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Medical Waste and Sharps!

How to Store and Dispose of Medical Waste and Sharps!

Medication waste is synonymous with drug waste, pharmaceutical waste, unused or expired medication, unused or expired drugs, prescription and over-the-counter human drugs, veterinary drugs, diagnostic agents, and nutritional supplements. Sharps include lancets, hypodermic needles, syringes, scalpel blades and broken glass articles (other than household items). According to state law, an approved sharps container is rigid, leak-proof, puncture resistant, sealed and clearly marked with the bio-hazard symbol.

DO NOT…

  • Flush your sharps waste or medications down the toilet or drain.
  • Place your sharps waste in the trash, green waste, or recycling bin.
  • Put needles into used plastic milk jugs, bleach bottles, or soda bottles.
  • Never place medical waste and sharps in the trash or recycling container.

To properly store medical sharps prior to disposal:
Place in a rigid, hard plastic or metal container with a screw-on or tight-fitting lid. The container should be puncture-resistant and leak proof. Milk containers are not puncture resistant. Once the container is 3/4 full, close the lid tightly and seal it with duct tape. Mark the container very clearly “SHARPS.”

Containers specifically made for sharps storage can be purchased at pharmacies or medical supply stores. Including:

  • Health Care Partners Medical Group, 3565 Del Amo Blvd., Torrance, 90503 (310) 793-4647. Hours: Monday to Friday – 8am to 5pm
  • Some Goodwill Stores distribute sharps containers for free. Click here for a listing.

To properly dispose of medical sharps:
Medical sharps are a hazardous waste that cannot be disposed with regular trash. Below are a list of ways to properly dispose of medical waste and sharps.

Drop-off Collection Sites
Filled sharps containers can be taken to appropriate collection sites, which may include doctors’ offices, hospitals, health clinics, pharmacies, health departments, community organizations, police and fire stations, and medical waste facilities.

L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has drop-off locations for medical sharps and all drugs and medicines. Click here for a listing of locations or visit their website.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sites
Self-injectors can take their used sharps to household hazardous waste collection sites, and place them in the sharps collection bins.

For a hazardous waste drop off event or permanent hazardous waste facility, visit 888CleanLA.gov for a list of upcoming HHW collection events and permanent facilities.

Mail-Back Programs
Used sharps can be mailed (in accordance with U.S. Postal Service requirements), to a collection site for proper disposal. Mail-back programs are available for individual use by sharps users, and can also serve as a disposal method for community collection sites, but there may be a charge, so please contact them. Click here for the list of sharps mail-back providers.


For more information, please contact the City of Torrance Public Works Department at 310-781-6900 or click here to go to the website.

Rain Barrel!

Conserve water and energy!

A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams.

Usually a rain barrel is composed of a 55 gallon drum, a vinyl hose, PVC couplings, a screen grate to keep debris and insects out, and other off-the-shelf items, a rain barrel is relatively simple and inexpensive to construct and can sit conveniently under any residential gutter down spout.

Ready-made rain barrels can be purchased from a number of companies, including hardware stores and garden supply stores.

The Rain Barrel International is now offering a series of Truckload Sales in the Los Angeles area. Rain Barrels are available for $85, purchases must be made online in advance of event. Visit their website www.RainBarrelsIntl.com for a list of upcoming events.

Here are some benefits of having a Rain Barrel at your home:

  • A rain barrel diverts water from municipal storm drain systems and protects our water systems from runoff pollution.
  • A rain barrel collects water and stores it for when you need it most, during periods of drought.
  • It provides an ample supply of free “soft water” to homeowners, containing no chlorine, lime or calcium making it ideal for gardens, flowerpots, and car and window washing.
  • A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months.
  • Saving water not only helps protect our environment, it saves you money and energy by decreased demand for treated tap water.

Diverting water from storm drains also decreases the impact of runoff to streams. Therefore, a rain barrel is an easy way for you to have a consistent supply of clean, fresh water for outdoor use. Click here for Tips to Place and Maintain a Rain Barrel.

The Metropolitan Water District also offers a $75 rebate for up to 4 rain barrels per household! To receive rebate, the barrel must be at least 50 gallons and designed for the intended purpose of rain capture. Click here for Rebate Guidelines.

For further rebate information visit www.socalwatersmart.com or call 1-888-376-3314.

New Year Cleaning!

Large, Bulky Item Pick-Ups!

