Hazardous Waste Program

The City of Palo Alto provides environmentally safe and convenient hazardous waste disposal for residents and small businesses.

Americans generate 1.6 million tons of hazardous household products per year. The best way to reduce and prevent pollution from hazardous household products, protect the health of your family, and preserve the environment is to use less-toxic alternatives.

  

 

Quicklinks

HHW Station / HHW Events
Accepted Items 
Reuse Cabinets
Physical Limitations At-Home Pick-Up
Small Business/Non-Profit Organizations
Transportation Requirements 
Less-Toxic Alternatives
History
Related Links

 


HHW Station / HHW Events

The Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Station has expanded its services.

Palo Alto Residents may safely and conveniently dispose of their unwanted or unused toxic household items at the HHW Station. The City has made some exciting improvements to the Station. Events are now held at our upgraded permanent facility every Saturday and the first Friday of each month instead of only once a month. The City has also added new reuse cabinets. Residents can pick up free usable household products from the reuse cabinets. For more information call (650) 496-5910.


Hours

  • Every Saturday 9am to 11am
  • First Friday of each month 3pm to 5pm


Holiday Closures
 

  • July 4, 2014 for Independence Day (it will be open on Saturday July 5, 2014)
  • November 29, 2014 for Thanksgiving
  • December 27, 2014 for Christmas


Limitations

  • 15 gallons or 125 pounds of household hazardous waste per visit
  • Must be a Palo Alto Resident (driver’s license or vehicle registration)


Reuse Cabinets
Residents can pick up usable household products such as paints, cleaners and unused motor oil. These usable items were brought to the HHW Station for disposal by other residents and screened by the City before being placed in the cabinets for reuse.

Reuse Cabinets are located inside the HHW Station and are only open during HHW Station hours.

Address
Regional Water Quality Control Plant
2501 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303

Directions
Take Embarcadero Road east towards the Palo Alto Baylands. As you come to the Palo Alto Golf Course entrance turn right onto Embarcadero Way. Continue on Embarcadero Way and turn left into the Regional Water Quality Control Plant.


Map


Related Link
 
Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant – accepts old medications and household injection needles, open M-F 8am - 5pm
 
Sunnyvale Materials Recovery and Transfer (SMaRT) Station – accepts electronics, fluorescent bulbs, household batteries, motor oil and filters, cooking oil, antifreeze, auto batteries and household injection needles from residents of Mountain View, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale.

HHW Frequently Asked Questions

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Accepted Items

The following are items are accepted in the residential Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Programs.

  • Pesticides
  • Mercury wastes (thermometers, thermostats, switches)
  • Latex & Oil based paints
  • Medications (No controlled substances)
  • Gasoline, paint thinner or other fuels and solvents (in non-returnable container)
  • Fluorescent light bulbs, tubes and ballasts
  • Asbestos (wetted and double bagged in bags no larger than 3'x3'x3' - 2 bags maximum)
  • Road flares
  • Propane tanks (tanks used for BBQ’s and camp stoves)
  • Motor Oil (in non-returnable container)
  • Antifreeze (in non-returnable container)
  • Auto Batteries
  • Household Batteries (e.g., AAA, AA, C, D, 9-volt, hearing aid, camera)
  • Cooking Oil and Grease (in non-returnable container)
  • Cleaners, bleach, pool chemicals
  • Household injection needles (must be in rigid container with a sealed lid)



NOT Accepted

  • Electronic Waste
  • Large gas cylinders
  • Non-propane or butane gas cylinders
  • Radioactive wastes
  • Infectious waste (containing body tissues or fluids)
  • Controlled substances
  • Explosive wastes
  • Marine flares - contact the Coast Guard.
  • Fireworks - contact the Fire Department. Call (650) 329-2184.
  • Ammunition - contact the Police Department. Call (650) 329-2413

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Physical Limitations At-Home Pick-Up

Home collection of household hazardous waste is a service available for residents with physical limitations. Click here to download a physical limitations application or call (650) 496-5910 to request an application. You will need a doctor's signature confirming your physical limitation.

Once approved, call (650) 496-6980 to schedule your collection appointment. Collections are done on the first Saturday of the month.
 

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Small Business/Non-Profit Organizations

Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator Program (CESQG)

Businesses and non-profit organizations located in the communities of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Stanford, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills that generate less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month can participate in Palo Alto's Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator Program.

A registration and disposal fee is required based on the type and quantity of waste being disposed. Appointments are on Saturdays following the residential HHW drop-off hours. To register for an appointment call the City's hazardous waste contractor (Clean Harbors) at (800) 433-5060.

