In California, batteries are considered hazardous waste when they are discarded because of the metals and/or other toxic or corrosive materials contained within. This includes all batteries sizes: AAA, AA, C, D, button cell, 9 Volt, and all other batteries, both rechargeable and single use. Therefore, batteries must be recycled, or taken to a household hazardous waste disposal facility or an authorized recycling facility.
Until they can be disposed of properly, caution should be taken when storing used or old household batteries. It is recommended that the exposed positive (+) terminals of the batteries be covered with electrical tape (or stored separately in ziplock bags) to inhibit the terminals from coming into contact or rubbing with other terminals or objects that can potentially cause a fire.
Where to Recycle or Safely Dispose Household Batteries
Santa Clara County has free household drop-off locations where residents can properly dispose of their used batteries during business hours. Recycling drop-off locations are for residents (households) ONLY. Residents are reminded to tape the positive (+) terminal on the batteries before dropping them off (D.O.T Regulation).
- Rechargeable Battery and Cell Phone Drop-Off Locator—Find where to recycle used rechargeable batteries from the Call2Recycle Web site.
- eRecycle.org—Recycle your batteries and electronics.
- Local Governmental Household Hazardous Waste Agencies — See the website to locate your local governmental household hazardous waste agency (listed by county) for the latest information in your area.
- The Big Green Box — The Big Green Box™ is a national program that offers companies, consumers, municipalities, and other generators, a low cost, easy, and flexible way to recycle their batteries and portable electronic devices. Once The Big Green Box™ is purchased, all shipping, handling, and recycling fees are included. The Big Green Box™ includes a UN approved, pre-labeled container, pre-paid shipping to and from the recycling facility, and of course, all recycling fees.
- Battery Solutions — Battery recycling solutions for businesses, governmental agencies, and consumers.
- Kinsbursky Brothers Inc — A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permitted battery-recycling facility in California.
Businesses are requested to call PSC Environmental at (916) 351-0980 to inquire about disposal and obtain business drop-off locations.
The cost of disposal for businesses is $25.00 processing fee and $1.00 per pound of waste.
For more information on recycling batteries, visit CalRecycle.
Additional Helpful Links
Where should I take my old batteries? Many local government agencies and retailers run programs that accept batteries and send them off for recycling. For information on local collection programs, locate your local governmental household hazardous waste agency (listed by county) for the latest information in your area: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/Directory/
How should I store my old batteries until I can take them to a recycling center? Store your old batteries in a safe, dry place and out of the reach of children. For an extra measure of safety, place masking tape or some other seal over the terminals (battery ends).
Are retailers required to accept used batteries from consumers for recycling? Retailers of rechargeable batteries sold to consumers must accept and collect used rechargeable batteries for reuse, recycling or proper disposal. Although retailers are not required to take back any other kind of universal waste batteries, many voluntarily take back alkaline and other universal waste batteries. Check with your local retailer.
Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program
The Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program (HHW) helps protect the environment and public health by collecting and properly disposing of hazardous waste from homes and small businesses. This program also provides the community with practical pollution prevention options for the use and recycling of products containing hazardous substances.
Bring your household hazardous waste to one of the free HHW drop-off events outlined in our Operating Schedule. Please note: HHW does not accept any household hazardous waste at the business office. Site addresses and directions to the facilities are only made available to residents at time-of-appointment to prevent unauthorized drop-offs and to ensure safe collection by professional staff.
To participate, click the self-service link below:
Make an Appointment or call (408) 299-7300
Attention Cupertino and Palo Alto residents: Please do not make an appointment with the link above. Contact your city's Household Hazardous Waste program listed below:
You may not use the residential program. If you are a small business, call (800) 207-8222 to find out if your business qualifies for the Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG) Program.
For more information on household hazardous waste or to locate a drop-off designated facility, please contact the Santa Clara County HHW appointment line at (408) 299-7300, Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or via email.
Earth 911 offers a comprehensive, user-friendly recycling and product disposal information available. Provides recycling and product disposal resources for over 200 families of materials, and is the only recycling search on the web, with information for over 100,000 programs and locations across the U.S., including:
- Municipal curbside programs
- In-store, retail programs
- Drop-off locations and centers
- Mail-back programs
- Local & municipal events
California Materials Exchange (CalMAX):
CalRecycle's CalMAX portal connects businesses, organizations, manufacturers, schools, and individuals with the most effective online resources for exchanging materials. One business' trash is another business' treasure. By reusing materials, we conserve energy, resources, and landfill space, while reducing disposal, green house gas emissions, and purchasing costs.
Fluorescent Lamp Drop-off Locations within Santa Clara County
Recycle your fluorescent bulbs (compact bulbs & straight, circular, spiral, & U-bent tubes) for FREE at the following retail stores during normal business hours. Recycling partner drop-offs are for residents (households) ONLY. Businesses please call (408) 299-7300 and ask for a business drop-off.