The holiday season has come and gone … and left a mess behind. Looking around, you wonder how you’ll ever replace your old couch and appliances with your new ones! Well, the City of Torrance will pick up your old items from you for FREE!

For residents with City services for rubbish and recycling, a free pickup of large or bulky items can be requested. Large item collection is available on an on-call basis once per calendar year per address.

The City will pick up twenty (20) items per pick up.

  • Small items must be tied in bags.
  • To schedule your once a year large item pickup, call our customer service office, Global Water, toll-free at 855-354-5623, Monday through Thursday, 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.
  • Your pick up will take place the following week on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
  • Place items where recycling is picked up, at least five feet away from your trash and recycling containers.
  • Torrance Municipal Code states that materials cannot be placed for collection earlier than 12 hours before the scheduled pickup.
  • Cancellations must be made at least one day in advance of your scheduled pickup.

The following are NOT collected as part of this program:

  • Construction materials (examples: wood, concrete, bricks, and drywall)
  • Major yard cleanup debris (examples: trunks and stumps, sod, and dirt)
  • Wall-to-wall carpeting
  • Auto parts
  • Spas, hot tubs
  • Pianos, organs
  • Household hazardous wastes, including TVs, computer monitors, and electronics. If you have hazardous waste or electronics, click here for suggestions.

Residents are also encouraged to consider recycling any items in usable condition by donating them to a non-profit organization. The following organizations provide pick-up or drop-off service:

  • Goodwill: 562-435-7741
  • Salvation Army: 800-958-7825
  • Habitat for Humanity: 310-323-5665

For residents with working refrigerators to be discarded, you may be entitled to a rebate from Southern California Edison. Click here for details.

For residents who have items the City will not take, or for those who have already used the large item pick up for the year, click here for a list of local transfer stations that are open to the public. Please call ahead for prices, accepted materials, recycling options or other requirements.

Please note: Large Item Collection is not available during the time of our Christmas tree recycling program, which usually starts after Christmas and continues for about two weeks.

Have a ‘Green’ Christmas!

Christmas is a time of giving!

This year try giving back to the environment by reducing the impact of the holiday season. In fact, Americans produce about 1 million extra tons of trash around the holidays, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Having a ‘Green’ Christmas is not about going without; it’s about using your imagination to show extra care for the environment during the holiday season.

Here are a couple of simple tips on having a ‘Green’ Christmas, this year:

Homemade gifts, cards, and decorations! When it comes to cards, gift tags, and wrapping, there is a lot of waste involve.

  • Making your own gifts at Christmas time is an excellent way of ensuring they’re eco-friendly and well within budget
  • There are an infinite number of possibilities, with a bit of creativity and imagination

Alternatives to wrapping paper! In the US, the annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals over 4 million tons.

  • Use environmentally friendly wrapping paper
  • Avoid buying glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper
  • Reuse gift-wrap where possible

Low impact of holiday lighting! A smaller presentation of lights can still be attractive and can lower your electricity bill during the holidays.

  • Use LED lights to decorate the outside and lighting the Christmas tree
  • Reduce the size of outdoor and indoor lighting displays
  • Turn tree lights and outdoor house decorative lighting on at bedtime

Choose a live tree! Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice.

  • When Christmas passes, the tree is 100% biodegradable and recyclable (Visit the City of Torrance website for more information on Christmas tree recycling in Torrance)
  • Old trees can be turned into wood chips to use in compost and mulch to further nourish your soil

Recycle Old Paint!

Recycling leftover paint in California just got more convenient!

PaintCare, a non-profit organization, helps to dispose of paint properly and for free by creating a stewardship of drop-off locations.

Latex, water-based, and acrylic-based paints can be recycled and made into new products, such as concrete, cement and other additives. It’s always good to recycle your paint to conserve resources.

Oil-based paints, however, are considered household hazardous waste (HHW) and should NEVER be tossed in the trash! Even if paint is dried, oil-based paint should be disposed of at the local HHW facility listed below.

S.A.F.E. Collection Center
1400 N. Gaffey St.
San Pedro, CA 90021
Open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 3 pm. Except Holidays and rainy days.

To recycle latex paints, remove the lid from the can and allow the paint to dry out and harden completely. Once the paint has dried completely, it’s ready to be recycled. Bring your cans to a recycling facility.

