COVID-19 Updates

The Bureau of Environmental Services office is currently closed to the public.

The Alpha Ridge Landfill is open with modified operations.


Face coverings are required. Please continue to practice social distancing (6 ft)
Organic material sales resume. Credit card ONLY (no cash, check or debit)


This page is monitored and updated daily. Last update 8/30/20.

feed the green bin

Feed the Green Bin

food scrap picture

Recycle in the Blue, Compost in the Green and Minimize your Trash!

According to a Howard County study, almost 30% of what we send to the landfill could be composted and turned into a valuable product! Our Feed The Green Bin collection is an optional program that allows residents to help divert this waste.


Did you know? Howard County was the first in the Mid Atlantic to start collecting food scraps and yard trim together for composting. Our first "mini pilot" was launched in 2010, and after review, a pilot program was offered to a 5,000 household collection route in Ellicott City and Elkridge. The pilot was well-received, with roughly 1,750 households signed up to participate. Since the pilot, over 14,000 residents have decided to join in this amazing program! Our Feed the Green Bin program is now available in 6 collection routes. Once we have additional composting capacity we will be able to add even more collection routes.

Collection Area

Do your neighbors have a green bin? We might already be in your area! See if you’re in our collection area and sign up today.

Food Scrap Collection Area


Not in our collection area?

  1.  Make sure you added your address to our sign-up link above so we can keep track of residents interested in expansion.
  2. You can pick-up a free backyard compost bin and help to divert those food scraps. Learn more.
  3. Drop off food scraps to the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill.

Getting Started

Step 1: Choose your size.

We offer 3 sizes of green carts: a 12-gallon, 35-gallon and 65-gallon cart. If your household is small and/or doesn't generate many food scraps, the 12-gallon is probably the best size for you. If you have a larger household, generate more food scraps, and/or plan to add yard trim to your green cart, the larger 35 or 65-gallon cart is best. Please remember these carts should primarily be used for food scraps, but yard trim material can be added as a supplement as well.

Step 2: Collect kitchen scraps

We offer a small lidded countertop container to collect your kitchen scraps. These containers are for indoor use only and should NOT be set out for collection. Residents in our program may pick one up at our office (9801 Broken Land Parkway). Paper bags and certified compostable bags can also be used for food scraps. No plastic bags will be accepted.

Step 3: Set out for collection

Your cart will be emptied weekly by the yard trim truck. Be sure to place items at the curb before 6am on your collection day. Indoor containers should not be placed at the curb.

Collection is year-round, so continue to set out material even in the winter!

Food scraps and yard trim are turned into compost (a valuable soil amendment) at Alpha Ridge Landfill. HoCoGro compost, mulch and topsoil are available for purchase. Visit our page for pricing and other information.

Accepted Items

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps (fresh or cooked)
  • Pumpkins and gourds
  • Grass, leaves, yard trim
  • Bread, pasta, rice, grains, cereal, baked goods, etc.
  • Meat, fish, shellfish (including bones)
  • Dairy products (cheese, butter, ice cream, etc.)
  • Nuts, beans, seeds (including shells/hulls)
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds and filters (no foil or foil-backed products) 
  • Tea bags (must meet ASTM D6400 or BPI standards for compostability)
  • Paper towels & napkins (free of chemicals & cleaning products)
  • Compostable cups, plates and bowls (must meet ASTM D6400 or BPI standards for compostability)
  • Pizza boxes (remove non-food items)
  • Houseplants, cut flowers (please no dirt)
  • Chopsticks and popsicle sticks

Unaccepted Items

  • Fats, oils, grease (small amounts are OK)
  • Ice cream containers
  • Facial tissues
  • Styrofoam
  • Pet waste
  • Diapers
  • Japanese Stiltgrass


  • Reduces household trash. Food scraps are a large part of what people throw away (almost 30%).
  • Reduces greenhouse gases - food scraps in the landfill create methane (a powerful greenhouse gas that must be controlled/treated) as they decompose.
  • Reduces the need for garbage disposals. By using garbage disposals to get rid of unwanted food, excess nutrients are sent to treatment plants. They are costly to process and remove (about 10 times more expensive than curbside collection and processing).
  • Creates a useful product – compost is a great soil amendment that returns nutrients to gardens and produces healthy plants.
  • Saves money. Removing food scraps from trash reduces trash sent tot he landfill (as much as 30%!) and therefore money spent on disposal.
  • Keeps the food scraps local. Food scraps are processed locally at our Composting Facility at Alpha Ridge Landfill into a soil amendment which is available for sale in bulk.
  • Provides public awareness. Food scraps are a significant part of household waste (almost 30%) that shouldn't be wasted in the landfill.
  • Promotes opportunities for local business growth which may enable food scrap collection to be expanded throughout the region.

Need Help?



Printable chart of what's acceptedFeed The Green Bin brochure


Check your collection days Collection Look-up Tool.



Introduction to Food Scraps
Indoor Containers to Use
Indoor Collection Tips
Outdoor Tips
Green Cart Basics
Backyard Composting

Questions? Call 410-313-6444 or email


Where can I buy compostable bags?

You are not required to use bags, but if you prefer to, please make sure the bags contain the BPI logo. The BPI logos means they are compostable and they have been tested and proven to breakdown (DO NOT use regular plastic bags). 
Please see the list below of retailers that have sold certified compostable bags. This list is subject to change and does not indicate whether compostable bags are in stock. Please verify with individual stores.
  • Wegmans (8855 McGaw Rd)
  • Wal-Mart (6405 Dobbin Rd)
  • Safeway (5485 Harpers Farm Rd)
  • Harris Teeter (Village Center, 8620 Guilford Rd)
  • Whole Foods (10275 Little Patuxent Pkwy)
  • Roots Market (5805 Clarkskville Square Dr)
  • Kendall's Hardware (12260 Clarksville Pike)