| Household Hazardous Waste
Many common products we use in our homes or at work contain hazardous components. If these products are handled or disposed of incorrectly, they can pose a threat to human health, animals, and the environment. When these products are discarded, they become "household hazardous waste" or HHW. In California, it is illegal to dispose of household hazardous waste in the trash, down the drain, or by abandonment. Household hazardous waste needs to be disposed of through the Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Program. The county facilities will attempt to reuse, recycle, treat, or dispose of the HHW.
Alameda County HHW facilities will take most household hazardous waste from Alameda County residents. Some small businesses may also dispose of hazardous wastes at the County HHW facilities for a small charge. Businesses should check with the HHW facilities for county requirements.
The County facilities will take HHW (and other wastes) such as:
- Paint: stain, shellac, solvents, thinners, additives, oil paint, latex paint
- Adhesives: putty, caulk, epoxy, mortar, stucco, cement, wood glue
- Auto products: old fuel, motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze, additives, batteries, waxes
- Garden: sprays, fertilizers, ant traps, pesticides, herbicides, rat poison, gopher bait
- Misc: Household batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, photo chemicals, acids and caustics, bleach and cleaners, pool chemicals, propane
The Alameda County Household Hazardous Waste Program currently operates three drop-off facilities for household hazardous waste. The facilities, located in Hayward, Livermore and Oakland, are free to all Alameda County residents on a limited drop-in and/or appointment basis.
- Oakland Facility – 2100 East 7th Street, Oakland
- Hayward Facility – 2091 West Winton Avenue, Hayward
- Livermore Facility – 5584 La Ribera Street, Livermore
Please visit www.stopwaste.org or call them at 1-800-606-6606 for hours of operation, proper handling procedures, and specific household hazardous waste they will accept.
Other facilities in or near Berkeley may accept certain types of HHW. This table highlights a few:
For tips on reducing household hazardous waste, visit U.S. EPA at http://www.epa.gov/osw/wycd/homeandgarden.htm.
For environmentally friendly household products, visit U.S. EPA at http://www.epa.gov/dfe/ and Alameda County at http://www.stopwaste.org/home/index.asp?page=585.
For more household hazardous waste recycling options outside of Berkeley, visit the California Integrated Waste Management Board database.
Consequences of Improper Handling and Disposal
Household hazardous waste can have several adverse health effects. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explain why household waste is sometimes hazardous here: http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/
It is important to properly handle and dispose household hazardous waste as they can pose a threat to animals and the environment.
DO NOT throw HHW in the sink or toilet. Doing so brings HHW to septic tanks and/or sewage treatment facilities. This causes contamination that is detrimental to their operation and costly to correct.
DO NOT throw HHW in the trash. Trash goes to a transfer station where HHW may harm sanitation workers and staff who sift through garbage for recycling. Additionally, HHW in trash may ultimately reach a landfill, resulting in landfill contamination with hazardous waste. In rare cases, the landfill may not have a liquid collection liner which may result in groundwater pollution.
DO NOT throw HHW into the street or storm drain. Storm drains flow directly to the creeks and Bay without treatment. Throwing HHW into the street would cause pollution of our aquatic resources.
DO NOT leave HHW around your home. HHW can be harmful to children and pets.