Hazardous Waste Disposal

San Juan County is currently working to schedule the Spring 2024 hazardous waste collection events. Stay tuned! We expect to announce the details in early 2024.


What?   The hazardous waste roundup collection events are our community's opportunity to legally and responsibly dispose of poisonous, flammable, corrosive or other hazardous chemicals.

Why?   Proper disposal protects your health and the health of the workers that handle your waste.  Proper disposal also keeps chemicals out of our drinking water and out of the environment.

On December 1, 2023, a routine trash compaction at The Exchange/Orcas Recycling Services led to a dangerous situation. A cloud of noxious gas triggered emergency protocols, forcing closure and evacuation. 

The response was swift: 911 was called, the area cleared, and authorities brought in to assess the situation. The cause? Ruptured containers holding chemicals created a hazardous mix in the trash.

Let's keep our community safe! Remember, hazardous waste doesn't belong in the trash. Learn more about the incident here.

Where?   At your island’s solid waste facility (aka, “the dump”).

When?   The schedule:

Friday Harbor, May 3: Businesses, May 4: Households 

Lopez Island, May 11: Households

Orcas Island, June 1: Households 

Decatur Island, June 15: Households

Click here to learn more about the quarterly hazardous waste events held at The Exchange/ORS on Orcas Island.

What can I bring?   Pesticides, fungicides and other poisons, gasoline and other used fuels, wood preservatives, solvents and thinners, pool and photo chemicals, resins, corrosives, degreasers, cleaning products, mercury, rechargeable batteries, propane cylinders (small, camping style), and aerosols.  

What not to bring?   The following are not accepted at the roundup:

  • Flares, explosives, or ammunition – deliver these to the Sheriff's Office.  
  • Antifreeze, motor oil (unless the oil is mixed with water or other fuels), and vehicle batteries – recycle at your island’s solid waste facility during regular business hours.  
  • Spent fluorescent light tubes and bulbs – bring to the Exchange or OPALCO on Orcas, Ace Hardware and OPALCO on San Juan, and Lopez Solid Waste on Lopez.
  • Children or pets.  These are not hazardous waste and we want to keep them safe!
  • BBQ-style propane tanks (please take those to your island's transfer station during their regular operating hours).
  • We encourage you to take your latex and oil-based paints and stains to the nearest PaintCare recycling site outside of these events to leave enough room for other products – ORS/the Exchange on Orcas, Ace Hardware on San Juan, and Lopez Solid Waste on Lopez all participate in this program.

How much will it cost?   There is NO CHARGE for HOUSEHOLDS disposing of 25 gallons or less of hazardous waste (please bring materials in containers that are no larger than 5 gallons). Your disposal costs will be paid by the San Juan County Solid Waste Program and Washington Department of Ecology.  BUSINESSES will be charged for their disposal costs and must pre-register 10 days before the event (call or email Katie at 360-762-5821 or katief@sanjuanco.com to register).


 Hazardous Waste Collection and PaintCare Washington *NEW*

Hazardous waste collection in the Islands are special events that target proper disposal of items deemed too hazardous, and unable to be disposed of in existing solid waste facilities. The events occur annually in the summer on different Islands. The County also has a hazardous waste drop-off storage unit at the solid waste facility on Orcas for collection of small quantity items between the yearly events. The latest planned events are listed above. In general, the containers holding the hazardous waste are not returned to participants on account of safety and other considerations, so please plan accordingly.

Household hazardous wastes come in the form of liquids, solids, or contained gases. They are often ordinary commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides that should not be thrown in the trash or poured down the drain or on the ground. Island drinking water is particularly susceptible to contamination by discarded waste.

San Juan County and the Washington Department of Ecology conduct annual events to remove these toxic materials from our islands and maintain a healthy environment. At the roundup events, individual households and businesses deliver their hazardous materials, where they are securely packaged by trained professionals, barged to the mainland and disposed at specialized facilities. Hazardous waste disposal is costly and routinely exceeds $70,000 each year for our Solid Waste Program to dispose. Hazardous products not only pose a higher level of risk to one's household, neighbors, and wildlife, but they often cost more than a green certified product over the time of its use. Please see our Shop Safer handout for more information regarding how to locate safer, greener certified products: Here. 

PaintCare Washington is a completely new product stewardship program also known as the WA Paint Bill. This law requires that all new paint include a point-of-sale fee that allows for all previously purchased and new paint to be reused, recycled, or properly disposed of at no additional cost. San Juan County now has registered PaintCare service provides at Orcas Island (Orcas Recycling Services), San Juan Island (Ace Hardware), and Lopez Island (Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District). The program came into effect April 1, 2021 and services are now available year-round at these locations in our county (see business hours & details). For a complete list of PaintCare accepted items, please visit https://www.paintcare.org/wp-content/uploads/docs/xx-program-products-list.pdf. More questions? Please contact your local waste station or the County Environmental Stewardship Solid Waste Program at solidwaste@sanjuanco.com


Hazardous Waste Round-up, San Juan Island, September 2020