Alan Wilcom, Chief          
6751 Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia, MD 21046


Questions? Email or call 410-313-6444


BARCS Needs Cardboard Boxes

What's better than recycling? REUSE! BARCS is desperately in need of cardboard boxes to use as litter boxes for their kitties. Boxes can be brought to BARCS Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can even bring them earlier or later and leave them outside the shelter doors.  See for more details.


It's Here! Our New Printable Graphic









Are You Recycling Right?

Test your knowledge and earn a FREE gift!




Curbside Recycling


Here is a list of common items that can go in your curbside recycling containers. Click on and print the brochure to the left or visit our Curbside Recycling webpage.



Recycling at the ARL Residents' Convenience Center


Click on the brochure to the left of visit our What's Accepted webpage. The Alpha Ridge Landfill is located at 2350 Marriottsville Road, Marriottsville, MD and is open Monday-Saturday from 8am to 4pm for Howard County residents (just show your driver's license).



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Know Before You Throw

Visit our Know Before You Throw webpage for a list of items and what you should do with them. Does it go in your blue bin? Should it be taken to Alpha Ridge? Is there a retail take-back program? Is reuse best? Check it out!

Howard County provides ONE FREE recycling container to residents that receive curbside collection from the County. Containers are assigned to each address and MUST REMAIN AT THE HOUSE, even if the resident moves. You can put your street name and number on the container which will help it stay where it belongs. There are three options for containers: a 65-gallon cart, a 35-gallon cart or an 18-gallon bin.


           65-gallon cart                 35-gallon cart            18-gallon bin


Need a Container? Is it Broken? Want a Different Size?

The County can deliver a new cart or different size. We also fix broken cart wheels and lids. Contact the Recycling Division at 410-313-6444. Please be patient as we work to complete requests. Lost or stolen County-issued recycling container? Call us and we will replace it. Remember you can put your street name and number on the cart which will help it stay where it belongs.

Check Your Collection Days

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

General Tips

  • Delivered recycling containers are County property and MUST STAY AT THE ASSIGNED ADDRESS. Even if you're moving within Howard County, the blue container should be left behind.
  • Use a blue cart, bin or see-through bag (do not use black bags for recyclables, they won't be picked up). You do not need to use the County-provided blue containers, another reusable container of your choice is fine, but please don't use trash cans as collectors will think you set out trash and won't pick it up.
  • Recyclables can be placed "ALL TOGETHER" in the same container.
  • You don't need to remove lids, caps, labels or rings, but please empty containers and rinse lightly, if needed.
  • You can set-out unlimited recycling on your collection day!
  • It's best if recyclables are loose in your recycling container. Why? Bags create an extra step at the processor and can jam the equipment if not removed from the line. 
  • 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.
  • NO yard trim or trash in County-issued recycling carts and bins.

Holiday Schedule

There are 6 main holidays that may affect your curbside collections: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Trash, recycling and yard trim collections scheduled on or after these 6 holidays ONLY will 'slide' and be made one day later that week. No other holidays will be affected. Please remember, all items to be collected must be out by 6 a.m. on the day of collection. Print the 2018 holiday slide schedule

Additional Recycling 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.

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Call 410-313-6444 or email




Printable Material




             HHW brochure            Recycling chart   Recycling Sign     
Yard Trim Brochure      Trash Brochure      Compost Guide       
Spanish Recycling Guide       Spanish Trash Brochure      Korean Recycling Guide       Korean Trash Brochure       







Waste Management Recycle America
(recycling processor)

    You may think you know
....but do you? 

    My Favorite Bin!
(recycling commercial)



Coloring Books



Print these coloring books created by Howard County 3rd-5th graders! If you would like a copy of the 2017 book, please stop by our office at 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 514.





Presentations and Tours


WMRA Elkridge Recycling Processor

Alpha Ridge Landfill Tour

Pilot Compost Facility at Alpha Ridge Landfill

  • Schedule a recycling presentation. A Recycling Coordinator will discuss the ins and outs of recycling, as well as provide an inside look at what happens to all those things we recycle. Here's the video if you'd like to check it out! Call 410-313-6444 to schedule or fill out this form.

