation symbol (trefoil) marked on them.

These types of smoke detectors are not able to be recycled.

The general recommendation, even from Environmental Protection Agencies, is that smoke alarms be disposed of by distributing small numbers of them within large amounts of general waste.

The small amount of radioactive material in ICSDs is not a health or environmental hazard if disposed of safely by:

  • removing the battery from the ICSD
  • placing the intact ICSD in the general waste bin.

Batteries: The batteries at least are easily recycled and should be removed from smoke alarms before disposal. Officeworks and Aldi are just two national chains where battery collection is available.

Some states, like NSW hosts free Household Chemical CleanOut events where you can dispose of smoke alarms.

You may also be able to drop off old smoke alarms at Community Recycling Centres.

Please get in touch with your local Council to ask what facilities they have for disposing of smoke alarms safety and effectively.

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