Cole Hardware Hotline Online
  Hazardous Waste Disposal

How to dispose of leftover oil-based paint and other household hazardous waste within San Francisco ...

    Cole Hardware® is a neighborhood drop off site for the recycling of these hazardous waste materials ONLY:
  • old latex paint
  • used household batteries and used rechargeable batteries
  • copper & brass scrap metal
  • empty ink jet and laser cartridges for recycling.
We do not accept oil-based paint for recycling!

    Over the years we've had the frustrating and costly experience of having folks drop oil-based paint and other types of hazardous waste at our door. We assume that whoever does this is making an uninformed attempt to dispose of their hazardous waste properly. In the spirit of keeping us all well-informed, we offer the following tips on hazardous waste disposal within San Francisco.

What is hazardous waste?

    Many common products we use at home, such as painting supplies, cleaners, solvents, poisons and resins, are made of toxic chemicals. Unwanted leftovers of these products for disposal are called hazardous waste. For safety and environmental reasons, it's against the law to dispose of hazardous waste in your garbage or drains. For instance:
  • When hazardous waste is thrown in the garbage, your garbage collector can be overcome by fumes or be severely injured from physical contact with the hazardous waste. Chemicals can also cause fires in garbage trucks.

  • When hazardous waste is mixed in with common garbage, it cannot be separated for proper disposal, putting our environment at risk.

  • Many common products, including household cleaners, garden pesticides, used motor oil and products used in home improvement projects, can pollute San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean when poured down home drains or street drains, harming fish and wildlife.
Disposal within San Francisco

    Curbside pickup of oil, oil filters, anti-freeze, batteries and latex paint is available in most areas of San Francisco. Call 800/449-7587 for information about how to schedule an appointment.

    If you are a San Francisco resident, you can properly dispose of your household hazardous waste at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility at 501 Tunnel Avenue near Candlestick point. The hours of operation are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday only, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except on certain holidays. Call the Hazardous Waste Hotline at 415/554-4333 for specific questions about using the facility.

    The facility accepts painting supplies, antifreeze, photo-chemicals, aerosols, fertilizers, cleaners, car batteries, motor oil, medical waste, asbestos, solvents, poisons and resins.

    The facility DOES NOT ACCEPT radioactive materials, explosives, materials that are reactive with water (e.g., calcium carbide) or pressurized gas cylinders over 20 lbs.

It's easy to transport oil-based paint and other household hazardous waste to the collection facility:
  • Label all material. Do not mix materials.

  • Make sure all lids are on tightly. If a container is leaking or dirty, place it in a sturdy plastic bag and label the bag.

  • Pack containers in a sturdy box or tub with newspaper or other absorbent materials and transport in the trunk or rear of your vehicle.

  • Asbestos must be bagged in 6 mil. plastic bags (or four heavy garbage bags), and cannot weigh more than 30 pounds per bag.

  • Don't leave hazardous waste materials sitting in the sun or store them overnight in your car.

  • State law prohibits the transportation of more than 15 gallons or 125 pounds of hazardous waste in your vehicle.

  • You will be required to show proof that you live in San Francisco, such as a utility bill or driver's license.

  • When you arrive, stay in your vehicle.
What happens to your hazardous waste after you drop it off?
  • 62%* of the hazardous waste dropped off at the San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility is recycled.

  • 8%* is given to the public for reuse.

  • The remaining hazardous waste is placed into drums and shipped to larger facilities, where it is either burned for fuel (22%*), treated (1%*), destructive incinerated (6%*) or buried in special hazardous waste landfills (1%*).

    * Percentages listed here are approximate.
About empty containers

    Dispose of dry, empty containers (5-gallon size or less) in the trash. Empty metal paint cans and empty aerosol cans can be recycled through your normal recycling program. Be sure to remove lids so your garbage collector can verify that your containers are empty.

    Also see San Francisco Department of the Environment web site and our list of Bay Area Recycling Resources.

    ALWAYS contact an organization before sending or dropping off materials, to be sure the information presented here is current.

Source: City and County of San Francisco Hazardous Waste Management Program

- Hardware Hotline  July, 2000