Household Hazardous Waste Program
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) is the category of used, retail items that are considered hazardous when discarded. Among these items are chemicals for home cleaning, automotive care, pest control, some lighting products and electronics. Recology San Francisco operates a Household Hazardous Waste Facility to enable you to recycle or dispose of these products safely.
- Items that are considered HHW are not allowed in the composting, recycling or trash.
- HHW should be brought to the Recology Household Hazardous Waste Facility for safe disposal.
- HHW can also be picked up as part of our HHW collection program for San Francisco residents.
Residents and Small Businesses In San Francisco
Warning: During its removal, asbestos particles may be released into the air. The particles are so small that you can't see them, and they can cause serious health problems if you breathe them in, including a lung disease called asbestosis, which may not develop until several years after exposure.
Hire A Professional
To "do it right" you need special air purifying equipment and clothing, including disposable coveralls and respirators with asbestos-filtering cartridges. In addition, depending on the type of material you plan to remove, you may need to construct a containment to prevent spreading contamination outside of your work area. For more information about specific requirements, refer to Bay Area Air Quality Management District Regulation 11, Rule 2 and, if you have employees, refer to the Cal-OSHA Construction Industry Standard for Asbestos.
Rather than remove asbestos yourself, whether you are a contractor or homeowner, we recommend hiring an asbestos abatement company that specializes in asbestos removal. These companies can be found in the Yellow Pages under "Asbestos Abatement." We also strongly recommend hiring an asbestos consultant, independent of the asbestos abatement company, to assure that the work is performed properly and that it is safe to enter the area after the work is completed. Look for these companies in the Yellow Pages under "Asbestos Consulting and Testing."
Our Requirements for Accepting Asbestos
- Wet the asbestos with water.
- Place the asbestos in 4 heavy duty trash bags (1.5 mils thick), one inside the other, and close with duct tape. (If you can find them, you can also use 2 special plastic bags for asbestos or "contractor bags" (3 mils thick) available from safety supply companies. Whatever type of bag you use, the total thickness of these bags must be 6 mils. Ducts and pipes must be no longer than 5 feet. If you can't find bags that are large, double wrap the ducts and pipes with heavy duty plastic and tape all seams with duct tape.
- Each bag should weigh no more than 30 pounds.
- Write "Waste Asbestos" on each bag.
- The disposal fee is 25 cents per pound for small businesses, and they must schedule an appointment in advance. Only San Francisco businesses that generate less than 220 pounds of waste per month may use this program. Call (415) 330-1425 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
- There is no fee for residents bringing asbestos from their homes, but there is a limit of 125 pounds per trip. The facility is open for residents Thursday - Saturday. Call (415) 330-1405 or visit our household hazardous waste page for hours, directions, and policies.
For more information about asbestos contact San Francisco's Department of Public Health: (415) 252-3951.
Residential Household Battery Recycling
Important Battery Recycling Safety Reminder: For safety, please tape over the contact points of each lithium battery. Look for "Lithium" or "Li" (most button and rechargeable batteries). See the images below for guidelines on how to tape over the contact points.
Battery Recycling Programs for San Francisco Residents
Residential Curbside Battery Collection (available to residential customers)
For curbside collection of batteries, place your loose household batteries into a clear plastic bag and seal it. Small zip-type bags work best. For safety, please tape over the contact points of each lithium battery.
Place the sealed bag on top of your black cart lid and set it out on your collection day. Do not place the battery bags inside any of your collection carts.
Apartment Battery Bucket Collection (available to apartment buildings)
Place your loose household batteries into the battery recycling bucket located in your building. For safety, please tape over the contact points of each lithium battery.
When the bucket is full, anyone can call the number on the bucket for a free pickup.
Apartment building managers can order a battery bucket by calling Recology Sunset Scavenger (415) 330-1300 or Recology Golden Gate (415) 626-4000. We will deliver the battery recycling bucket, an informational poster to hang up, and postcards for you to distribute to your tenants notifying them of the new program.
Learn about the resources available to property managers and owners.
Battery Drop Off (available to San Francisco residents)
Residents of San Francisco can drop off household batteries at all Walgreens convenience stores in San Francisco, most hardware stores, the SF Dump and many other locations throughout the city. To find your closest drop-off locations, visit SFEnvironment.org/ecofinder.
