Skip to content

Keeping SD Waste Free

More than 175,000 pounds of trash were collected at this year’s 91 Creek to Bay cleanup sites located throughout San Diego County. The objects most commonly found at cleanups include furniture, shopping carts, and broken glass. However, some items found at cleanup sites can pose an even more serious threat to our local environment. Tires, electronics, paint and motor oil were hazardous items most often found at Creek to Bay this year. These are also the items that visitors to our recycling database,, and callers to our recycling hotline most commonly request disposal information for.  These items cannot be disposed of in your regular trash, so unfortunately it’s not surprising that they are also commonly found dumped in our canyons, streets, and waterways.

When a tire is illegally dumped in a canyon or even on the side of the road, it can release chemicals as it breaks down that present a fire risk. With our dry Southern California climate this can be extremely dangerous. Also a tire that is abandoned can hold water, which can create a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other disease carrying pests. To avoid these issues, take your tires to the proper place for recycling. Tires can most often be taken to a tire retail store, with a nominal fee. Your local jurisdictions will sometimes hold free collection events where you can drop off your waste tires for recycling with no charge, check with your jurisdiction or visit to see if there’s an event near you.

Tires collected for recycling

Electronic waste (or e-waste) contains heavy metals; these heavy metals are exposed to us as electronics that are illegally dumped begin to break down. Exposure to heavy metals can have detrimental effects to our health; reduced growth and development, cancer, organ damage and nervous system damage can occur due to exposure to heavy metals. E-waste can easily be disposed of for free at an e-waste collection event or at a household hazardous waste collection facility. There are also recycling centers located in San Diego that accept e-waste during their regular business hours, but fees may apply so be sure to call ahead to make sure you’re well informed.

Harsh chemicals are the solvents used in oil based paint; the main solvent used in latex based paint is water. Latex based paint is less harmful to the environment and your health than oil-based paint, and should be used as a substitute whenever possible.  However if either type of paint is poured down a storm drain or sewer system, they have the potential to pollute our groundwater, rivers, and streams. Latex based paint can now be disposed of at many local paint stores that are now participating in a state wide program called Paint Care. There a few conditions the paint must meet in order to be disposed of through the Paint Care program, check out for more information. Oil based paint, as well as latex based paint, can be disposed of for free at a household hazardous waste collection facility. The site you can utilize is based on where you live, so be sure to locate your assigned site on

Just one gallon of motor oil can pollute one million gallons of water or an acre of soil an inch deep.  Motor oil is toxic to animals and humans if ingested, and it can coat the body of aquatic animals and birds. Motor oil can be conveniently be disposed of at many different auto part stores, without a charge and upon request you can even receive money back! Certified Used Oil Collection Centers will take used motor oil from the public and will pay you 40¢ a gallon, find one by visiting (However if your motor oil is contaminated with any other substances, such as water, it would need to go to a household hazardous waste collection facility).

Log on to or call our bilingual recycling hotline at 1-800-237-BLUE to find a recycling center or disposal site near you. We thank you in advance for doing your part to preserve our local environment!