How to Dispose of Your Toxic Products Responsibly

How to Dispose of Your Toxic Products Responsibly


Household Hazardous Waste

Even the greenest households use some toxic or other hazardous product on a regular basis.  You also may have old paint or chemical products left by others which you won't use. If these products end up in the landfill or are poured down the drain, they can leach toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the soil and groundwater.  Workers can be injured during collection or sorting when toxic and other hazardous products  are compacted in collection equipment.  Old containers of household chemicals can deteriorate and leak, causing dangerous fumes and fires when stored inside your house or polluting rain water runoff when stored outside.

To avoid the worry of how to store and dispose of household hazardous waste:

  • Don't buy extra - Buy only what you need
  • Share unused products or half full containers with your friends or neighbors
  • Use up the products you purchase - what about the empty containers?

Not all hazardous household products can be used up.  Computers, electronics, fluorescent lamps, and household batteries are also hazardous when outdated or dead.  The following programs are available to make it easy for San Francisco residents to dispose of toxic products responsibly.

Neighborhood Drop-off Sites

Use RecycleWhere to find convenient drop off locations near you for the following items:

  • Latex paint
    • What happens to all that paint? Look here
  • Fluorescent tubes and bulbs
    • I broke a fluorescent tube - How do I clean it up? Look here
    • Broken lamps are NOT accepted at neighborhood drop-off sites.  Use home pick-up service or permanent facility programs.
  • Used Motor Oil & Filters
  • Used and Un-used Needles & Syringes 
    • What should I use to store my "sharps?" For information on safe storage and packaging of "sharps" look here
  • Small Empty Propane Tanks & Cylinders
    • For tanks & cylinders which are not empty, use home pick-up service or permanent facility programs
  • Household Batteries - alkaline & rechargable, AA, AAA, D, button batteries, etc.
  • TV's, Computers, Cell Phones & Electronics
  • Medicine

Home Pick-up Service

Use our convenient Home Pick-up Service to safely recycle or dispose of all toxic or hazardous products except medicines.

  • Oil-based paints, finishes, solvents & strippers
  • Cleaning products
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Automotive products
  • Fuels
  • Glues & adhesives
  • Photo Chemicals
  • Non-empty Aerosols
  • Mercury thermometers

Call (415) 330-1405 to schedule a Free Home Pick-up from your San Francisco residence. Unknown or unlabelled toxic and other hazardous substances must be taken to the permanent collection facility.  Appointments are available on Saturdays.  You must be present at the time of pick-up. We cannot pick-up medicines. 

Have a TV or large electronic for pickup?  Look here for information on free pickup service for these items.

Permanent Collection Facility

All toxic and hazardous products from your home, except medicines, are accepted at San Francisco's Permanent Collection Facility 

San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility

501 Tunnel Rd. (at The Dump)

8 A.M. - 4 P.M.  - Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays

There is a limit of 15 gallons OR 125 pounds of home toxics or other hazardous waste per day. This limit is based on transportation restrictions enforced by the CHP.  The permanent facility is reserved for San Francisco residents only.  You will need to provide proof of San Francisco residency, such as a driver's license or utility bill.  Be sure to pack your household chemicals in a sturdy box and transport them in your trunk or truck bed outside of your breathing zone.  Put each leaking or damaged container in a separate box, plastic tub, or zip-lock bag. 

Look here for more information on using the San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility.

What Do I Do with...?

Empty Containers

What should you do with an empty household chemical container?  If it's empty and it's 5 gallons or smaller it's NOT hazardous waste.  Household chemical containers which are 5 gallons or smaller in size and are empty and dry can be safely and legally handled in collection equipment.  Empty aerosol paint cans and empty latex (acrylic or water based) paint cans may be placed in your blue cart. ALL nozzles, caps and lids MUST BE REMOVED and placed separately into the recycle collection bin.  Put all other types of empty hazardous waste containers into your black cart for disposal - do not try to recycle these containers.