Feed The Green Bin

This program collects the same types of material you have always set at the curb!

Participants receive a special food scrap/yard trim cart that is emptied weekly via year-round collection on your recycling day.

SIGN UP or see if you are in the collection area.


According to a recent Howard County study, almost 30% of what we send to the landfill could be composted and turned into a valuable product!

So what can you do?

Households in certain areas can participate in the Feed The Green Bin program. 

Participants receive a special food scrap/yard trim cart that is emptied weekly, year-round! 

There are 3 sizes available so you pick the right container for your household.


  • 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 the 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.

Accepted Items

Even easier! Residents can now include meat, fats and dairy in their green carts! New policy change as of October 2016.

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps (fresh or cooked)
  • Grass, leaves, yard trim
  • Bread, pasta, rice, grains, cereal, baked goods, etc.
  • Meat, fish, shellfish (including bones)
  • Dairy products (cheese, butter, ice cream, etc.)
  • Fats, oils, grease
  • Nuts, beans, seeds (including shells/hulls)
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds, filters, tea bags (no foil or foil-backed products)
  • Paper products (paper towels, napkins, paper plates)
  • Pizza boxes (remove non-food items)
  • Houseplants, cut flowers (please no dirt)
  • Chopsticks and popsicle sticks

Unaccepted Items

  • Ice cream containers
  • Facial tissues
  • Styrofoam
  • Pet waste
  • Diapers

Help Videos

Click on the links below to watch

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

Need Help?

Questions? Call 410-313-6444 or email help@howardcountyrecycles.org

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add all of my newspapers to the green bin?

    While a few sheets of newspaper can be used to wrap wet food scraps or line the bottom of the cart to absorb moisture, please place your everyday newspapers in the BLUE recycling bin where they can be turned into new paper products.

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). Many local retailers including Giant, Roots, My Organic Market, Whole Foods, Kendalls Hardware, Home Depot, and Target carry the bags. They are also available online from many different websites.

Why collect food scraps separately?

    To reduce waste and save money on disposal costs. Howard County residents could reduce trash sent to the landfill by 30%, simply by composting their food scraps. Food scraps and yard trim that is collected will be composted and turned into a soil amendment.

What will the cart look like and how big is it?

    Residents can choose from 3 green carts: a 12 gallon cart, a 35 gallon cart or a 65 gallon cart. Remember, you can add yard trim to the green carts too!

How often is the cart emptied?

    The cart will be emptied on your recycling day by the same truck that collects yard trim. No additional collection trucks are needed!

My household doesn’t generate many food scraps. Should I still participate?

    Yes! You can make a difference, no matter how big (or small!) your household. Composting even small amounts of food scraps reduces trash. Unexpected items such as herbs/spices, cereal, corn cobs/husks, cookies and paper egg cartons can be included.

Will green bin collection smell?

    Please keep in mind you will be setting out the same material for collection; it will just be in a different container. 

    You can easily incorporate paper bags, pizza boxes, grass, leaves or baking soda to absorb liquids and reduce any smells. Rinsing and cleaning the cart may also help.

What if I rely on my garbage disposal?

    Using a garbage disposal can lead to clogs and backups in your pipes. Disposals also send nutrients that are expensive to treat to the water reclamation facility. Composting food scraps in your backyard or using the green bin for collection are better options. Watch Bill Nye's quick video about garbage disposal use.

Will the 40-pound weight limit apply to my food scrap cart?

    No, not for the county-issued cart. Additional containers should weigh less than 40 pounds.

What should I use to collect food scraps indoors?

    A large tub or plastic container is all you need, but if you prefer a food scrap specific container, check online or your local stores. You may also use compostable bags (with the BPI logo) or paper bags. Do not use plastic bags because they don't break down with the material. You can also make an easy indoor bin liner out of newspaper.

How do I learn more about the new Alpha Ridge Landfill pilot compost facility?

Additional Green Carts

If you're in the collection area and want another green cart, here's the form to purchase additional carts. Please remember that green carts are to be used for food scraps and yard trim ONLY.


Report from the mini food scrap collection pilot in Howard County.

Food scrap pictures from the mini pilot.

See us on the news!