What To Do with These 5 Tricky Items 

Many common household items can go into the recycle, compost, and garbage carts. But did you know that there are items that don’t belong in ANY of your three carts at home? Read below to learn what to do with items that can be tricky to dispose of.  

1. Mattresses 

There comes a time where one ends up with an old mattress that needs to be disposed of. Luckily, mattresses are covered under California State Law to be recycled free of charge because there’s material inside that can be recycled and reused.  

If you’re having a mattress delivered to your home, you can ask the retailer about taking your old one back. For other disposal options, there are drop-off locations you can bring your old mattress to, including the RethinkWaste-owned Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos. For more information, visit our mattress page.   

2. Paint  

It is illegal to dump paint down the drain or in the garbage since it is considered a hazardous material. With the help of the statewide paint stewardship law, there are many convenient drop-off locations to bring leftover paint to (such as a paint store), where it can be recycled or disposed of safely. Both the Shoreway Public Recycling Center (PRC) and the San Mateo County Household Hazardous Waste Program accepts leftover paint from households, at no charge. In addition, the statewide law includes collection of paint from businesses as well. 

3. Electronics 

Even when electronic items stop working, there are still valuable metals inside that can be safely extracted to be recycled and reused. There are a number of ways to safely dispose of your electronic waste.  

  • Collection events, also known as E-SCRAP EVENTS, are organized by your city or town every year. Check our calendar for your city or town’s next e-scrap event. Please note some events do not accept e-scrap. 
  • Bring electronic waste to the SHOREWAY PRC for proper disposal free of charge. 
  • Schedule a BULKY ITEM COLLECTION through Recology San Mateo County by calling (650) 595-3900. Please review what’s allowed and not allowed for Bulky Item Collection here
  • Visit RecycleStuff.org to search for locations near you in San Mateo County and Santa Clara County to dispose of your unwanted electronics. Please note some locations may charge a fee. 
  • GREEN CITIZEN located in Burlingame, CA accepts various electronics for disposal. They accept TVs, computers/servers/laptops, monitors, tablets, network switches and UPS batteries free for recycling, and other electronic items for a fee based on weight of the items. For a full list of items accepted, please visit their website

4. Fluorescent Lights 

Although electricity-saving, fluorescent lights contain a small amount of mercury inside its glass tubing, which means it is considered a hazardous material. Some local businesses that sell these items will take them back after use. You can also bring used fluorescent lights to the Shoreway PRC or check this list of retailers that will take them back. 

5. Small Appliances 

Microwaves, blenders, toasters, waffle makers, these are just a couple of examples of the common small appliances that may exist in many kitchens. If it breaks, consider repairing it. There are plenty of online resources such as tutorials and videos to walk through how to fix certain items. If you’re upgrading an appliance, consider giving your used one away to someone who may want it through donation centers, online trading applications, or asking friends or family if they’re interested.  

If you’ve tried the above options and still have appliances to get rid of, take them to the Shoreway PRC at no charge. 

We accumulate a variety of waste, and sometimes it isn’t as straightforward as dropping it in your recycle, compost, or garbage carts. But it can still be convenient!  

You might have noticed that all five of these types of tricky items can be brought to the Shoreway Public Recycling Center (PRC) in San Carlos for safe disposal or recycling free of charge. The PRC is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and is open for any resident to use for household items, regardless of if you live in the RethinkWaste service area or not. For more information about the PRC, visit our Location, Hours & Services page. Hopefully next time when you find yourself needing to dispose of these tricky items, you’ll know exactly what to do!