Household hazardous wastes (HHW) should never be thrown into the trash or washed down the household or storm drains or abandoned – that is the law!
For health, safety and environmental reasons it is illegal to dispose of HHW in the garbage, sewers, down household or storm drains, and they cannot be abandoned. Hazardous chemicals can "pass through" wastewater treatment processes or storm drains and get discharged into the environment. This occurs because wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove hazardous chemicals from wastewater, and many storm drains flow directly to the Bay without any treatment at all. HHW thrown into the garbage can injure workers during collection or mix with other chemicals when buried in a landfill. Groundwater used for drinking or irrigation can be contaminated when waste products are poured onto or seep into the ground.
What is HHW?
Words such as danger, warning, caution, poisonous, corrosive, toxic and flammable on the labels of common household products tell you these products may be harmful, even deadly, to you, to your children, to your pets,
or to the environment. When these products are no longer wanted and are destined for disposal they become “household hazardous waste” also known as "HHW". Do Not put any of these HHW items or materials in garbage cans or down household or storm drains:
Toxic: Poisonous or lethal when ingested, touched or inhaled even in small quantities (rat poison, cleaning fluids, pesticides, bleach);
Flammable: Ignites easily (lighter fluid, spot and paint removers);
Corrosive: Eats away materials and living tissue by chemical action (oven and toilet bowl cleaners);
Reactive: Creates an explosion or produces deadly vapors (bleach mixed with ammonia cleaners).Careless use and disposal of harmful and hazardous substances contaminate our food, soil, water, and air; and seriously threaten the ecosystems on which we depend.
Even if the products' labels do not contain the word "hazardous" they may be just as hazardous as any industrial waste.
Where is HHW?
Check your house, garage, storage cabinets and shed for items such as batteries (household flashlight type, automobile, rechargeables), cleaners and solvents, paints and paint remover, used motor oil and cooking oil, lighter fluid, gasoline, auto care products, pharmceuticals and sharps, fluorescent light tubes and compact bulbs, items containing mercury, electronic waste, weed killer, drain opener, poisons and pesticides.
Practice safe storage and proper disposal for all of these items. You may wish to mark or label these products
as a reminder to use them up and dispose of them safely.
West Contra Costa residents can properly dispose of household hazardous waste free of charge at the West County HHW Collection Facility located in at 101 Pittsburg Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801. Open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays between the hours of 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (closed Noon to 12:30 p.m. for lunch). Call for more information: 1-888-412-9277
NOT accepted at the HHW collection facility
- Radioactive Materials
- Explosives, including firearms
- Controlled substances (see list of HHW items)
- Gas Cylinders - Pressurized, thick-walled over 5 gallons
Are you an eligible customer? Please note – this service is only available to residents of El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, North Richmond, Kensington, Crockett, Port Costa and Tormey.You will need to show proof of residency – such as a utility bill or driver's license. If you do not live in one of these areas, call your garbage company to ask what service is available to you.
Kensington residents please read the information about the Kensington HHW Permit Program before visiting the facility.
Recyclemore has compiled an extensive list of easy-to-do “homemade” alternatives to store bought toxic products. See below for a list of Safe Alternatives to HHW products.
For more information on hazardous waste and universal waste visit CalRecycle or the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC).