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Leila’s solutions for hard to recycle items


I Love A Clean San Diego’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database,, helps hundreds of San Diego residents every month to find local solutions to their recycling questions. The online database serves as a resource for residents to seek their own solutions; unfortunately some questions do not have a simple answer and that’s where the I Love A Clean San Diego staff comes in.

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From recycling questions to waste reduction tips, the ILACSD staff can help answer your questions!

As Recycling Call Center attendants, Ani and Leila know firsthand the types of items that are difficult for residents to recycle. Some inquiries require additional research on our part and we gladly take the responsibility of tackling the task to seek the proper locations for disposal. Here is a look at some hard to recycle items and how to properly repair, repurpose, donate or recycle them:

Fluorescent light bulbs and tubes
Countless individuals have “gone green” in their households by switching out traditional incandescent bulbs for energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Making the switch to CFL’s is a great energy conservation strategy that allows households to cut costs while embracing an environmentally friendly choice. However, with great energy savings comes the even greater responsibility of safe and proper disposal. CFLs contain small traces of mercury within the glass tubing, placing the bulbs under the classification of household hazardous waste.  Retailers like Home Depot and Batteries Plus offer free, in-store recycling programs for unbroken CFL bulbs only (spirals, flood lights), however,  recycling programs vary by retailer. When in doubt, visit our database or your local Household Hazardous Waste collection facility. 

Household Hazardous Waste collection facilities accept a variety of items including paint, cleaners, etc.

Railroad Ties
Railroad ties are pressure treated wood that contains creosote, a pesticide used to protect the integrity of the wood. This chemical leaches into the wood over the time, as well as the soil and ultimately the local watershed. Railroad ties are not approved by the EPA for residential use and should not be repurposed for landscape purposes. There are two locations in the County of San Diego that will accept railroad ties: Chula Vista and Ramona. To find out how to properly discard railroad ties, search the database for more information.

DVD’s, VHS Tapes, and CD’s


Perhaps during your spring cleaning you came across some dusty DVD’s, VHS tapes, or CD’s that remind you of a time when CD players still ruled the musical sphere. If it’s time to let go of certain ones, consider using the zero waste hierarchy to keep these materials from entering the landfill.

Reduce: Go virtual! Countless companies provide streaming of movies, TV series, and music. Movie rental kiosks are also a great way to reduce the accumulation of movies, albums, or even video games.

Repurpose: Save those broken CD’s and DVD’s to create beautiful mosaic tile pieces on a table, birdbath, or plant pot!  Great DIY ideas can be found on our Pinterest.

Donate: DVD’s, VHS tapes, and CD’s that are in good condition can be donated to your local Goodwill or thrift store. Some lucky individual will stumble upon it and give it a new home!

Recycle: Be sure to recycle unwanted or damaged DVDs, VHS tapes and CDs at a local recycling center.

Mattress recycling has come to San Diego! The Mattress Recycling Council has recently launched the Illegal Mattress Dumping Compensation Program in California as an approach to mitigate costs of collecting illegally dumped mattresses. The program will provide reimbursement to permitted solid waste facilities and local governments for the number of illegally dumped mattresses collected. Residents can also receive payment for mattresses through MRC’s Bye Bye Mattress Program for up to 5 mattresses at a time.



Riddle: What is made up of a variety of materials like wood, metals, and fiberglass AND can be tricky to recycle? Sometimes referred to as the Relaxing Vacation or more commonly known as Recreational Vehicles, the recycling of an RV presents a challenge to many residents. If the vehicle still has miles to go before it retires, consider donating it!  There are a handful of organizations like Wheels for Wishes, San Diego Armed Services and YMCA that will accept a working RV.

If the RV is damaged and no longer running, it can be disassembled for scrap metal and wood recycling. There are a couple of companies that will even tow your RV to recycle it for a fee.

More information about these items is available on! And if you need a refresher on what is recyclable in your blue bin take a moment to watch I Love A Clean San Diego’s new recycling video!