Marine Flare Collection Event, Saturday, November 2nd

20190917_Marine Flares Social Media Image_d2

San Mateo County Environmental Health Services will be hosting a one-day marine flare collection event on Saturday, November 2nd for recreational boaters who berth a boat or live in San Mateo County. 

Locations & Time
 Pillar Point Harbor 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
1 Johnson Pier, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 

Oyster Point Marina, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. 
95 Harbor Master Road, South San Francisco, CA 94080 

How to Prepare
Step 1: Inventory Your Flares
Inventory the number of flares you have. If you have damaged, decayed, unusual, expired, very old, or large flares, contact San Mateo County by phone or email below for options.

Step 2: Make an Appointment
For more information and to schedule an appointment, contact Wesley Won at 
(650) 655-6217 or If you reach the voicemail, please leave your name, address, phone, email, and number of flares you’d like to dispose of. You will receive a call back confirming your appointment. 

Step 3: Day of Your Appointment
Transport flares safely by keeping them in original packaging, and protecting flares from movement during transportation to the collection event.


Do I have to make an appointment? 
Yes, an appointment is required. To schedule an appointment, contact Wesley Won at (650) 655-6217 or email  

Is there a fee to dispose of my flares? 

Who can participate in the event?
This event is restricted to recreational boaters who berth a boat or live in San Mateo County. No flares will be accepted from businesses or organizations.

What type of flares will you accept?
We will accept handheld, parachute, aerial, and handgun flares. No military-type devices or flares from commercial craft, businesses, or organizations. 

Is there a limit to how many marine flares I can bring?
There is no limit. 

Will this collection event accept any other household hazardous waste?
No other household hazardous waste such as paint, batteries, and oil will be accepted at this event. To make an appointment to safely manage your household hazardous waste, please call (650) 372-6200 or visit

Who should I contact for more information?
Please call Wesley Won at (650) 655-6217 or email 

Marine signal devices are considered explosives and therefore difficult to dispose of.
San Mateo County Environmental Health Services’ Household Hazardous Waste Program is conducting this event with funding from CalRecycle. The event is a pilot program intended to help develop future collection opportunities for boaters to properly dispose of their marine flares. 

Too Good to Waste

Reduce Household Hazardous Waste by Sharing Leftover Unwanted Products 


Have you ever found yourself in the middle of home improvement or cleaning only to realize you are missing one product to complete the job? Instead of racing to the store to purchase an item you may never use again and take up valuable storage space after your project is complete, consider these more sustainable solutions that are better for your wallet and the planet!

1. Ask a neighbor. You’d be surprised that what you need lives in the garage or under the sink next door waiting to be put to good use. If you don’t interact with your neighbors often, consider joining Nextdoor. Nextdoor is a private social media network for your neighborhood that can be downloaded as a mobile app or accessed by logging in on your computer. You’ll often see residents on Nextdoor posting household products for free or looking to exchange.

2. Free Product Give Away Program. Many products collected at San Mateo County’s Household Hazardous Waste collection events are still in good condition. Products include but are not limited to gardening, hobby and craft, automotive care, household cleaners and care products. The Program redistributes these items for free, but remember, please only take what you need. For location and more information, visit


Benefits of Sharing Unwanted Products
• Saves money.
• Saves a trip to the store.
• Reduces resources and energy used in the production and disposal of goods.
• Reduces Household Hazardous Waste.
• Reduces risk of pollution in the environment.
• Keeps your family and pets safe from unwanted chemicals piling up in the
garage or under the kitchen sink.

A Little Battery, A Lot of Harm



Improper battery recycling poses a huge risk to employees and the community

Around 8:30 p.m. on September 7, 2016, employees at the Shoreway Environmental Center’s materials recovery facility (MRF) in San Carlos had just started processing materials after a meal break when they noticed something was terribly wrong.

A small fire had started in one of the automated screens that mechanically separates mixed paper from other recyclables. The fire quickly spread deeper into the facility as materials continued to be conveyed.

“Staff sprang into action and began extinguishing the fires they could access,” said Dwight Herring, General Manager of South Bay Recycling who operates the RethinkWaste*-owned facility. “It was emanating thick, acrid black smoke and the supervisor at the time made the call to evacuate.”

While there were thankfully no injuries, the building interior and processing equipment suffered extensive fire, smoke and water damage — damage significant enough to suspend the facility’s ability to process recyclable materials. After examining the site, fire investigators strongly suspected the ignition source was likely a lithium-ion battery.

