Curbside Collections

Mark Kreis, Chief
6751 Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046

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Inclement Weather

For collection information during inclement weather, click here.

Holiday Schedule

For collection information during holidays, click here.

Yard Trim Collection - No Plastic Bags

All curbside yard trim service has made the transition to plastic bag free collection. Collection crews will not pick-up yard trim items in any type of plastic bags. Howard County reminds residents to bundle material, or use paper bags and reusable containers for yard trim collection. Many local and online retailers sell paper bags. Here is an information sheet, including retail locations that sell paper yard trim bags.

Did you know?

  • There are several private companies under contract with Howard County that pick up trash and recyclables from County homes.
  • County inspectors monitor over 78,000 homes for curbside and dumpster service, 5 days a week.
  • Collections may occur between 6am and 7pm. Please be sure to have your material out by 6am to ensure collection.
  • Trash collected from Howard County homes is transported to a landfill in Virginia.

General Information

Once a week curbside collection of recycling, yard trim and up to 4 items of trash is provided to residents living in single family homes, townhomes, most trailer parks and condominiums (apartments contract for their trash through private trash haulers). Property owners are charged a yearly REFUSE COLLECTION CHARGE of $225 per house (with yard trim collection) and $210 (without yard trim collection) on your tax bill for this service. 

The historic Ellicott City business district located on Main Street is also provided trash and recycling collection - please call 410-313-6444 for details on this specialized service.

Check Your Collection Days

Call 410-313-6444 or check out our online tool to find your collection days.

What and How Much Will be Collected

Please remember your 4's when placing trash and recyclables out for collection...

  • 4 item per week limit for TRASH. (Unlimited Recyclables)
  • Each item under 40 pounds. (No Weight Limit For Recycling Carts)
  • Each item less than 4 feet long.
  • Put out beFORE 6 a.m. (Pickup is between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.)

An item is a single bag, can or bundle. Put several small bags in one 30-gallon trash can (or a large trash bag) and it's only considered 1 item. Just remember the weight limit!

After your items are collected, we recommend removing empty trash cans and recycling carts or bins from your curb (or grouping area) on your scheduled collection day to mitigate safety and aesthetic concerns.

Tips To Reduce your Trash by 50% or More!

  • DONATE We're hard on ourselves and assume nobody wants our junk, but people love to have used items...See a donation directory for pick-up and drop-off options.
  • RECYCLE unlimited quantities of acceptable recyclables on your recycling day each week. Remember: You can put your mixed paper, plastics, metal cans, cardboard and glass bottles & jars "All Together Now" in a recycling cart, bin or see-through bag; yard trim needs to be kept separate.
  • GRASSCYCLE by leaving your grass clippings on your lawn. This process provides free fertilizer for your lawn.
  • COMPOST grass, leaves, yard trimmings and select food waste to make a high grade soil.
  • Recycle YARD TRIM at the curb and save those valuable resources from the landfill. Remember, do not use plastic bags for yard trim material.

Where to Place Items for Collection

  • Single-family homeowners must set their trash to be collected within five (5) feet of the nearest public road fronting their home.
  • Place cans, bags, carts, etc. away from mail boxes on the opposite side of the driveway, if possible.
  • Residents of townhome communities without garages are required to "group" items in designated areas accessible to the collectors such as the curb end of grass islands or at the end of parking areas. Do not block mailboxes or fire hydrants.
  • After your items are collected, we recommend removing empty trash cans and recycling carts or bins from your curb (or grouping area) on your scheduled collection day to mitigate safety and aesthetic concerns.

When Collections Will be Made

  • Items must be placed out after 6 p.m. the day before collection, or before 6 a.m. the day of collection.
  • Material is collected at each residence once a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pickup time may vary week to week so please be sure material is at the curb by 6 a.m.
  • Contractors will not return to collect material set out after the truck has serviced the area.
  • Collections missed due to road closings will be made the next day if possible.

What Containers to Use

Residents may use reusable containers or disposable bags for trash provided they meet the following criteria:

Reusable containers must be...

  • Made of metal or tough plastic and equipped with handles and watertight, well-fitting lids.
  • Maximum 40-gallon capacity. If containers are larger than 40 gallons, each bag inside is counted as one item and loose trash will not be collected.
  • Cart-type containers larger than 40 gallons should not be used for trash. Recycling carts and bins are issued by the County for recycling only – trash or yard trim will not be collected from them.
  • Kept clean and sanitary.

Note: Reusable containers may be required in townhome communities or in areas where previous sanitation problems or rodent infestations have been identified.

Disposable bags must be...

  • Heavy gauge plastic which can be picked up and carried without tearing.
  • Securely tied at the top to prevent spillage.
  • Bags used for recycling collection must be see-through. Other bags used for recycling collection will not be picked up.

Note: The clean up of trash or recycling, especially in grouping locations, that is spilled and/or spread by animals or wind is the responsibility of the residents.

Prohibited Items

  • Ashes (which can cause a fire in the collection truck)
  • Car parts - tires, wheels or batteries.
  • Cart-type containers larger than 40-gallons containing loose trash.
  • Construction & remodeling debris - bathtubs, carpet, concrete, drywall, lumber, plywood, sinks, toilets, etc.
  • Hazardous, toxic or flammable materials - asbestos, ammunition, explosives, dead animals, firearms, etc.
  • Landscaping debris - dirt, rocks, stumps, sand, sod, etc.
  • Liquids such as wet paint, cooking oil, chemicals and motor oil (which can leak onto streets).
  • Pallets
  • Rechargeable batteries - laptop, cell phone, etc.
  • Trash placed in County-provided recycling carts.
  • Trash placed in any type of recycling container (including those purchased from Home Depot, Lowes, etc).
  • Yard trim may not be put out as trash during yard trim season in areas that receive curbside yard trim collection. Yard trim season is April 1st through the third week in January.

