There are no recycling programs for smoke detectors in Australia. However commercial quantities of ionisation detectors are considered to be radioactive waste and must be disposed on in the approved manner.
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Smoke detectors are manufactured to a standard (AS 3786) which specifies an effective life of 10 years. After that time smoke detectors may malfunction and their efficiency may be compromised. They should be replaced every 10 years.
There two main types of smoke detectors in operation;
1.Ionisation: They detect invisible particles of combustion and contain a very small amount of radioactive material.
2.Photoelectric: They detect visible particles of combustion and contain no radioactive material.
There are currently no legal restrictions placed on the disposal of photoelectric smoke detectors however the disposal of commercial quantities of ionisation must abide by local and state regulations for radioactive waste.
There are currently no recycling programs for smoke detectors in Australia. However there is an increasing demand for an extended producer responsibility program to cover these waste items.
Individual (or small numbers) smoke detectors can be safely disposed of in domestic rubbish. When more than ten ionisation smoke detectors are collected together for bulk disposal, they must be treated as radioactive waste and the requirements of the National Health and Medical Research Council's Code of Practice for the Near-Surface Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Australia (1992) must be met.
What Happens When It's Recycled?
Commercial quantities of ionisation smoke detectors must be approved by state authorities and then disposed of in the approved manner. When replacing smoke detectors, it is recommended that the replacement smoke detectors be of the photoelectric type, hardwired (ie connected to the mains power by a licensed electrician) and interconnected.