For safety, please tape over the contact points of each lithium battery.
The city spends approximately $3.5 million dollars each year to unclog sewers. Home kitchens and commercial restaurants are the largest controllable sources of Food, Oil and Grease (FOG) in the City's sewer system, but even a little grease from the many homes in the city add up to clogged sewers.
The San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Facility accepts cooking oil in small quantities. Oil can be dropped off during our normal business hours, along with paint, solvents, and other household chemicals from San Francisco residents.
Cooking Oil Disposal Requirements
- The is a limit of up to 20 gallons per day per customer.
- We accept oil from Thursday through Saturday, 8AM to 4PM, excluding holidays
- Individual containers of cooking oil must be no larger than 5 gallons in size (i.e., no large drums). If you would like your container back, please ask staff to empty it while you wait.
- You do not need to prove that you reside in San Francisco to dispose of only cooking oil, but you do need to provide proof of residency if you bring any type of hazardous waste besides cooking oil.
- Cooking oil should be in leak-proof containers secured with a tight lid. Please make sure your used cooking oil does not contain water, soapsuds, and/or food debris.
Solidified oil, such as lard or bacon grease, can be recycled at the facility or be placed into your green composting bin for collection and recycling. Please do not place liquid cooking oil in your green composting bin.
Cooking Oil Recycling for Businesses
Although the household hazardous waste facility is not normally available to businesses, we make an exception for cooking oil. We will accept up to 20 gallons of cooking oil from restaurants and other businesses. Besides helping to recover this valuable resource so it can be used as a bio-fuel, we also want to keep cooking oil out of the trash - where it makes a mess - and out of the drains where it clogs up the pipes in your building and the city sewers.
Please Note: We do not accept paint, solvents, or other types of chemicals from businesses. Find out if you are eligible for the Small Business Drop-Off Program.
Where does it go?
The oil is collected by SFGreasecycle, the City of San Francisco's Bio-fuel Program, and used to manufacture a cleaner-burning renewable fuel to use in MUNI buses, fire trucks and other city vehicles.
For more information check out the City's bio-fuel website or call the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission at 415-695-7366.
The City of San Francisco has a new pilot disposal program funded by grants from pharmaceutical manufacturers. You can take expired medicine to any of the following locations.
Police Station Drop Offs
You may now take both controlled and non-controlled medicines to all police stations in San Francisco for proper disposal.
Pharmacy Drop Offs
Visit one of the following pharmacies to properly dispose of unwanted or expired non-controlled medicines.
1. Torgsyn Discount Pharmacy Inc.
5614 Geary Boulevard@ 20th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94121
2. Joe's Pharmacy
5199 Geary Boulevard @ 16th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118
3. Franklin Pharmacy
1508 Franklin Street @ Bush St.
San Francisco, CA 94124
4. Four Fifty Sutter Pharmacy
450 Sutter Street #712 @ Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
5. Clay Medical Pharmacy
929 Clay St #103 @ Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
6. Golden Gate Pharmacy
1844 Noriega Street @ 26th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122
7. Post Divisadero Medical Pharmacy
2299 Post Street @ Divisadero St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
8. Charlie's Pharmacy
1101 Fillmore Street @ Golden Gate Ave
San Francisco, CA 94115
9. MOMS Pharmacy
4071 18th Street @ Castro St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
10. Visitacion Valley Pharmacy
100 Leland Avenue @ Alpha St.
San Francisco, CA 94134
11. Daniels Pharmacy
943 Geneva Avenue @ Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94112
12. Central Drug Store
4494 Mission Street @ Santa Rosa Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112
13. Los Portales Pharmacy
2480 Mission St #110
San Francisco, CA 94110
Recycle AIDS Medication Program (RAMP)
Sealed or opened medications that are unexpired or up to one year out of date may be donated to the Recycle AIDS Medication Program (RAMP). This program is not limited to AIDS medications. For more information, visit RAMP or call (415) 285-0606.
Learn More! If you have questions about San Francisco's new medicine disposal program, please call San Francisco Department of the Environment at (415) 355-3700.
Recycled Paint Program
Most of the latex paint we receive at the San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility is recycled on site and given away for free. If you would like some of our free paint, just stop by during regular facility business hours. Visit the facility page for business hours.