Printable Trash Brochures

English       Spanish      Korean

What should I do with old medication?

Please DO NOT flush unwanted medications down the toilet.


  • The Howard County Police Department and HC Drug Free have unveiled three permanent medication disposal boxes in an effort to assist residents in disposing of unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications safely and anonymously. These are available daily and year-round. They are located at the Northern District Station (3410 Courthouse Drive in Ellicott City), Southern District Station (11226 Scaggsville Road in Laurel) and Gary Arthur Community Center (2400 Route 97 in Cooksville). Questions? Call 410-313-3200.
  • Place the pills in a plastic zip-top bag with coffee grounds, flour or kitty litter and put the bag in your regular trash. This makes the medicines undesirable and prevents toxins from contaminating our drinking water.
  • Local pharmacies may offer take-back or mail-in programs where a prepaid envelope is filled with unwanted medication and mailed to a disposal facility.
  • Looking outside of Howard County? Take advantage of government-sponsored programs when available. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has offered prescription drug take-back programs. Visit for information.
  • Visit for additional information and details about prescription donation sites.

Once you have safely disposed of the medication, you can recycle your empty medicine bottles.

How do I find out my curbside collection days?

We have an online tool to check your collection days. Or, you can call 410-313-6444 or email for your recycling, yard trim and trash collection days.

What should I do with plastic bags?

The best way to recycle your bags/film is to take them to a grocery or retail store. Most local grocery stores, and retail stores, such as IKEA, Wal-Mart and Target, have collection containers for plastic bags and film. This option ensures that the items stay clean and dry and can be recycled.

Why shouldn't I put bags in my curbside bin?

Loose bags, and even bundled bags, can get wrapped around recycling equipment and jam the screens at the processor. Plastic bags can do A LOT of damage to the curbside recycling processor equipment. TIP: Reduce the amount of plastic bags you have by using reusable bags.

Do the grocery and retail stores actually recycle the plastic bags?

Yes! Many collection locations are contracted with companies that specialize in recycling plastic bags and film to make plastic 'wood' decking. Their processing equipment is specifically designed for plastic bags and film, which helps to ensure that the bags stay clean and dry.

What items are included in plastic bags and film?

  • Grocery/retail bags
  • Mattress/furniture covers
  • Newspaper bags
  • Bread bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Plastic wrap from toilet paper rolls, napkins, paper towels, bottles of water, etc.
  • Produce bags
  • Frozen vegetable bags
  • Food storage bags (please be sure these are empty and lightly rinsed if needed)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Air filled bags for packaging
  • Any other clean, dry bags/film

Not sure if your bag or film can be recycled in your bag-of-bags? Do the stretch test! If you can stretch the plastic film/bag pretty easily, it can be recycled at your local store. If the plastic is crinkly or does not easily stretch, it should go in the trash. The plastic wrap from CD cases is a good example of crinkly, non-stretchable plastic that should be trashed.

Help! Something of value ended up in my trash-recycling. How can I get it back?

Unfortunately, once items are in the back of the trash, recycling or yard trim truck, it's very difficult to retrieve them. Please take extra precautions to guarantee that items of value do not accidentally get placed with your trash or recycling.

Is Styrofoam™ recyclable in Howard County?

At this time, we ONLY accept Styrofoam™ #6 at the Alpha Ridge Landfill Convenience Center. Do not add Styrofoam to your curbside recycling. There is a limited market for the material and the processor that accepts our recyclables does not accept Styrofoam™. We've also compiled a list of organizations that reuse or recycle Styrofoam™ cups, packaging and peanuts. Please see our What Should I Do With...? webpage for details. Note: We understand that this can be confusing because most Styrofoam™ has the recycling symbol. Please remember that the symbol and number is a resin identification code and doesn't mean that the item can be recycled.

Can I swap for a smaller or larger recycling cart or bin?

Yes. Call 410-313-6444 to exchange your container for a different size. Please leave your bin/cart out and available until the exchange is made. If you live in a townhome community, please leave your bin/cart by your house for exchange and not in a grouping area. Residents do not need to be home for the swap.

I set something at my curb that wasn't meant for trash or recycling. Why did the trash or recycling truck pick it up?

The trucks for residential trash and recycling will clear the curb of material. If something is at the curb or grouping area, they assume it is to be picked up for trash or recycling. If you need to set out items for charity or other pickups, please make arrangements for a pickup spot other than your normal trash/recycling pickup area. This will ensure items end up where they were intended.

How can I get rid of paint?

Hold a paint swap with neighbors and friends so that usable paint doesn't go to waste. Mix white (or colored) paints together to give your walls or furniture a fresh look. Solidify old and unusable paint by adding an absorbent material such as cat litter, shredded newspaper, leaves, sawdust, or dirt. If there isn't much paint left in the can, leave the lid off to air dry. Once solidified, the paint can be disposed with your normal household trash, but remember the 40 pound limit for trash containers. Paint can also be brought to Alpha Ridge Landfill during a HHW drop-off day or you can contact Yuck Old Paint and ask for a pickup.

Bulk Items and Scrap Metal

Bulk items (such as large appliances, mattresses, or large pieces of furniture) and scrap metal must be scheduled. Please call 410-313-6444 or visit our Bulk Item Collection webpage.

Drop-Off Location

You can drop off trash, recycling and yard trim at our Alpha Ridge Convenience Center.

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.