It was three months before the MRF could start processing materials again, and an entire year before the building and damaged equipment were fully restored. During this time, some employees were temporarily laid-off while repairs were made.

After the repairs were finished, the facility’s insurance coverage cost increased significantly, ultimately impacting user rates. “Just because the facility shut down doesn’t mean the material flow stopped. We had to make arrangements to have third party haulers come in and remove that material,” Herring said.

Since the fire, the facility has increased staff fire safety training and installed additional fire suppression equipment throughout the MRF, including improved sprinkler systems and an automatic plant-wide system shutdown in the event of fire. But those safety measures can only do so much.

What the Shoreway facility and all haulers in San Mateo County really need is for residents to make sure batteries don’t get put into their recyclables or trash. “When you’re discarding a battery, and you’re discarding it inappropriately — whether it’s the black cart or the blue cart — you’re basically putting a bomb in that container. It takes very little damage to a lithium-ion battery for it to explode,” he said. “You’re literally putting an incendiary device into a pile of paper.”

Recycle your Batteries Right, contact your local waste hauler for recycling options, or visit


Reduce, Recharge, Recycle

Measuring with digital multimeter of rechargeable battery

A multi meter is used to test battery life.

Batteries charge our world and power the devices that make our lives convenient. In an effort to reduce the amount of waste we generate, here are some simple tips for household battery use.

Continue reading

Ditch the Disposables

Calling all campers! Beckoning all BBQers! Tempting all tailgaters! Summer is approaching, and we know you’ll be fueling up your portable stoves and barbeques to grill up the juiciest hot dogs and roast the perfect veggies. That means it’s time to go reusable with 1lb. propane cylinders.


Campers power their portable stove with a refillable 1lb. cylinder.


Why go reusable? Continue reading

Safe Steps for a Successful Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Experience

If you have a variety of unwanted toxic items at home, the safest way to dispose of them is at a County Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) event.

Before you load up the car and make an appointment, read on for tips to make your experience a safe and successful one.

Continue reading

5 Ways to Reduce Hazardous Waste

Here are five ways to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated in your home and the time you have to spend disposing of it.


1. Clean Safer
You don’t bake with bleach, but did you know you don’t have to clean with it either? Many ingredients you cook with can also be used to clean your home. Think lemon, vinegar, and baking soda. For cleaning recipes, visit:

Continue reading

Reduce Hazardous Waste in Your Life

reducinghhwEach time you make an appointment to drop-off household hazardous waste through San Mateo County’s program you are protecting the environment. However, we all recognize it can be a burden to sort and shuffle all that waste into your car, make an appointment, and then drive to get rid of it! But what if we told you there was a way to reduce the amount of drop-off trips while also protecting the environment? Good news, there is a way!

If you reduce the amount of hazardous materials you purchase, the less waste you accumulate, and the less trips you have to make! Not only does it make your life more convenient, it’s safer, may save some cash, and does even more to save the environment.

Today there are so many less-toxic alternatives to replace products that end up as hazardous waste. Here are some to consider….

Continue reading

San Mateo County Wins Exciting Awards

Elizabeth Rouan and her award.

Elizabeth Rouan and her award.

San Mateo County attended a statewide conference in early November and came back with two awards we are very proud to share!

Continue reading

Dropping off Your Household Hazardous Waste is as Easy as 1-2-3!

San Mateo County's Household Hazardous Waste Program is a "full-service" program.

San Mateo County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program is a “full-service” program.

San Mateo County has offered a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program for over 24 years for residents to drop-off a variety of HHW such as cleaning chemicals, batteries, paint, fluorescent lights, propane tanks and more.

The program is free to residents and continues to be a popular way to get rid of unwanted toxic waste.

Next time you use the program – whether it is at our permanent facility in San Mateo or one of our temporary events in Daly City, La Honda, Menlo Park, Pacifica, Portola Valley, or South San Francisco – here are some quick tips to help you help us make the program a success for everyone.

  1. Make an appointment. You can do so online at or by calling (650) 363-4718, select option 3.
  2. Gather your waste in a sturdy box. Don’t mix waste and make sure they are in their original containers. Check our website for a list of accepted waste. The limit per appointment is 10 gallons or 50 pounds.
  3. Arrive at your designated time. The HHW program is “full-service” so stay in your vehicle while we take the waste directly from your car. Just make sure to place it all in an easily accessible location for staff to reach.

And that’s it!

Visit for more information on how to make an appointment and what wastes are accepted.