How To Recycle Your Old Latex Paint
We recycle the paint that you bring to the household hazardous waste facility, and the latex paint that we pick from neighborhood drop off sites.
We also accept up to 5 gallons of paint from San Francisco residents during regular business hours from the following sites. Please call them before dropping off paint to make sure they have room for the paint in their storage areas:
- Brownies Hardware, 1563 Polk @ Sacramento, 673-8900
- Center Hardware, 999 Mariposa @ Pennsylvania, 861-1800
- Cliff's Variety, 479 Castro St. @ 18th, 431-5365
- Cole Hardware, 3312 Mission @ 29th St, 647-8700
- Cole Hardware, 2254 Polk @ Green, 674-8913
- Cole Hardware, 956 Cole St. @ Parnassus, 753-2653
- Cole Hardware, 70 4th St. @ Mission, 777-4400
- Fredericksen Hardware, 3029 Fillmore @ Union, 292-2950
- Golden City Building Supply, 1279 Pacific @ Leavenworth, 441-0941
- Last's Paint Clearance Center, 2141 Mission @ Sycamore, 437-0633
- Roberts Hardware, 1629 Haight @ Clayton, 431-3392
Recycled Paint Quality
Our recycled paint is better than a lot of new paint and many other recycled paints. Other recycled paints are often thinned down with wash water from paint factories, making for cheap paint that does not cover well. The quality of latex paint is usually determined by the percentage of solids in it, as opposed to the amount of water it contains. Good quality paint is mixed with a high percentage of solids. Our recycled paint tends to be thicker than most new paint, because when paint is stored in people's homes for a long time, some of the water evaporates, increasing the proportion of solids. San Francisco's moderate climate also contributes to good recycled paint. Unlike in other cities, paint does not get spoiled by freezing. Previously frozen paint is not recyclable.
Want to know how we recycle our paint? Check out our frequently asked questions.
What recycled paint colors are available?
- Warm colors: Sandpiper (beige), Fawn (tan), and Fort Funston (brown).
- Cool colors: Sage (green-gray) San Francisco Fog (blue-gray), and Granite (gray).
Come and get your free recycled paint!
Our recycled paint is free! We give away recycled paint on a first come, first serve basis.
You do not have to be a resident or business in San Francisco to get some of our paint. Take an extra bucket or two if you are not sure how much you need, because you may never get that same color. You can always bring back what you do not use. We always take back our paint.
We do not require people who are dropping off our mix of recycled paint to be San Francisco residents.
In many countries paint is much more expensive than it is here. When our paint starts to pile up, we fill up an 8'x20'' shipping container and send it overseas. We have shipped paint to different areas of Mexico, where it has been used to paint schools, libraries and more. We have also shipped paint to Mali (Africa), Tonga, and El Salvador. Our employees have put a lot of effort into figuring out how to ship paint internationally, including navigating international customs regulations, shipping logistics and locating a liaison to distribute the paint locally in the destination country.
It's a Good Thing!
Our facility follows the environmental hierarchy of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."
Some household hazardous waste programs collect latex paint and send it to a special landfill. We prefer not to put anything into a landfill. Mixing the paint falls somewhere between reuse and recycling. It is a better practice than sending it to be used as a cement additive which is lower in our hierarchy and technically considered reclamation, not recycling. Even though it would be cheaper to send the paint to a landfill, the cost for shipping the paint to other countries is about the same or less than the cost of sending it to the cement factory in Southern California. It does not cost us extra, and we are proud that so many people benefit.
San Francisco Needle/Syringe Disposal Program
San Francisco residents have one of the best programs in the nation to safely dispose of their used syringes, needles and lancets: the Safe Needle Disposal Program administered by Recology San Francisco.
Used needles do not belong in the trash where they can pose a health hazard to the public and trash collectors. They should be put into puncture-resistant, leak-proof "Sharps Containers."
How to Participate
- Residents with medical conditions requiring the use of hypodermic needles may pick up a free Sharps Container at any Walgreens pharmacy in San Francisco.
- When it is full, just return it to Walgreens for proper management. Needles in Sharps Containers are also accepted at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility.
See the Household Hazardous Facility Waste page for hours, directions, and requirements.
