Frequently Asked Questions

Toxic waste is chemical waste material capable of causing death or injury to life. Waste is considered toxic if it is poisonous, radioactive, explosive, carcinogenic (causing cancer), mutagenic (causing damage to chromosomes), teratogenic (causing birth defects), or bioaccumulative (that is, increasing in concentration at the higher ends of food chains). Poisoning occurs when toxic waste is ingested, inhaled, or absorbed by the skin.

Hazardous wastes are wastes or products that have the potential to harm humans or the environment, either now or in the future. There are many options to help you dispose of household hazardous wastes safely, protect the environment and keep your home safe. 

Over the last two decades, there have been major changes to the way Cook Islanders manage their waste. Recycling has increased but so has the amount of waste we are generating, including the quantity of hazardous waste.

Examples of household hazardous waste include:

  • Solvent-based paints
  • Pesticides and other garden chemicals
  • Batteries (for example car, mobile phone or regular household batteries)
  • Motor oils (for example from cars or mowers)
  • Petrol and kerosene
  • Cleaning and polishing chemicals
  • Swimming pool or spa bath chemicals
  • Pharmaceuticals (all medicines)
  • Obsolete computer equipment
  • Thermometers, barometers, thermostats, fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent globes (CFLs).

To handle hazardous waste at home safely you should:

  • Keep the goods in their original containers if possible. If containers are leaking, use new containers but never use food containers like soft drink bottles.
  • Don’t mix chemicals when decanting a substance into a new storage container.
  • Make sure all labels, including warning labels and manufacturer’s instructions, remain intact on the packaging.
  • Store goods upright with lids secured tightly and out of the reach of young children.
  • Keep all ignition sources, such as matches, well away from the storage area.
  • Keep the storage area cool and dry.
  • Buy the smallest amount for your needs.

Always store hazardous wastes properly while waiting for a suitable disposal method. There are various ways to recycle and dispose of household hazardous waste. Here are a few ways or options:

  • Computers – materials used to make computer equipment contain valuable resources that can be re-used. They also contain hazardous materials that could pose a threat to the environment if they are not disposed of in a responsible manner. We don’t have the facility to accept computers. All you can do is dispose it somewhere that is not harmful to animals or to humans. 
  • Mobile phones and phone batteries – some mobile phones and accessories contain heavy metals. Mobile phone retailers, some banks and other retail stores will accept used mobile phones for recycling as part of MobileMuster, the mobile phone industry recycling program.
  • Rechargeable batteries – batteries can be taken to Detox your home collections and some permanent sites or to one of a small number of Batteryback or company-owned retail locations.
  • Car batteries – these are collected at many council waste transfer stations, landfills and some major battery retailers. Contact your local council.
  • Gas cylinders (LPG) – these include cylinders used for BBQs, patio heaters, caravans, camping and lamps. These cylinders can be returned through swap programs provided by retailers for replacement, refilling or disposal. Charges may apply in some instances.
  • Used motor oils – these can be recycled. There are over 100 motor oil collection points at transfer stations across Victoria. You can return a maximum of 20 litres of motor oil per visit. Contact your local council or use the Oil directory.
  • Laser and printer inkjet cartridges – these can be taken to Australia Post and Harvey Norman outlets for recycling.
  • Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent globes (CFLs) – fluorescent lamps and other mercury products, including mercury spills, can be taken to Detox your home collections, selected retail outlets and some permanent sites.
  • Plastic shopping bags – supermarkets have collection bins for used plastic shopping bags for recycling. Plastic shopping bags create an ugly litter problem if not recycled or disposed of properly. If these bags get into waterways, they may be a threat to wildlife.
  • Unused medicines – take unused pharmaceuticals, including prescription and non-prescription drugs, to a pharmacist for disposal through the Return of Unwanted Medicines program. Always store unused pharmaceuticals out of reach of children before you dispose of them.

Please call the Building Inspection Division on +682 20321 from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.  Inspections called in or emailed by 4pm will be scheduled for the next business day, excluding holidays.

No. However, you must follow the Cook Islands Building Code 2019 with respect to building permits and establishing residency in the home that you are constructing.  In addition, you must supervise the construction yourself, and you may only build or improve a one family or two family residence without a contractor’s license. Also, as the owner of the residential building or structure you should promptly file as a matter of public record a notice with the register of deeds, indexed under your name in the grantor’s index, stating that the residential building or structure was constructed by the owner as an unlicensed builder. It is also your responsibility to make sure that people employed by you have licenses required. Your construction must comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, building codes, and regulations.

The average processing time for a residential building permit is approximately 5 to 7 business day, excluding holidays. Most commercial building permit applications with a General Contractor identified on the application are processed in approximately 15 business days, excluding holidays. Processing time will be longer if submitted applications are incomplete or if more information and/or additional plans are requested by our office.