County Looks to Expand Hazardous Waste Disposal Program for Small Businesses

The Very Small Quantity Generator program provides businesses that generate small amounts of hazardous waste a convenient way to properly dispose of hazardous materials.
Photo Credit: The County of Santa Clara

The County of Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. — The County of Santa Clara Household Hazardous Waste Program is expanding access to a service that provides a simple and cost-effective way for small businesses to dispose of hazardous waste.

The Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG) disposal program is a drop-off 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.

The VSQG program is cheaper for small businesses than contracting with a private company to pick up and transport their hazardous waste, and it’s easy to use.

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 for protecting public health and the environment in Santa Clara County. 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 during the 2021-22 fiscal year, typically holds two drop-off events per month in San José and one per month in San Martin.

Upcoming drop-off days in November are:

  • San José: Wednesday, Nov. 16
  • San Martin: Tuesday, Nov. 29
  • San José: Wednesday, Nov. 30

Businesses that take part in the program must verify for themselves that they qualify – i.e., that they do not exceed the threshold of 220 pounds, or 27 gallons, of hazardous waste generated per month. 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 at, which includes a downloadable inventory sheet, a schedule of drop-off events, a list of commonly accepted materials, and other useful 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.

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