Timber offcuts, sawdust and ash from burnt timber can contain high concentrations of arsenic, a toxic chemical that cannot be broken down.

Timber may be treated with chemical solutions to prolong its life, particularly when used for outdoor and building purposes. It is difficult to identify whether timber has been treated or not.

In New Zealand the following chemicals may have been used to preserve timber:

  • arsenic
  • copper
  • chromium.

How to safely dispose of timber offcuts, sawdust or ash

  • Place timber offcuts, sawdust and bagged cold ash in your red rubbish bin.
  • Let ash cool for at least four days before placing in the red rubbish bin, otherwise it may cause a fire and melt the bin.
  • Do not burn treated timber offcuts; the vapours can affect you and your family and pollute the air we all breathe.
  • Timber offcuts, sawdust and ash should not be used for compost. Please do not put them in the organics bin or in your home compost as it may contaminate them.

Find out more by watching: Learn why you shouldn't put timber off-cuts into your green wheelie bin(external link).