Hazardous Waste, Illegal Dumping & Litter

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)

HHW includes items like batteries, paints, cleaning chemicals, medicine, and electronic wastes. These items cannot go in any curbside bin. For options on how to properly dispose of these items, please visit the County of San Mateo’s Household Hazardous Waste website.

Items that you do not need an appointment to drop off

The items listed below are recyclable and can be disposed of without an appointment if these are the only items you have to get rid of. It is illegal to put these items into the trash. If you have additional items along with these to get rid of, see the section below to make an appointment.

  • Motor oil
  • Oil filters
  • Antifreeze
  • Car batteries
  • Latex paint
  • Fluorescent lamps (including compact fluorescents)
  • Household batteries

These items can be dropped off at a number of locations throughout the county. Check out our handy Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Guide as a reference for locations that accept certain hazardous wastes.

Curbside Collection

Reduce waste by recycling accepted items in the blue bin if you have curbside collection. Check our hauler map for more information about which curbside services for recycling hazardous wastes such as batteries and motor oil are available in your area.

Batteries

These are collected at the curb by all garbage companies presently serving San Mateo County. Place batteries in a small sealed bag and put the bag on top of your recycling container (except if you live in Millbrae, Brisbane and South San Francisco, please place the bag into the recycling cart under the blue lid on top of the bottles and cans).

Paint

The California Paint Stewardship PaintCare program accepts latex and oil-based paint for recycling from residents and businesses at no cost.

Electronics

Electronics are not accepted at Hazardous Waste Events. There are several electronics recycling centers in San Mateo County. If the item is under 5 years old, it can often be donated to an electronics refurbishing/reuse program. For practical purposes, in terms of current regulations, it is illegal to throw out practically all electronics. Our database will show where to recycle (or donate) electronics; use search categories of Electronics and Computer Equipment.

Universal Waste Regulations

Universal wastes are hazardous wastes that are generated by several sectors of society, rather than a single industry. Beginning February 8, 2006 households and small businesses were no longer allowed to put universal wastes in the trash.
Universal waste includes:

  • all household batteries
  • fluorescent and other mercury containing lamps*
  • electronic items with a circuit board (for practical purposes, all electronics)
  • non-empty aerosol cans
  • mercury thermostats

The San Mateo County Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) program collects these wastes from households and small businesses. More information about these wastes and the new regulations is available from the State of California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC).

Report Illegal Dumping

Report It! SMC

“Report It! SMC” empowers residents to report illegal dumping and graffiti in unincorporated areas of San Mateo County. The mobile app allows residents and visitors to report issues quickly and easily. You can even take photos of issues and submit them on your phone. These reports are then forwarded directly to County departments to respond and address.

To use the Web reporting tool above:

  1. Make sure the Report tab is selected. Enter the address or use the map marker to navigate to the area where the issue you want to report is located on the map. (Use the controls in the upper left corner to move the map around the window or zoom in and out.).
  2. Once you have indicated the address or mapped the location of your issue, click next.
  3. Select a service request issue from the drop-down menu. Once you’ve entered a service request, you can then fill out a more detailed description of the issue and even attach a photograph. After this is complete, create an account where you can earn civic points, however you must enter a valid email address! After you’ve completed all the fields, press submit to create a public report of your issue!

You can also report issues from your smart phone or tablet. Click on one of the links below to download the mobile app:

     

Adopt-a-Block Program

Litter has become increasingly frequent in our streets. It leads to a poor image of neighborhoods, sanitation issues, and can clog our storm drains. San Mateo County’s Adopt-A-Block program provides an opportunity for concerned citizens to beautify their community by volunteering to clean up a certain section of their neighborhood. The Adopt-a-Block Program targets litter and illegal dumping throughout unincorporated neighborhoods. The benefits to this program are a litter-free, more attractive community, and an opportunity for community members to get involved and make a difference in their community.

The County of San Mateo’s Office of Sustainability welcomes you as a volunteer! Volunteers are critical to our success, and we are grateful for the time and service you donate. This innovative approach allows citizens to participate in Adopt-a-Block Program. It offers civic-minded organizations an inexpensive project that gives members the satisfaction of making a contribution to their community.

The basics of the Adopt-A-Block Program is an individual adopts a street or block in an unincorporated area of San Mateo County street (see map) and commits to cleaning up at least once a month.

In return, Adopt-a-Block and the County of San Mateo will award volunteers a Commendation Certificate upon completing at least six months of the program, and will provide safety vests, thick gloves, trash bags, and other necessary materials.

Participating Procedures

  1. Complete the Adopt-a-Block participation application and volunteer waiver form and submit the forms to program staff
  2. Program staff will contact volunteer to coordinate cleanup logistics and provide necessary tools
  3. Volunteers may choose a cleanup location in the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County and conduct the scheduled cleanup
  4. Upon completion of cleanup, volunteer will leave the trash bags in designated areas. Program staffs will then send local crews to collect the trash bags
  5. Volunteers will complete trash tally and send it back to program staffs*