E-Waste & Universal Waste

E-Waste Regulations
It is illegal for California residents to throw most consumer electronics, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs or other mercury-containing products in the garbage. All of these materials are considered a type of Hazardous Waste. Because these materials are so universally disposed of by both households and industry alike they are called Universal Waste. The idea behind the Universal Waste rules is to reduce the lead, mercury, copper and other metals that can leach out when electronic devices are crushed in landfills - polluting groundwater, streams and wildlife.

Examples of Universal Waste
Common Batteries
Rechargeable, alkaline, NiCad, Lithium, silver button, and mercury batteries.

Fluorescent Tubes, Bulbs & Other Mercury-Containing Lamps
These tubes and bulbs contain mercury vapor that may be released into the environment when they are broken.

Thermostats & Thermometers
There is mercury inside the old style thermostats, but not inside the newer electronic type of thermostats. Mercury thermometers also need to be kept out of the garbage.

Electronics such as:
  • Calculators
  • Cell phones
  • Compact disc players
  • Computers
  • Microwave ovens
  • Printers
  • Radios
  • Stereo equipment
  • Telephones
  • Televisions and computer monitors
  • VCRs
These devices often contain heavy metals like lead, cadmium, copper, and chromium.

Mercury-Containing Devices
Other mercury-containing devices such as:
  • Electrical switches and relays
  • Mercury added novelties
  • Mercury gauges
  • Pilot light sensors
What To Do With Universal Wastes
Alkaline Household batteries can be put into zip lock type bags and placed on top of or next to your recycle bin at the curb. All other batteries need to be brought to the Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program at 408-299-7300.

Electronic Devices
The following locations will accept some or all kinds of electronic waste. Please call them before going to find out any restrictions as well as hours of operation:
  • Trinie Martin Recycling Inc, at:
    6310 Chestnut St.
    Gilroy, CA 95020
  • Best Buy will accept nearly all electronics and large appliances at no charge at:
    7011 Camino Arroyo
    Gilroy, CA 95020
    Exceptions may apply; visit their website.
  • Metech International LLC will also accept waste from Gilroy Residents at:
    6200 Engel Way
    Gilroy, CA 95020
    Ph: 408-848-3050, ext. 12
  • The San Martin Transfer Station accepts computer monitors and TVs for recycling. Call 408-842-3358 for more information.
  • Many local organizations also hold 1-day e-waste events as fundraisers.
All Other Universal Wastes
If there is not a location listed that is convenient you can always utilize the Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program. This is an appointment only service for all residents of Santa Clara County. Call 408-299-7300 to get an appointment.