Household Hazardous Waste & Electronic Waste

What is HHW | How to Dispose of HHW | Lithium-Ion Batteries | Homebound Residents | Surrounding Areas | PaintCare Stewardship 

What is Household Hazardous Waste & Electronic Waste?

Household hazardous waste (HHW) is any material (gas, liquid, or solid) from a home that may pose a health threat to people, animals, or the environment if handled or disposed of improperly. Common examples include chemicals labeled "poison," "toxic," "flammable," "corrosive," or "reactive," electronic devices, batteries, medical sharps, paint, motor oil, and products containing mercury (including fluorescent bulbs).  

HHW should never be thrown into the trash or poured down the sink, sewer or storm drains.  Improper disposal may injure refuse workers, pollute ground water, waterways, and the ocean, potentially destroying marine life.  For these reasons, improper disposal is illegal. 

How Do I Dispose of HHW?

If you would like to dispose of household hazardous waste (HHW) and electronic waste (e-waste), the City offers 8 free collection events each year for City of La Mesa residents.   HHW can be dropped off by appointment only and there is a limit of 15 gallons, 125 pounds, or five monitors and/or TVs. 

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If you live within the city limits, please call EDCO at 619.287.5696 ext. 4270, book a time slot online on EDCO's HHW webpage, or email to schedule an appointment. Be sure to include your name, address, and telephone number.

How To Properly Dispose of Lithium-Ion Batteries

Watch this  EDCO video to learn about proper lithium-ion battery disposal, including the dangers of throwing lithium-ion batteries in curbside trash and recycling.

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What are lithium-ion batteries?: A lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery that uses lithium ions to create and store energy. Lithium-ion batteries can be found in everyday electronics, such as smartphones, laptops, power tools, and toys.

What happens when lithium-ion batteries are improperly disposed of?: Lithium-ion batteries found in household electronics are often improperly placed in household trash or recycling bins, which poses a hazard to the community. When trash collection trucks and recycling facilities crush or jostle these batteries, they have a high potential to combust, leading to dangerous blazes. If located in a deep trash or recycling pile, everything can catch fire, creating a critical situation. Unlike typical fires, lithium-ion-fueled fires cannot be put out with water. Water does not deprive the oxygen of fire, it merely interacts with it. The batteries need to be isolated and given space for the fire to die down. To avoid putting truck drivers and community members at risk, DO NOT put lithium-ion batteries in curbside trash or recycling bins.

Since many electronics can be recycled, can they be put in the curbside recycling bin?: This is a common misconception. Electronics can be recycled, however, they cannot be placed in household trash and recycling bins. In California, it is illegal to dispose of them in this way. In addition to the fire hazard they pose, municipal waste and recycling facilities are not built to handle these types of batteries. Additionally, old lithium-ion batteries and electronics that end up in landfills can leach toxic, corrosive chemicals into the soil and water table, endangering human health and the environment.

How can lithium-ion batteries be properly disposed of?: All batteries and electronic waste must be properly disposed of at household hazardous waste facilities or events. They should NEVER be placed in trash or recycling collection containers.

Residential customers can now conveniently recycle their household batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, and 9V only) for FREE at an EDCO facility near them (during operating hours only).  The La Mesa facility is located: 

EDCO Station Buyback Center

8184 Commercial St.
La Mesa, CA 91942
(619) 466-3355

The operating hours are 11 am to 3:30 pm Monday to Friday and 7:30 am to 3 pm on Saturday.

Lithium-ion Battery Disposal

Information for Homebound Residents

Residents with physical or other limitations that prevent them from driving are eligible to participate in the City of La Mesa’s household hazardous waste/electronic waste Home Pickup Program. This program is available to La Mesa residents of any age who are physically unable to participate in a drop-off event. If you meet the criteria, call EDCO at 619.287.5696 ext. 4270 to schedule a home pickup.

Surrounding Areas

If you live in Mt. Helix, Casa de Oro, Rancho San Diego, Spring Valley, or another unincorporated area, call the County of San Diego at 877.713.2784 for household hazardous waste program information in your area.

PaintCare Paint Stewardship Program

Recycle your leftover paint with PaintCare, an industry sponsored paint stewardship non-profit program established to manage the reuse, recycling and proper disposal of unused architectural paint. PaintCare has established hundreds of drop-off sites at paint retail stores, government-run household hazardous waste facilities, and other locations across California. These sites accept program products (primarily latex and oil based paint) in containers of 5 gallons or less from all residents and certain businesses.

Locate a participating PaintCare location. 

Learn more about PaintCare in California.

Additional Resources