Hours
First Saturday of the month, by appointment only


Phone
(800) 433-5060


Address
2501 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303


Directions
Take Embarcadero Road east towards the Palo Alto Baylands. As you come to the Palo Alto Golf Course entrance turn right onto Embarcadero Way. Continue on Embarcadero Way and turn left into the Regional Water Quality Control Plant.


Map

Related Links
CESQG Brochure
Fluorescent Light Recycling Fact Sheet


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Transportation Requirements 

  • All waste containers should be properly secured in your vehicle to avoid falling over and spilling.
  • Any leaking containers should be properly contained. Leaking containers can be placed into an unbroken clean container and secured with a lid.
  • A plastic garbage bag can be used to keep odors contained during transportation to a drop off event.
  • Keep your vehicle clean by putting down plastic or cardboard to keep carpets or upholstery clean.
  • Limit 15 gallons or 125 pounds of household hazardous waste per visit. You may make more than one trip to the HHW collection event.


State Law prohibits the transportation of more than 15 gallons or 125 pounds of household hazardous waste without a State hazardous waste hauler permit (HSC 25218.5.1). The City will not accept more than 15 gallons or 125 pounds of HHW per visit. Residents that do not follow the State Law will be turned away. The law helps keep you and the roads safe of potential spills and chemical releases.
 

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Less-Toxic Alternatives

The ultimate solution to the household hazardous waste problem is to reduce dependence on toxic/hazardous products and use them only when necessary. Disposing of these products, even through our program, should be viewed as a last resort. Use less toxic/hazardous alternatives whenever you can and only purchase those toxic/hazardous products in small quantities and use them to completion.

The following are a few tips to help you reduce the amount hazardous chemicals you have in your home and the amount of HHW you produce.

  • Do away with or limit the use of household products that contain hazardous chemicals. Instead of using a caustic drain cleaner use a metal snake instead. Instead of purchasing the large can of product purchase the smaller size. You will be more likely to use this can up more quickly and not have to store the chemical in the home for long periods of time. Check out these web sites to learn more about household products:
  • Purchase less toxics products. These products are safer for the environment and safer for you. It is good to purchase products that have had life cycle analysis performed on them. Look for products that contain less toxic chemicals. Some common “green certification” web sites include:
  • You can also search for less toxic and more sustainable products by visiting Consumer Reports at http://www.greenerchoices.org/
  • Shop at stores that are more environmentally friendly. Palo Alto Hardware has a whole line of green products that are safe for the environment as does Country Sun Natural Foods and Whole Foods Market to name a few.
        • For a list of “Green Businesses” click on the following link: http://www.greenbiz.ca.gov/ShopGreen.html
        • When purchasing paint ask the sales professionals to help you calculate your coverage amount. Coverage amount is the calculated volume of paint needed to paint a given square footage. This saves you money and you purchase only what you need!
  • The most difficult types of household products to recycle are cleaners, corrosives, and poisons (including fertilizers, pesticides, and medicines). It is important to use these types of chemicals sparingly and to completion.

Related Links

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Household Products Database
U.S. National Library of Medicine, ToxMystery (fun for kids!)

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History

Palo Alto’s HHW Program began in 1983. Palo Alto was one of the first jurisdictions in the state to provide collection of household hazardous wastes to its residents in response to community concerns about toxic wastes in the environment. The objectives of the HHW Program were to provide a point of contact for educating the public about the safe use, storage, disposal and alternatives to hazardous products , and to help reduce the release of HHW to storm drains, landfill and the sanitary sewer. In 1986, the Tanner Bill (AB 2948) was passed requiring counties to establish hazardous waste management plans (Health & Safety Code 25135-25135.9). In 1987, the Greene Bill (SB 477) was passed requiring each City to either adopt a city hazardous waste management plan or incorporate the County’s plan into the City’s plan.
 
In 1989, AB 939 was passed mandating that cities adopt and submit a HHW Element, a document that sets policies, objectives and programs for collection of HHW in compliance with state mandates. Palo Alto’s Household Hazardous Waste Element (HHWE) (June, 1991) evaluated HHW alternatives and selected the development of a permanent HHW facility to phase out the monthly collection events that were taking place during that time. At the time, since Palo Alto’s program predated the Santa Clara County (SCC) program, and since Palo Alto had a mature well-run HHW program, Palo Alto decided to continue its own program instead of joining the SCC HHW Program.
 
Initially the HHW Program was operated by volunteer City staff and collection days were infrequent. As the program grew, the collection days increased to four times per year and the City contracted out staffing to a hazardous waste management company. Now collection days are offered every Saturday and the first Friday of the month.


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Related Links

Where To Take Your Batteries, Electronics and Lamps Department of Toxic Substance Control (Santa Clara County residents and businesses/non-profits)

Mail-Back Sharps Systems California Department of Public Health

Last Updated: Jul 8, 2014