Recycling Programs in Other Counties
For more information on waste reduction and recycling in the following counties:
- Alameda County
- Contra Costa County
- Marin County
- Mendocino County
- Merced County
- Monterey County
- Napa County
- Solano County
- San Benito County
- San Joaquin County
- San Mateo County
- Santa Clara County: See information above
- Santa Cruz County
- Sonoma County
- Stanislaus County
State law prohibits a person from placing home-generated sharps in their trash or recycling containers. Home-generated sharps are defined as disposable hypodermic needles, syringes, lancets, and other medical devices used for self-injection or blood test.
To safely dispose of your used home-generated sharps, place them in an approved biohazard container and contact your physician, clinic administrator, or pharmacist and ask if they have a take-back program in place.
If you purchase sharps on-line, request a pre-addressed, prepaid mail-back box for your used sharps. The Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program also accepts home-generated sharps as well as many pharmacies throughout the County.
Properly disposing home-generated sharps is as easy as:
- Purchase a sharps container from your local pharmacy.
- Place home-generated sharps in the container.
Keep out of reach of children.
- Bring the full, sealed container to one of the listed facilities below for free disposal.
Properly disposing of your used sharps will help protect your family,
community, the public and our environment.
ALL SHARPS MUST BE DISPOSED OF IN APPROVED SHARPS CONTAINERS.
PLEASE DO NOT THROW SHARPS IN THE TRASH.
Sharps disposable containers can be purchased at local pharmacies. If you have further questions or need more information, please contact the Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program at 408-299-7300.
The following County Fire fire stations have drop boxes that accept approved sealed sharps containers (as pictured above):
NOTE: approved sharps container size requirement for these drop boxes are 1 or 1.5 quart size ONLY!
- Shannon Fire Station - 16565 Shannon Road, Los Gatos 95030
- West Valley Fire Station - 19800 Cox Avenue, Saratoga 95070
Receptacles that resemble mailboxes are clearly marked, and located outside the fire stations. Sharps containers deposited in the receptacle are picked up by Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program.
Other Disposal Options
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)
Place used home-generated sharps into an approved sharps container. When container is 3/4 full, permanently seal container and make an on-line appointment to dispose through HHW or call HHW Hotline Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm 408.299.7300.
Palo Alto residents, please call your city's HHW program directly at: City of Palo Alto - 650-496-6980
- Kaiser Permanente - Campbell Medical Offices (Kaiser Members only) - 220 E. Hacienda Avenue, Campbell 95008
- For Cupertino residents: City of Cupertino Household Hazardous Waste Program - 800-449-7587
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation – Los Altos Center (Patients only) - 370 Distel Circle, Los Altos, CA
- Los Altos Pharmacy – 255 2nd Street, Los Altos 650-948-1212
- Community Hospital of Los Gatos (Patients only) – 815 Pollard Road, Los Gatos
- FMC Dialysis (Patients only) - 14651 S. Bascom Avenue, Los Gatos
- Mission Oaks Campus of Good Samaritan – 15891 Los Gatos-Almaden Road, Los Gatos
- Shannon Fire Station - Drop Box - 16565 Shannon Road, Los Gatos 95030
Approved Sharps Container Size Requirement: 1 or 1.5 quart size for drop-off box
- Summit Veterinary Hospital & Kennel - 23291 Summit Road, Los Gatos
- West Valley Fire Station - Drop Box - 19800 Cox Avenue, Saratoga 95070
Approved Sharps Container Size Requirement: 1 or 1.5 quart size for drop-off box
Mail-Back Systems - By using an approved mail-back system, you can dispose of your medical waste in a safe and economical fashion. These systems allow you to safely return your medical waste in an approved container to an appropriate medical waste treatment facility. Current list of mail-back services authorized for use in California can be found here.
The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors adopted a Safe Drug Disposal (SDD) ordinance in 2015. The Medication, Education and Disposal (MED) Project is a community drug take-back program and provides drop off locations at local law enforcement agencies and pharmacies to allow residents to bring expired or unwanted medicines to a convenient, centralized location for proper disposal. MED Project accepts expired medications, medicinal liquids and controlled substances. Do not flush medications down the toilet.
Residents can safely dispose of medications in different ways:
- Several Locations throughout Santa Clara County
- Mail Back Packages
- Take Back Events
For a list of drop off locations, mail-back package distribution locations, or take-back events, see below:
- Medication, Education and Disposal (MED) Project 1.844.MED.PROJ or 1.844.633.7765
- Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program 408.299.7300
- Mail-Back services for unwanted medicine are available to homebound residents upon request.
Please call the hotline at 1.844.MED.PROJ or visit the mail-back page of www.med-project.org/SCC to request a pre-paid envelope to return unwanted or expired medicine.
For more information, visit the Santa Clara County Recycling & Waste Reduction Division.
Don't Rush to Flush - find a drop off bin near you
Additional Helpful Links