Too Toxic To Trash

Household hazardous waste (HHW) is considered to be any leftover or unused portions of chemical products you use in your kitchen, bathroom, garage, automobile, or yard. Household hazardous waste can pass through treatment processes or storm drains and get discharged into creeks, the San Francisco Bay, or the Pacific Ocean. For safety and environmental reasons, it is illegal to dispose of HHW in the garbage, sewers or storm drains.


Problems with Improper Disposal of Household Hazardous Waste


  • Contaminates our waterways and drinking water.
  • Physical injury to sanitation workers.
  • Contaminates septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets.
  • Presents hazards to children and pets if left around the house.
  • Harms wildlife and the environment.


Properly Dispose of HHW

Click below for convenient recycling options for the following products in San Mateo County:

Needles, Syringes, or Lancets
Got Cooking Oil? Don't throw it in the trash! Recycle it!



For all household hazardous waste, San Mateo County Offers FREE Collection Events

San Mateo County Environmental Health Department sponsors a FREE county-wide program to collect, recycle and properly dispose of household hazardous waste. HHW Collections are held virtually every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (except Holiday weekends) at the permanent facility in San Mateo. Additional collections are held in many other locations throughout the County. Make an appointment online or call Environmental Health at 650-363-4718 and select option 3.


Accepted Materials


  • Oil-based paints, varnishes and stains
  • Paint thinner
  • Household cleaning chemicals 
  • Aerosol spray cans (except food grade products like cooking oil sprays)
  • Furniture and metal polishes
  • Garden fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides
  • Pool and spa chemicals
  • Photographic chemicals
  • Art and hobby supplies
  • Automotive Products
  • Batteries (home & car)
  • Hobby supplies
  • Fuels
  • Propane tanks from barbecues
  • Fluorescent bulbs and tubes
  • Old thermometers



Not Accepted Materials (Get proper disposal information for these items here)

  • Ammunition
  • Asbestos
  • Biological materials
  • Business-generated materials
  • Compressed gas cylinders
  • Construction debris
  • Electronics
  • Explosives 
  • Helium tanks
  • Radioactive materials


At Your Door Service Has Been Discontinued


For residents in Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, and Unincorporated San Mateo* were previously eligible for the HHW Door-to-Door Pickup program but as of January 1, 2017 that program has been discontinued.   The San Mateo County government did not administer this program but is helping to spread the word about the transition.


Read more about the HHW Door-to-Door Pickup program transition here:



Household Hazardous Waste material can continue to be taken to the San Mateo County HHW collection facility or a temporary collection event.


*Unincorporated San Mateo County neighborhoods are: Burlingame Hills, San Mateo Highlands and Baywood Park (Crystal Springs area), Harbor Industrial, Devonshire Canyon, Palomar Park, Oak Knoll, Kensington Square, Emerald Lake Hills, Sequoia Tract and Trailer Ranchero and North Fair Oaks (area of CSA-8).



Best Buy Electronics and Appliances Recycling Guide
Household Products Database
Less Toxic Cleaning Recipes
Earth 911
EnviroBlog Environmental Connections to Public Health
The Story of Stuff Video (20 min)
California Product Stewardship Council Product Stewardship involves consumers, government agencies and product manufacturers sharing the responsibility of reducing the impact of product waste on our environment.  It is analysis and understanding of a product’s lifecycle and its long-term effect on our world.  Quite simply, recycling is only part of the solution.