Know Your HazMats and Proper Disposal – Project Clean Water

Know Your HazMats and Proper Disposal

Share On Social

Many common products that we use in our daily lives contain potentially hazardous materials and require special care when disposed of. It is illegal to dispose of hazardous waste in the garbage, down storm drains, or onto the ground. Remember, water that enters our storm drains is released into our rivers, lakes, and the ocean untreated, meaning that chemicals in illegally disposed hazardous waste it picks up along the way can be released into the environment and contaminate our air, water, and possibly the food we eat. And by throwing hazardous waste in the garbage, you can cause additional hazards to your garbage handler. Luckily, there is a simple solution – be aware of which materials are hazardous, and learn where to dispose of them correctly.

There are many ways to legally dispose of household hazardous waste in San Diego County. You can find a collection center near you by visiting any of these resources:

Here are some of the most common household hazardous waste items:


Paint can contain harmful chemicals that do not belong in the trash. PaintCare California provides easy drop off locations for paint disposal at no cost.

Paint Disposal Drop-off Locations

Learn More About Paint Care

Household Batteries

Batteries may contain metals including cadmium, lead, lithium, mercury, nickel, silver and zinc and are not allowed to be disposed of in a solid waste landfill. Your local jurisdiction offers free recycling events and drop off locations for batteries.

View drop-off locations

Motor Oil and Oil Filters

These hazardous materials require special handling and should not be mixed with anything. Make sure to drop them off at an Oil Certified Collection Center or at a Collection Event.

Find an oil recycling location

Propane Gas Cylinders

Needless to say, these potentially explosive materials do not belong in the trash. Find a recycling center through one of these providers, or visit your jurisdiction’s hazardous waste program website linked above to find a drop-off location.

Blue Rhino or Amerigas


Prescription medications require special handling and should not be thrown away in the trash. You can drop off any old or unused medications at a local pharmacy or police station to be properly disposed of.

Find a drug collection site

Needles, Lancets and Sharps

Any hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, acupuncture needles, lancets and other devices that are used to penetrate skin are defined as hazardous waste and prohibited from being thrown in the trash. You can dispose of them properly by visiting your local Household Hazardous Waste Facility.

Find a Drop-off Location Near You

Light Bulbs and Lamps

Light bulbs and lamps may contain mercury and other heavy metals that can be harmful to people and the environment. Attend a collection event or book an appointment at the appointment-only Household Hazardous Waste Facility for proper disposal.

Find a Drop-off Location Near You

E-Waste (Electronics)

Electronic waste includes household or office electronic devices in working or non-working conditions such as cellphones, laptops and printers. These items contain heavy metals like mercury and lead, which are dangerous to people and the environment. Dispose of them properly at a recycling location near you. Recycling Locations

Ready for the next step? Join Project Clean Water today and take the 52 Ways to Love Your Water Pledge!

52 Ways to love water