Origins of the Safe Needle Disposal Program
The Safe Needle Disposal Program started in 1990 and was the first of it's kind in the nation. It was designed by a coalition comprised of Recology Sunset Scavenger, Recology Golden Gate, and Recology San Francisco, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the American Diabetes Association, and Walgreens, to protect trash company workers and the public's health by providing residents with a safe and convenient disposal option for needles used at home. It has been replicated in many other cities.
Recology San Francisco administers the program, which is funded through trash rates paid by the residents of the City of San Francisco. The company buys the sharps containers, delivers them to participating Walgreens, and arranges for a medical waste company to pick up the full containers. More than 1,500 containers are distributed to the residents of San Francisco each month.
After collection from Walgreens, the needles and other sharps are microwaved to sterilize them and then ground up and discarded at specially-permitted landfills.
When trash collectors observe needles in the trash, the customer is contacted and told about the Safe Needle Disposal Program.
"Our goal is that residents who use needles know about the hazards of improper disposal and the safe disposal options we provide."
-- Brad Drda, Environmental Manager at Recology San Francisco
If you find needles on the street or in other public spaces, call the San Francisco Department of Public Works.
This program is not for medical offices or hospitals. Medical facilities must make arrangements to dispose of contaminated sharps with a commercial medical waste management service.
For more information, please call (415) 330-1400.
The HHW program was designed to protect chemicals from contaminating materials bound for recycling and the environment around landfills. Learn more about HHW by reading more below.
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) is the name for the category of used, retail items that are considered hazardous when discarded. Chemicals for home cleaning, automotive care, pest control, lighting and electronic waste are hazardous waste. Recology San Francisco operates a Household Hazardous Waste Facility for safe disposal for the collection of these items for disposal or recycling.
When most people think of "hazardous materials" they picture trucks full of chemicals, factories, dumps oozing slime, and by-products of our synthetic society. Yet every home can be a warehouse of hazardous materials. Cleaners, bleach, oil, paints, thinners, batteries, medicines, pesticides and more common household items have the distinction of being "hazardous".
15 Gallon Limit
- Do not bring more than 15 gallons of paint, oil, and other household chemicals (or 125 pounds of solid waste) per day.
- Be careful not to mix different materials.
- Be sure that no containers are leaking.
Do not bring empty containers. You may put empty aerosol spray cans and empty latex (acrylic or water based) paint cans into your recycling bin. ALL nozzles, caps and lids MUST BE REMOVED from cans and placed separately into the recycle collection bin.
Put all other types of empty household hazardous waste containers into your trash bin for disposal (follow disposal instructions on the container's label) - do not try to recycle these containers.
Fees for the Drop-off Program depend on the type and amount of waste. These prices are partially subsidized by San Francisco trash bills.
San Francisco Residents
As a San Francisco resident,you may use the facility to bring hazardous waste from your own home. We require proof of residency, such as a driver's license. If you have a special situation, such as cleaning out the home of a San Francisco resident who passed away, please call us for instructions at (415) 330-1405.
If you are a real estate agent who is cleaning out a home in order to get it ready for sale, ask the resident or home owner to take care of the waste. Real estate agents may not use the household facility except in special circumstances. If you fit that category, call (415) 330-1425 to make an appointment. You will be charged as a business and will be required to pay the fees charged as a VSQG.
Why this program?
Household hazardous waste, by definition is hazardous.
If these products are not properly disposed of they can leak toxic chemicals into the soil or groundwater, workers sorting or collect other items can be injured if they encounter certain chemicals and storing of certain toxic chemicals is unsafe as they can leak or deteriorate, leading to harmful fumes or even fire.
These risks make it critical for the safety of yourself, your family and your neighbors to dispose of these items safely.
You can take motor oil, latex paint, fluorescent tubes and bulbs, and most batteries to drop-off sites closer to your home. (Walgreens accepts household batteries; Cole Hardware accepts latex paint.) For drop locations call us at 330-1405 or visit the www.sfenvironment.org
We are required to turn away waste from businesses, but we have a special program that works by appointment for small businesses with small amounts of waste. For more information, please visit our small business page.
Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents who are cleaning out a home in order to get it ready for sale should ask the resident or home owner to take care of the waste. Real estate agents may not use the household facility except in special circumstances; and they must call 330-1425 to make an appointment and pay the fees charged to VSQG businesses.