Hazardous Waste | Recology San Mateo County
Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste accounts for significant amounts of toxic waste in landfills. Items such as electronics, fluorescent bulbs and tubes, paints, pesticides, cleaning products, old medications and other chemicals are illegal to put in the garbage or pour down a drain or gutter because they contaminate our soil, drinking water and air.

Residential: Although Recology San Mateo County does not handle hazardous waste, you can learn more about safe disposal with San Mateo County Health. For a list of acceptable items from the County program click here.

Commercial: Businesses may contact San Mateo County for more information on business hazardous waste disposal. Call (650) 372-6200 or visit smchealth.org/VSQG.

Recology offers a free Language Line with over 170 different languages through our Customer Service Department. Please contact us for more information. You can also visit the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability for general recycling and waste reduction information.



Residential Curbside Battery & Cell Phone Collection
Starting September 3, 2018, place household batteries (e.g. rechargeable, alkaline, button) and cell phones inside a sealed clear plastic bag, and place ON TOP of your closed BLACK GARBAGE CART on your regular collection day.

Apartment Battery & Cell Phone Collection Bucket
Check to see if your building/complex has a designated area for battery and cell phone collection. If you don’t see one in a central location, contact your Property Manager who can request a free Recology Collection Bucket.

Property Managers
Establish a centrally located collection container at your property – a lobby, multi-use room, mail room or clubhouse – for residents to place their bagged batteries and cell phones, in a collection bucket provided at no charge by Recology San Mateo County. When you’re ready to schedule a collection, place the bucket in the mutually agreed upon collection area and call Recology San Mateo County to schedule your free pickup.

Drop Off
Many local retailers also accept old batteries and cell phones for proper disposal. Please visit www.RecycleStuff.org for drop-off locations.  You may also drop off batteries and cell phones, along with other electronics, at the Shoreway Environmental Center at 333 Shoreway Road in San Carlos.

To learn more about battery disposal, click here



When medications are disposed of in the trash or down the drain, they can end up in the wrong hands, or in our soils and waterways. Waste water treatment facilities are not properly equipped to remove medicinal substances from the water. The result? A wide range of pharmaceuticals have been found in our rivers and lakes.

Drop Off
San Mateo County has many pharmacies (including all CVS locations) and local police departments that provide convenient take-back of unwanted medicines at no charge. Residents should call ahead to confirm hours of operation for locations.

For a full list of locations and more information about the County’s Safe Medicine Disposal Program, please go to: https://www.smchealth.org/RxDisposal



San Mateo County has retailers that provide take-back programs at no charge. Residents can drop off both latex and oil-based paints at the locations below (operated by PaintCare), however you may want to call ahead to confirm hours of operation and program parameters:

Drop Off

  • Grays Paint & Wallpaper, 601 Ralston Avenue, Belmont
  • Dunn-Edwards, 3580 El Camino Real, San Mateo
  • Hassett Ace, 282 Woodside Plaza, Redwood City
  • Hassett Ace Hardware, 545 First Avenue, San Mateo
  • Grays Paint & Wallpaper, 783 California Drive, Burlingame

For further information on this program, please go to www.paintcare.org



Residents with medical conditions requiring the use of hypodermic needles are required to arrange for proper disposal. California law prohibits the disposal of “sharps waste” in trash or recycling containers.  Home generated sharps waste includes: hypodermic needles, pen needles, syringes, lancets, and other devices that are used to penetrate the skin for medical purposes.

Drop off
Contact your health care provider, local pharmacies, hospitals or clinics to ask if they offer a collection program. Bio-hazard containers used to contain sharps waste are available for purchase at local pharmacies and some office supply stores. Visit San Mateo County Health Department or Flows to Bay for more information on sharps drop-off locations.

Mail-Back Service
For more information, check out CalRecycle’s website for Mail-Back Services.


Did you know that just one quart of motor oil that is disposed of improperly can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of fresh water? Please do your part to properly recycle used motor oil and filters.

Residential Curbside Collection
Place motor oil and filters next to your blue recycle cart for pickup on your regular collection day.  You may request up to five one-gallon plastic jugs for your used motor oil and up to five zippered plastic bags for your used oil filters, at no cost. You may also use your own clear zip-top plastic bags and clear plastic containers for used motor oil, such as a one-gallon milk jug.  Please be sure that lids on plastic containers are tightly sealed.

If you are an apartment or condo tenant, please learn more about motor oil drop off locations by visiting FlowsToBay.org/usedoil.


For more information on Electronic and Universal waste and how it dispose of it properly, please visit our E-Waste and Universal Waste page.


Treated wood is any wood that has been treated with a chemical preservative to protect the wood against attacks from insects, microorganisms, or fungi. It is typically used in outdoor applications such as fences, decks, stairways, etc.

Treated wood can be processed via San Mateo County’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program. For residents, please check San Mateo County’s HHW page to make an appointment or for questions at: www.smchealth.org/hhw. For businesses, please check to see if you quality for San Mateo County’s Very Small Quantity Generator Program.