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Preventing Pollution


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 reusable pocket ashtray and an opportunity to participate in a larger survey study to receive a $50 Visa gift card.

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.