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There’s Nothing Scarier Than Hazardous Waste! Recycle Right This Halloween

This Halloween season, you may have seen toxic waste barrels on display as scary decorations or hazmat suits on sale as costumes. The truth is, Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) is no joke!

Hazardous chemicals could be lurking under your sink and in your garage. What is HHW? Household Hazardous Waste is any product labeled: toxic, poison, corrosive, flammable or irritant. Products like these can’t be thrown in the regular trash, or even in the recycling bin because they can seep into our groundwater supplies, causing contamination of our drinking water. Even products like pesticides or pool chemicals that might get washed off a lawn, sidewalk or driveway can pose a risk to waterways from water that is carried from storm drains and gutters into the ocean.


HHW items like these can’t be disposed of in the trash or flushed down the drain.

But HHW isn’t just confined to household cleaners and liquids like paint. Even everyday items like batteries, CFL (or “curlicue”) light bulbs, and electronics have poisonous chemicals like mercury that have to be disposed of properly.


Household batteries shouldn’t be thrown in the trash.


E-Waste like computer monitors, TVs, cell phones, CPUs, and more contain hazardous chemicals that can be recycled property at an HHW collection event.


Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs contain mercury and can’t be thrown in the regular trash.


SHARPS, needles, and lancets are hazardous medical waste and should not be thrown in the regular trash or recycling bin.


The good news is that L.A. County residents have many ways they can recycle these common, household items. One way is to bring your hazardous items to a local HHW Roundup Event. HHW Roundups are held in a different city in the County every weekend, and rotate among all the Cities to provide coverage to everyone in L.A. County. There’s probably an HHW collection event coming up soon near you!


HHW collection events are sponsored jointly by Los Angeles County and the Sanitation Districts. To find a local HHW collection event near you, check the LA County Department of Public Works’ online schedule.


L.A. County also has seven permanent S.A.F.E. centers. SAFE stands for Solvents, Automotive, Flammables, Electronics. At these permanent collection centers, City and County residents can recycle their HHW and E-Waste for free. This includes motor oil, paint, SHARPs, expired medications, batteries, and more. Most centers are open every Saturday and Sunday from 9am–3pm (see locations for specific details). Visit the LA County Sanitation website for more details.

If thinking about getting rid of household cleaners, automotive fluids and other hazardous waste sends a shiver down your spine, make use of these resources to #recycle this holiday season.


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Holiday Recycling: What, Where, and How

We all know the holiday season produces extra stress, but did you know it also produces extra waste? According to CalRecycle, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, 1 million additional tons of waste is produced each week.

Just think of all the excess packaging, paper, cards, wrappers and mail you give and receive around the holidays. It adds up!

The good news is that most extra Christmas waste can be reused; repurposing wrapping paper, gift tags, bags, and ribbons is easy and saves you money every year.

But there are other holiday decorations that might not be so easy to recycle. What do you do with old Christmas lights? Is your tree recyclable? How about the batteries for new toys and the old TVs and cell phones that will be replaced with new ones this year?

Find out below where and what you can recycle this holiday season.

Isolated Christmas tree

Christmas Trees

Last year in Los Angeles County, over 20,000 Christmas trees (over 200 tons!) were recycled by the L.A. County Sanitation Districts. L.A. County offers FREE tree pick-up curbside, as well as a number of locations where you can drop-off trees on Sunday, January 3rd. You can check availability and info by clicking here. Tip: make sure all trees are bare of decorations and tree stands. What happens to Christmas trees when they’re collected? They are recycled into mulch and compost, which some cities give back to their residents for free.

If you don’t want to haul your tree to the curb or take it to a collection site, RecycleTrees will come to your house and recycle your Christmas tree for you! A portion of all proceeds go to TreePeople.


Christmas Lights

Although both incandescent and LED lights can be thrown away in the regular trash, there are many Christmas light recycling programs throughout the U.S. Many hardware stores like Home Depot and ACE Hardware have exchange programs where you can recycle old and broken Christmas lights and receive a coupon for new ones. Trade-ins of this kind are especially useful for upgrading from incandescent to LED lights, which can help reduce the amount of energy you expend.

Another light exchange program is offered by the company HolidayLEDs, which will recycle your old lights for free and then send you a 15% coupon to purchase new, lower energy lights. Another option is Christmas Light Source, which will recycle your old lights, send you a 10% coupon for new ones and donate the profit from the lights to Toys For Tots.


You can drop off rechargeable batteries and old cell phones at Call2Recycle centers in your area. Most Call2Recycle drop-off centers are located next to department and hardware stores, making them a convenient destination while you’re doing your holiday shopping. Make you check what kinds of items they will accept.




S.A.F.E. Centers / Household Hazardous Waste Round-Ups

If you live in Los Angeles and have a lot of electronic waste (televisions, tablets, cell phones, computers, printers, etc.), your best resource is one of the County’s S.A.F.E. Collection Centers. Open to City and County residents, S.A.F.E. Centers also accept motor oil, paint, household chemicals, batteries, medication, fluorescent lights, and Sharps. There are seven facilities located across the County, and most are open every weekend. Check flyer for details.

The County also provides mobile collection events for Household Hazardous Waste (including electronics) in a different City every weekend. To check the HHW Round-Up schedule, click here.

Everything Else

If you ever have a question about what or what cannot be recycled, Earth911.com is an invaluable resource. Simply enter the item you wish to recycle, and your zipcode, and you’ll find out where you can recycle that item. It’s that easy!


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New Year’s Resolution: Recycle Your Electronic Waste!

If you didn’t get any new electronics this holiday, I bet you know someone who did. Christmas is the time for giving: cellphones, computers, tablets, printers, and other electronics top the gift lists of many Americans. But in with the new means out with the old. Where do these old electronics go?



Electronic waste (or e-waste) is classified as hazardous waste–it can’t go in the regular trash. Because of components like cathode rays, lead and other chemicals, e-waste must be recycled separately, just like used motor oil or medical waste.

E-waste can be recycled in LA County at several events, both at Household Hazardous Waste Roundups and at permanent collection centers located throughout the county.

Los Angeles County HHW events in January


But it’s not just the holidays that produce a lot of e-waste. In fact, Americans produce over 65 pounds of electronic waste per person per year! You probably have tons of e-waste around the house you may not even realize is toxic. HHW items include: computers, printers, televisions, VCRs, cell phones, fax machines, stereos, and electronic games. For a full list of where and when to recycle your e-waste (and what items are accepted) visit the LA County Department of Public Works.