COVID-19 Updates: The Bureau of Environmental Services office is currently closed to the public. The Alpha Ridge Landfill is open with modified operations.

This page is monitored daily. Last update: 8/7/20

Is that recyclable? Trash? Household Hazardous Waste?

Milk cartons? Plastic bags? Cooking oil?

Do you Know Before You Throw? Test your skills! Click and move the items to the correct place in our updated game to see what actually goes in your recycling bin. Learn about the other outlets we have to reduce, reuse and recycle your stuff.

kbyt game



Print your certificate and bring it to our office (9801 Broken Land Parkway) to receive a FREE indoor recycling collection container (Limit one per household, while supplies last).





COVID-19 Update: While offices remain closed to the public, we are unable to accept certificates or distribute indoor recycling containers at this time. 


Curbside Collections Guide

General Information

  • Recyclingyard trim and trash is collected once a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pickup time may vary  
  • Items must be placed out after 6 p.m. the day before collection or before 6 a.m. the day of collection. Check your collection days.
  • 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.
  • Residents putting out items for donation (Purple Heart, Freecycle, etc.) should be sure to clearly mark those items and keep them close to the house to avoid accidental collection.
  • 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.
  • Property owners are charged a yearly REFUSE COLLECTION CHARGE of $325 per house (with yard trim collection) and $310 (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
New ResidentsNew Resident?

Download our New Residents Packet for all information related to curbside collections and Alpha Ridge Landfill.





Trash Collection

Before disposal, explore our reuse, recycle and donation options first.

Collection Rules

  • Trash is collected once a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pickup time may vary. Find your collection day here.
  • Up to four (4) cans, bags or bundles will be collected weekly on your trash day. Each item must weigh less than 40 pounds. Bundles must be less than 4' in length and 18" in diameter.
  • Reusable containers must be made of metal or tough plastic, equipped with handles and watertight, well-fitting lids. County-provided recycling containers cannot be used.
  • If the container is larger than 40 gallons, each bag inside is counted as one item.
  • Disposable trash bags must be heavy gauge plastic that can be picked up and carried without tearing. Securely tie the top to prevent spillage.
  • The clean-up of trash or recycling, especially in grouping areas, that is spilled and/or spread by animals or wind is the responsibility of the residents.
  • Residents putting out items for donation (Purple Heart, Freecycle, etc.) should be sure to clearly mark those items and keep them close to the house to avoid accidental collection.


NO we can't collect:

  • Car parts: tires, wheels, batteries, etc.
  • Construction debris: concrete, drywall, lumber, carpet, fencing, cabinets, appliances, etc.
  • Containers larger than 40-gallon containing loose trash will not be serviced
  • Electronics including laptops, computer monitors, TVs, motorized toys, chairs with electric plugs, etc.
  • Hazardous, toxic or flammable materials: asbestos, ammunition, explosives, compressed gas tanks, dead animals, firearms, medical waste, etc.
  • Landscape debris: dirt, rocks, stumps, sod, etc.
  • Liquids such as paint, cooking oil, chemicals and motor oil. Other liquids are prohibited.
  • Mirrors/plate glass
  • Paint cans (unless completely empty or dried with the lid off)
  • Rechargeable batteries


Yard Trim Collection
Curbside yard trim collection is provided to most homes in Howard County and runs from April 1 through mid-January. Check to see if you receive yard trim collection.
During curbside yard trim season, Howard County will collect yard trim items ONLY on your schedule yard trim collection day. These items will not be picked up on your trash collection day. Curbside recycling and yard trim collection occur on the same day, however, there are separate trucks that can come anytime between 6:00am to 7:00pm.
When curbside yard trim collection is not offered, we encourage residents to take yard trim to the Alpha Ridge Landfill Wood Waste Area for recycling. As a last option, residents can place yard trim material out for collection on their trash day. Please note that yard trim set out on trash day will be taken to a landfill and will not be recycled into compost and mulch.


Do your neighbors have green bin? Certain areas receive year-round curbside food scrap and yard trim collection through our Feed The Green Bin program. See if you're in our collection area and sign up today.

Collection Rules

  • Use reusable open-top containers or paper bags.
  • Yard Trim is collected once a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pickup time may vary. Find your collection day here.
  • Tie brush and branches using string or twin. Bundles may not exceed 18" in diameter, 4' in length.
  • Yard trim will not be collected as trash during yard trim collection season in areas that receive curbside yard trim collections.
  • Cans, containers, paper bags and bundles must weigh less than 40 pounds.
  • Yard trim in plastic bags will not be collected.


YES we will collect: 

  • Bamboo
  • Brush/weeds
  • Grass
  • Hedge clippings/light brush
  • Leaves
  • Seed pods (pine cones, sour gum balls, etc.)
  • Small limbs or branches less than 4" in diameter and 4' in length


NO we can't collect:

  • Bushes with root bases attached
  • Logs over 4" in diameter or 4' in length
  • Stumps
  • Yard trim mixed with trash or other materials
  • Yard trim placed in plastic bags, recycling carts or wheelbarrows

Other Yard Trim Options


Merry Mulch

Recycle your holiday tree! Your participation in the Merry Mulch program helps keep thousands of trees out of the landfill. Residents with curbside yard trim collection can place their trees out for pickup on their collection day. If curbside yard trim collection is not available, trees may be taken to any Merry Mulch drop-off in the County. For more information, please visit our Merry Mulch page.



Leave grass clippings on your lawn to return nutrients to the soil and improve lawn quality. Grasscycling will not cause thatch, damage your lawn or spread disease; in fact, lawn care professionals recommend grasscycling for a greener, healthier lawn! Grasscycling also helps our streams and even the Chesapeake Bay! See GrassCycling for more information.


Backyard Composting

Mix leaves, grass clippings and vegetable refuse together and watch the natural decomposition process turn waste into black gold. Call 410-313-6444 for a free composting instruction kit (compost bins available while supplies last). Compost demonstrations are offered April - October.  Visit our Backyard Composting webpage for more information.


Rake & Take Program

Rakers (residents who rake and bag their leaves/grass) are matched with TAKERS (people who want leaves/grass for compost piles). Leaves provide a carbon amendment to compost piles and if left on your gardens, will break down to give you a rich, healthy soil. For more, see the Rake and Take Flier or visit the Master Gardeners' website.


Drop-off at the Alpha Ridge Landfill

You can recycle grass, leaves and brush at the Alpha Ridge Wood Waste Drop-off Area, Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Proof of Howard County residency required. Plastic bags are NOT accepted at the Wood Waste Drop-off Area.

Recycling Collection

Howard County provides residents with one free recycling container. Containers are assigned to each address and must remain at the house, even if the resident moves. Residents may put their street name and number on the container which will help it stay where it belongs. County-provided recycling carts are for recycling only NO yard trim or trash will be collected in these carts.

There are three options for containers:


recycling cart dimensions

Cracked cart or missing wheel? Want to exchange for a larger/smaller size? Call or email our office for assistance. Please be sure to include name, address and phone number for all requests by email.


Additional Containers

Howard County residents who receive County trash and recycling curbside collection service are eligible to purchase additional recycling containers for their homes. Residents must be paying the Howard County residential refuse fee to purchase containers. We are no longer able to sell carts and bins to residents who receive private collection. 

18 gallon - $10.00 each
35 gallon - $40.00 each
65 gallon - $50.00 each

 See more details on the following form.

Collection Rulesno plastic bags

  • Use a County-provided blue recycling cart, bin or paper bag (do not use plastic bags for recyclables). Other reusable containers may be used as long as they are not also used as trash cans.
  • Recycling is collected once a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pickup time may vary. Find your