Recycling and Managing Toxic Products for City Departments
- Zero Waste
- Toxics & Health
- Buildings & Environments
- Education & Equity
- Climate Change
San Francisco City departments set a high bar for reducing waste, buying green, increasing reuse and recycling, and properly handling of hazardous wastes. City staff who distinguish themselves as green champions may also receive special recognition through our Buy Green Scorecard.
What is hazardous waste?
Hazardous waste is defined as waste that is either flammable, toxic, corrosive, or reactive. Discarded products that meet one of these criteria are illegal to put in the landfill, and cannot go in any recycling or refuse containers. City departments could be fined up to $25,000/day for violations. Products that require special handling include:
Asbestos-containing building materials
Automotive products (antifreeze and other fluids, car lights, motor oil and filters, tires, oil soaked rags)
Batteries–automotive (lead-acid), alkaline, or rechargeable
Paints, thinners, solvents
Cleaning products, pesticides, or other chemicals
Electronic products—any item with a video display or circuit board
Fluorescent bulbs and tubes, high intensity discharge bulbs, or any lights containing mercury
Items made of lead, such as wheel weights
Mercury thermometers, switches and thermostats
Gas cylinders, tanks or other pressurized vessels
Lamp ballasts or capacitors that do not say “No PCBs”
Reuse it if you can
If you have items or supplies that are still usable – computer monitors, for example – contact the Virtual Warehouse first. The Virtual Warehouse is an on-line system for SF city employees to submit and receive gently used appliances, electronics, office furniture & supplies.
Get boxes for batteries and electronics
Schedule a pickup of other hazardous products
The Department of Public Health operates a service to collect hazardous wastes (such as nonrechargeable batteries, cleaning products, fluorescent tubes, or paints) from other City departments, using a licensed hauler.
Reduce waste in the future: Buy less
The best way to reduce toxic waste is to buy less in the first place, so check the Virtual Warehouse site before buying new items.
Reduce waste in the future: Buy safer products
San Francisco City departments are required by ordinance to buy environmentally preferable, or green, products. The law applies to departmental/Prop Q purchases as well as purchases from Citywide contracts. We made it easy by compiling the SF Approved List – the City’s own green product catalog. SF Approved contains:
- Green products currently on citywide term contracts.
- Names of vendors carrying the products
- Information on specifications or ecolabels for buying products
- Product reviews by people like you
Additional Information for Recycling and Managing Toxic Products for City Departments
San Francisco is habitat for 800,000 people – meeting needs for space to work, play, and learn; for food, water, and air; for community with local flora and fauna. SF Environment provides support for urban agriculture and forestry and green buildings, helping residents and businesses harness environmental opportunities.