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December 7, 2022

County looks to expand hazardous waste disposal for small businesses

About 300 local companies participate, and there is room for more 

The County of Santa Clara Household Hazardous Waste program is expanding access to a service that helps small businesses dispose of hazardous waste in a safe and cost effective manner.

The county’s Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG) disposal program is a dropoff service for businesses that generate fewer than 220 pounds, or 27 gallons, of hazardous waste per month, from paint and motor oil to batteries and propane tanks, says a press release from county staff.

The VSQG program is cheaper for small businesses than contracting with a private company to pick up and transport their hazardous waste, according to county staff.

Roughly 300 businesses use the program every year, but the county has capacity for more businesses to take part. Nonprofits and property managers are also eligible to participate.

Properly disposing of hazardous waste is important to protecting public health and the environment in Santa Clara County, says the press release. Reducing the use of these materials and ensuring they are disposed of safely is a key strategy in the county’s Sustainability Master Plan.

“We encourage small businesses that qualify for the Very Small Quantity Generator program to take advantage of this cost-effective and easy-to-use service,” said Billy Puk, program manager of the VSQG program. “The VSQG program is an effective way to reduce threats to our health and environment and make our community more sustainable.”

The VSQG program, which collected 64,560 pounds of hazardous waste in Santa Clara County during the 2021-22 fiscal year, typically holds two drop-off events per month in San José and one per month in San Martin.

Drop-off days in November are:

– San Martin: Tuesday, Nov. 1

– San José: Wednesday, Nov. 2

– San José: Wednesday, Nov. 16

– San Martin: Tuesday, Nov. 29

– San José: Wednesday, Nov. 30

A calendar of upcoming drop-off events is available on the HHW program website.

Businesses that take part in the program must verify for themselves that they qualify by not exceeding the threshold of 220 pounds, or 27 gallons, of hazardous waste generated per month, says the county’s press release. Businesses may bring more than that amount to a facility in a given month so long as they don’t drop off more than 2,640 pounds, or 324 gallons, in a calendar year.

It’s also important for businesses to make sure their inventories are accurate.

To participate in the VSQG program, businesses need to submit an inventory and set up an appointment. Program staff will provide a quote based upon the inventory.

Prices for common items include:

– Alkaline batteries: $2 per pound

– Aerosol cans: $4 each

– Latex paint: $6 per gallon

– Oil paint, paint thinner and other paint-related materials: $15 per gallon.

The program is a drive-through service; technicians remove HHW from your vehicle.

Will Thornton, materials and facilities lead for Second Source Medical, a medical device manufacturing company in San José, typically drops off HHW once a month, bringing materials the company uses to build and clean their products such as epoxies and isopropyl alcohol.  

“It’s really smooth,” Thornton said. “I don’t even need to get out of the car. They take my inventory and payment, unload the vehicle, and I’m out of there within five minutes.”

To learn more about the program, visit the county’s Very Small Quantity Generator program webpage, which includes a downloadable inventory sheet, a schedule of drop-off events, a list of commonly accepted materials, and other information. For questions, call 800.207.8222.

In addition to the VSQG program, the county’s Household Hazardous Waste Program operates a free drive-through service for residents to dispose of hazardous materials from their home. The HHW Program collected a total of more than 2.9 million pounds of hazardous waste last fiscal year from residents and businesses.

Follow the HHW Program on social media at Twitter.com/SCCHHW and Facebook.com/SCCHHW.

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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