Hazardous Waste

Many products found in your home are potentially hazardous substances. Because of their chemical nature, they can poison, corrode, explode, or ignite easily when handled improperly. When discarded, they are considered household hazardous waste. Since they may threaten human health or the environment when inappropriately disposed of, household hazardous wastes are not exempt from California hazardous waste laws.

Disposing Hazardous Waste

It is illegal to dispose of household hazardous waste in the trash, down storm drains, or onto the ground. Dispose of all Hazardous Waste at Paso Robles Landfill located at:
9000 CA-46
Paso Robles, CA 93446 

Paso Robles Landfill

Hazardous waste can be dropped of at Paso Robles Landfill on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. with the exception of holidays and rainy days. It is open to all residents of San Luis Obispo County free of charge (up to 15 gallons or 125 pounds). Small businesses must first call 805-782-8530.

Types of Wastes Not Accepted

Explosives (ammunition), compressed gas cylinders ( more than 20 gallons), radioactive waste, contaminated soil.

Quantity of Waste Allowed

No more than 15 gallons or 125 pounds total per trip.

Small Businesses

If you are a conditionally exempt small business and generate less than 27 gallons or 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month, the IWMA can provide hazardous waste collection and disposal service for you.

Call 805-782-8530 for more information. For other opportunities for businesses, visit the IWMA Business Programs page.

Appropriate Methods of Disposal

For a chart of all hazardous wastes and their appropriate method of disposal, visit the IWMA Proper Disposal of Household Hazardous Waste page.

Examples of Potential Household Hazardous Wastes

Many common household products are considered household hazardous waste when they are discarded. The following are examples of these products:

  • Antifreeze
  • Batteries and Fluorescent Light bulbs: In San Luis Obispo County, you can take batteries and burned out fluorescent lighting back to any store that sells them for free disposal. View drop-off location list (PDF).
  • Cosmetics
  • Drain openers
  • Fuel injection and carburetor cleaners
  • Fungicides and wood preservatives
  • Grease and rust solvents
  • Household polishes and cleaners
  • Insecticides, herbicides, and rat poisons
  • Latex and oil-based paints
  • Lighter fluids
  • Nail polish and removers
  • Oven cleaners
  • Paint thinners and strippers
  • Sharps/Needles: Currently, there are 44 pharmacy drop-off locations (PDF) found throughout the County for free Sharps Disposal (PDF).
  • Used oil and oil filters
  • Wood and metal cleaners
  • Adhesives

Why They Are Hazardous

Household hazardous wastes are considered hazardous because they fit into one or more of the following categories:

  • Corrosive: Eats away materials and living tissue by chemical action.
  • Flammable: Ignites easily.
  • Reactive: Creates an explosion or produces deadly vapors (e.g., bleach mixed with ammonia-based cleaners).
  • Toxic: Poisonous or lethal when ingested, touched, or inhaled-even in small quantities.

Warning Labels
Before buying a product, read the label. Signal words can serve as a guide to the purchases you make. 

With pesticides:

  • Caution means slightly toxic 
  • Danger means highly toxic
  • Warning means moderately toxic

With household products:

  • Danger means extremely flammable or corrosive or highly toxic
  • Poison means highly toxic
  • Warning or Caution means less toxic 

Problems Than Can Occur

Improper handling or disposal of products containing hazardous ingredients can result in serious accidents to people and animals, who can be seriously harmed by drinking, eating, touching, or breathing household hazardous wastes.

  • Bacteria needed to break down sewer and septic tank wastes can be destroyed by untreated household hazardous wastes.
  • The environment can be seriously damaged when groundwater used for drinking or irrigation is contaminated with household hazardous waste products that have been poured onto or have seeped into the ground.
  • Firefighters can be injured by these household hazardous wastes when responding to a fire.
  • Refuse workers and landfill workers can be injured by chemical splashes or poisonous fumes caused by mixed or concentrated household hazardous wastes.

Avoiding Accidents

Never leave household hazardous products or wastes within reach of children or pets. When possible, buy products with less harmful ingredients (read the labels). When using a product, read and follow the label directions, never mix it with other products, and use it up entirely. Do not dispose of household hazardous wastes in the trash, on the ground, or in storm or sewer drains. Do not remove product labels, and do not remove products from their original containers.

Proper Management of Household Hazardous Waste

  • Recycle leftover household hazardous products that are recyclable and dispose of the others safely by taking them to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility.
  • Reduce by purchasing only the amount you need.
  • Reuse the products by donating unused portions to friends or community organizations.

For a chart of all hazardous wastes and their appropriate method of disposal, visit the IWMA Proper Disposal of Household Hazardous Waste page.