Below are local PaintCare sites where you can take your unwanted paint:

These sites accepts latex and oil-based house paint, stains and varnish in containers up to 5 gallons in size. These sites do NOT accept aerosols (spray paint or other spray products), containers without original labels, or containers that are empty or leaking.


If you have leftover, unwanted paint that is in good condition, you can donate it to nonprofits and other groups in your area for reuse in remodeling, set design and other applications. Such as high school drama departments, community theater groups, schools, charities and places of worship

Steel paint cans are also recyclable. To recycle, the paint can must be completely empty prior to placement into your Gray curbside recycling bin.

For more information on paint recycling and disposal visit www.PaintCare.org.

America Recycles Day!

On November 15th Keep America Beautiful!

Each year on November 15th, millions of people across the country participate in America Recycles Day a national initiative by Keep America Beautiful.

America Recycles Day (ARD) is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and buy recycled products. Since its inception in 1997, the ARD campaign has grown to include millions of Americans.

The average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash in a single day, but Americans only 35 percent of the country’s waste is recycled. America Recycles Day better informs people about the importance of recycling at home and work and buying recycled products.

Events Near You!

There are many events throughout California already registered on the official America Recycles Day website. These events provide various recycling opportunities and information through educational fairs focusing on broad interpretations of reduce, reuse, recycle and re-buy.

Visit the official America Recycles Day website for information about events near you!

Take the Pledge!

Take the America Recycles Day online pledge to find out what materials are collected for recycling in your community. Pledge to reduce your personal waste by recycling and to recycling more. Encourage one family member or one friend to take the pledge too.

Visit the America Recycles Day website to take the pledge!

Visit IWantToBeRecycled.org!

Visit IWantToBeRecycled.org to find your nearest recycling center, and learn the facts about what materials can be recycled and what they can become in their new lives.

California Native Gardens!

Create beautiful gardens that use less water!

With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record. The state has continued to lead the way to make sure California is able to cope with an unprecedented drought. Native plant gardens are one way of creating a drought-resilient yard.

Native plant gardens minimize the amount of water used by individuals and communities.

Here are 5 things to know about the drought, according to bewaterwise.com®:

  • It’s one of the worst in California’s history
  • Storage levels are dropping, preserve our reserves
  • Conservation is key in hot summer and fall
  • Limiting outdoor water use equals big savings
  • Find water-saving tips and valuable rebates at bewaterwise.com®

There are many benefits to having a drought resilient garden! You save water and money by having a native garden instead of a thirsty lawn. They are low maintenance, use little to no water, and don’t need soil preparation or fertilizing. The beautiful landscaping will also increase your homes’ curbside appeal.

Native plants attract wildlife into your yard! Drought-tolerant native plants buzz with bumblebees, butterflies and ladybugs. The native plants attract not only insects but also birds, including warblers, wrens and hummingbirds.

Below is a list of some of the top California native plants:

  • Tree Mallow (Lavatera bicolor)
  • Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)
  • Concha California Lilac (Ceanothus ‘concha’)
  • Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
  • Coral Bells or Alum Root (Heuchera)

There are thousands more to choose from. Visit bewaterwise.com® for catalogues of plants, garden ideas, rebate information and conservation tips.

Household Hazardous Waste!

Dispose of HHW properly!

Household hazardous waste, or HHW, is any discarded material that threatens public health, safety, and the environment due to its chemical nature. Throwing these materials in the trash, down storm drains, on the ground, or in the sewer system puts oceans and groundwater at risk. HHW must be recycled or safely disposed of at specific facilities or in special programs.

Here are some proper ways to dispose of HHW:

Visit the S.A.F.E. Collection Center, a FREE Permanent Drop-Off Facility

The S.A.F.E. Collection Center is located at 1400 North Gaffey St. San Pedro, CA 90021. The site is open SATURDAYS and SUNDAYS from 9:00 A.M. TO 3:00 P.M. except Holidays and rainy days. Click here to visit their website.

Go to a Los Angeles County Department of Public Works FREE one-day, periodic HHW collection event

Nearly every weekend, there is an event somewhere in L.A. County that provides a safe and convenient way to dispose and recycle household hazardous waste and electronics. The next collection event will be held at the Joint Water Pollution Control Plant in Carson on Saturday, October 18th. Click here to view the event flyer.

