Skip to main content Skip to site navigation

Accepted Waste

General information

The Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program is a free recycling and disposal service for San Mateo County residents only. Residents must make an appointment and limit waste to 10 gallons or 50 pounds per appointment. These requirements are due to storage capacity limits, state regulations, and for your safety. Contact us at 650-655-6217 or wwon@smcgov.org if you have more than the waste limit.

Empty containers are not hazardous waste and can be disposed of in the garbage. Leave the lids off so waste haulers can see that the container is empty and non-hazardous.

ACCEPTABLE WASTE TYPE OTHER RECYCLING/DISPOSAL OPTIONS

Aerosol cans (spray paints, hair spray, and other aerosol sprays EXCEPT food grade products like cooking oil sprays)

 

Art and hobby supplies (photo chemicals, glues)

 

Automotive supplies (car batteries, motor oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, gasoline, fuel additives chrome polish, many waxes)

Free convenient drop off locations also exist for the following automotive supplies:

Batteries (all household types)

Find other convenient options for battery recycling here. Please tape the terminals of Lithium (Li) batteries before recycling to protect from fires. 

Cosmetics (nail polish, nail polish remover, perfumes, etc.)

 

Fluorescent lights (all sizes and types) Only 10 fluorescent lights are allowed per appointment. If you have more than 10 fluorescent lights call (650) 372-6217.

Drop-off fluorescent lights at select hardware stores. 
Fire extinguishers Residential fire extinguishers are typically dry chemical (sodium bicarbonate or monoammonium phosphate) and carbon dioxide, and are not hazardous.  These may be discharged into the regular trash. However, monoammonium phosphate is an irritant to the respiratory tract and to eyes. So, discharge the unit outside, away from kids or pets, wear goggles and a particulate mask. Then recycle the emptied unit as a plastic or metal container. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, bring them into the HHW Program.
Garden fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides  
Household cleaning chemicals (bleach, stain removers, all-purpose cleaners, polishes)  
Mercury-containing thermometers and thermostats See Thermostat Recycle Corporation for list of free convenient drop off locations.
Painting supplies and Home Improvement (Paint, spray paint, stains, thinners, varnish, epoxy, fiberglass, roof tar, etc.) Many paint stores now take back paint, stain, and varnish year‐round for free during their regular business hours as part of the PaintCare program.  Find locations at paintcare.org.
Poisons (powders, sprays, baits, pest killing products)  
Pool or spa chemicals  
Propane tanks and outdoor cooking fluids (lighter fluid, camp stove fuel, tanks for gas grills), maximum 5-gallon size

Take advantage of propane cylinder exchanges, such as Blue Rhino, Amerigas, and Pick-Up Propane.

If empty: compressed gas cylinders are exempt from California regulation when they are empty. Remove the valve or otherwise create a hole in the tank to ensure it is at atmospheric pressure and dispose with solid waste. Contact local metal recyclers for possible recycling.

The HHW Program does not accept the following wastes:

UNACCEPTABLE WASTE TYPE ALTERNATIVE DISPOSAL OPTION

Ammunition, explosives, fireworks, gun powder

 Contact local law enforcement

Appliances

Find local disposal locations

Asbestos

See BAAQMD and DTSC

Contact the following Bay Area landfills:

Construction and demolition debris

Find local disposal locations
Cooking oil Find local disposal locations
Electronic waste Find local disposal locations
Helium tanks (party balloon tanks) Contact the manufacturer for disposal instructions
Compressed gases (except propane for camping stoves or barbecues) If empty:compressed gas cylinders are exempt from California regulation when they are empty. Remove the valve or otherwise create a hole in the tank to ensure it is at atmospheric pressure, and dispose in with solid waste. Contact local metal recyclers for possible recycling.
Medical, biohazard, infectious wastes Contact the San Mateo County Medical Waste Program
Pharmaceuticals, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs Many local police stations will take them back. 
Pressure-treated wood

See DTSC

List of approved landfills that accept treated wood waste

Further information

Sharps, lancets, needles

 Find local disposal locations

Smoke detectors Call the manufacturer for mail-back recycling; or call First Alert at 1-800-323-9005
Styrofoam Find disposal locations
Tires Find local disposal locations
Business waste See if you quality for the Very Small Quantity Generator (Business) Program
OR
Contact a Registered Hazardous Waste Transporter

Contact us directly at (650) 655-6217 or wwon@smcgov.org if you have questions. 

Commands