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Preventing Pollution

Overview Safe Waste Disposal

Used Motor Oil and Filter Recycling

There are three easy and free options to safely recycle your used motor oil and filters in San Mateo County described below. 

It’s important to remember that these options are for uncontaminated oil only! Oil mixed with water, paint, solvents, rags, and antifreeze is contaminated. This oil must be taken to the San Mateo County Household Hazardous Waste Facility. Learn more here.


Here are 3 reasons to recycle your used motor oil and filters:

Did you know that one quart of motor oil can pollute up to 250,000 gallons of clean water? Used motor oil is a major source of oil contamination of waterways and can result in pollution of drinking water sources. Recycling used oil and filters protects the environment.

Improper disposal of used oil costs money…your money!  You pay in higher consumer prices, taxes for environmental cleanups, and increased health care costs when wastes are improperly managed. Recycling used oil and filters saves money.

3 – IT’S THE LAW!:
The California Health and Safety Code 25189.6 states that anyone who improperly disposes of hazardous waste, such as used oil, is guilty of a public offense punishable of a fine up to $250,000 or prison time. Improper disposal of used oil is a crime.


HHW Program Overview

San Mateo County’s HHW Program helps residents reuse, recycle, or responsibly manage residential hazardous waste for free. There are multiple easy and free ways to safely and properly remove HHW from your home. County residents can:

  1. Local Drop-off locations (no appointment needed): Find local recycling and disposal options for paint, electronics, fluorescent lights, medicines and more – no appointment needed!
  2. Curbside Pick up: Take advantage of battery and used oil pick-up on your recycle/garbage collection day. Check your hauler for details.
  3. Make an HHW drop-off appointment. Review the program rules and schedule an appointment that’s convenient for you.  
General information

Coastal Cleanup Day

Coastal Cleanup Day is an annual waterway and land cleanup held in the month of September. It’s California’s largest volunteer event and brings community awareness to protecting our marine environment from litter. 

San Mateo County Environmental Health Services coordinates the event in partnership with the California Coastal Commission, the Ocean Conservancy, and many Statewide and local partners.

General information

Cigarette Butt Litter Reduction Program

Do you smoke cigarettes? Take our survey and receive a free pocket ashtray.

Cigarette butts that are dropped or flicked away as litter can easily be blown or washed into storm drains that lead directly into waterways without filtration. In addition to being unsightly, cigarette butts never disappear because they are made of plastic and do not biodegrade. They are toxic to marine and freshwater wildlife. 

General information
Breaking Our Bag Habit

Breaking Our Bag Habit

Important Notice: Effective Tuesday, December 22, 2020, the Health Officer Order Appendix A of the Social Distancing Protocol was revised to remove language about not permitting individuals to bring reusable items from home into stores. The removal of the language means that County residents may bring their reusable shopping bags into retail stores. Retail stores may adopt their own stricter policies prohibiting such items if they wish. For more information about the revised Order, read the County’s December 22, 2020 Health Officer Order Appendix A.

About 63 million single-use plastic bags were used every year before San Mateo County’s Reusable Bag Ordinance went into effect. Most of them ended up in landfills, or as litter on land and in our waterways.