What you CAN bring to a Countywide HHW collection:

  • Motor oil, oil filters, brake fluid
  •  Used antifreeze
  • Paint, paint thinner, turpentine
  • Cleaners with acid or lye
  •  Pesticides or herbicides
  •  Household batteries or car batteries
  •  Pool chemicals
  •  CRTs, old TVs, misc. electronics
  •  Mercury thermometers or thermostats
  •  Used Needles or Sharps (In a Sharps container or sturdy box labeled “SHARPS”) (Click here for more information)
  •  Unwanted or expired prescriptions (Click here for more information)

What you CANNOT bring to a Countywide HHW collection:

  • Explosives
  • Ammunition
  • Radioactive Materials
  • Trash
  • Tires
  • Business Waste
  • White Goods (stoves, fridges, etc.)
  • Controlled Substances
  • Biohazardous Waste (blood, urine, etc.)

Curbside Collection Program!

Gray, Green, Black Bins… What goes where?

The City of Torrance curbside collection program makes residential trash and recycling easy. The program consists of one Black, Gray, and Green bin. What do the colors represent?

The Gray bin is for recycling of plastics, glass, and paper. Items such as aluminum cans and foil, plastic bottles and containers, cardboard, empty food boxes, egg cartons (cardboard only), glass bottles and jars, junk mail, magazines and brochures, metal coat hangers, newspapers, phonebooks, and tin cans. Do not place liquids, napkins, tissue paper and anything soiled with food into Gray bin.

  • Tip: Please rinse out containers, but be sure all liquids are drained from containers before placing in recycling bins.
  • Tip: Labels can be left on the containers. Lids can be recycled in the bin, but please take them off the containers.

The Green bin is for recycling yard waste including grass, leaves, wood chips, tree branches, sawdust, garden trimmings, green plants, and weeds. Material cannot protrude from the top of the containers more than 2 or 3 feet.

  • Tip: Recycle your Christmas trees any time in your green waste container. Cut up your Christmas tree to meet green waste collection requirements.
  • Tip: Leave your grass clippings on the lawn – it’s a good source of nitrogen and acts as a fertilizer. You can also recycle your green waste and food waste at home to create your own compost. Go to www.smartgardening.com to learn more.

The Black bin is for trash only. Trash items include food waste, soiled toiletries/food containers, cigarette butts, diapers, sponges, styrofoam, waxed paper, palm fronds, cactus, ice plant, and yucca. Do not place dirt, rock, sod, concrete, construction debris, hot ashes, liquids, electronics, and hazardous wastes into Black bin.

  • Tip: If you need additional capacity, leave the lid open and place a securely closed additional 30-gallon trash bag on top of your other waste.

Visit the City of Torrance’s Residential Curbside Collection webpage for more information.

Recycle Your Old TV!

Keep landfills toxic free!

If you recently upgraded to a big, new flat-screen, make sure you responsibly dispose of those big, boxy TV.

According to The New York Times there are more than 200 million of these TV units sitting in American homes just awaiting disposal.

All types of electronic waste present a challenge for recyclers, but CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) televisions and monitors are particularly difficult to deal with.

More than 40% of all the lead that leaks out at our landfills and contaminates our land and water comes from electronics thrown in the trash. And your old TV set alone contains up to eight pounds of lead. New legislation has ruled that all electronics are now considered a form of hazardous waste.

Because of this new designation, we can no longer include computer monitors or TV sets in the large item collection program, and no electronic materials can be disposed of with regular trash. These items must be safely disposed of or recycled.

Here are some options in the City of Torrance:

  • Attend a free Household Hazardous & Electronic Waste Collections run by the County for free recycling or safe disposal at the regular. These free periodic events occur at least once a month in the South Bay area. Click here for the schedule of upcoming collection events, or call 1-800-238-0173.  These events are for residents only, not businesses.
  • Visit S.A.F.E. Collection Center,  a free permanent drop-off facility that all Los Angeles County residents can use for recycling or safe disposal of electronics and other hazardous wastes. Location at 1400 N. Gaffey St. San Pedro. Open every Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 3 pm except holidays and rainy days. For additional information, call 1-800-98-TOXIC (1-800-988-6942) or  click here to visit their website.
  • Take your old TVs to Walser’s Art Supply, a certified drop off for electronics recycling.  They will accept materials from both residents and businesses. Please click here for their flyer for their location, drop-off times, and other restrictions. Click here to visit their website.
  • Donations are always a possibility.

For more information, visit the City of Torrance Public Works Department Electronic Recycling webpage or call (310) 781-6900.