    For schools, we offer assembly style presentations, grade-by-grade presentations and short 5-minute cafeteria presentations to get the students thinking about what they have in their lunches that can be recycled everyday. The most efficient setup for schools is 2 assembly-style presentations with follow-up lunchroom presentations to jump start the recycling program and get everyone on board.

    Tour the Waste Management Recycle America located at 7175 Kit Kat Road in Elkridge. Please note this tour is only available for adults 18 and older. This tour lasts about an hour. Tours are scheduled as requested and must be groups of at least 6, with a maximum of 12. If you are not able to form a group, you can be added to an existing tour. Call 410-313-6444 for a tour schedule.

    Schedule a tour of Alpha Ridge Landfill. A Recycling Coordinator will guide your group around Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents' Convenience Area to discuss what is collected and what happens to all those items. Many things are reused or recycled, but trash is collected too. The group may also tour the Compost Demo Area and Transfer Building. This tour is great for scout groups trying to earn badges/patches. Did you know most of Howard County's trash is exported to a landfill in VA? Call 410-313-6444 to schedule.

    Howard County has constructed a pilot project to produce quality compost. More information about this new facility can be found on the Pilot Compost facility webpage.


Recycling/Fundraising Ideas


More school and kids' resources


The State of Maryland mandated that weekly recycling services be provided by all apartment and condominium properties with 10 or more units (learn more about the regulation here and here). Managers or other responsible parties for properties located in Howard County must submit Recycling Plans to Howard County’s Recycling Division. Plans will be reviewed for completeness and adequacy, amended (where necessary) and then approved by the County. Recycling Plans must be completed by ALL properties covered under this law. If the property changes hands, the new owner (or their representative) must complete a new Recycling Plan and submit it to the Recycling Division as soon as possible upon taking ownership of the property.

Recycling Plans

To help prepare your plan, here is a Recycling Plan form.

If you are the responsible party for a condominium property that wishes to receive recycling collection from Howard County’s Bureau of Environmental Services, please call Mark Kreis, Chief, Collections Division at 410-313-6444.

Report Your Recycling!

Completion of the annual report form is mandatory for all apartments and condos that are required to provide recycling. For questions or concerns, please contact Kimberly Reichart at (410) 313-6442 or

Ideas For Outreach

Here are some sample signs and stickers that can be used to educate and inform residents about recycling. You may have a variety of cultures and languages in your complex so remember to take that into account. Pictures and graphics are great and simple is better! Be sure to talk with your hauler about what is acceptable for recycling as programs can vary. They may also have education material to get everyone on board.

    Recycling chart   recycling only sign   recycling only sign spanish   single stream sticker

If you would like to check out our brochures for additional ideas, please visit

Tips For Success

To encourage residents to recycle, make it easy! Place a recycling bin next to each trash can, making sure to clearly label each container.


We realize this process may be new to you so please call us for help! If you have questions or need more information about this requirement, please contact Kim Reichart, Recycling Coordinator at 410-313-6444 or

Businesses play an important role in the success of any community's recycling programs and initiatives. Every type of business, from offices to restaurants to car washes and sport complexes, create materials that can be recycled. 

We want to hear from YOU!

How green is your business? Does your company buy recycled content, use renewable energy or conduct waste audits? Let us know!

Results from our 1st Annual Awards Program

At Howard County’s 11th annual GreenFest on Saturday, April 21, the County’s Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Environmental Services announced the winners of its inaugural “Business Recycling and Waste Reduction” and “Green Community Leadership” awards program.

The Business Recycling and Waste Reduction award recognizes Howard County businesses for their recycling and waste reduction efforts, the winners were:

    • BA Auto Care – BA Auto Care developed a technique to capture the motor oil that typically clings to the side of oil bottles, significantly reducing the amount of oil discarded as trash.
    • DSM Nutritional Products – DSM Nutritional Products employees started an office food scrap collection program. Employees collect roughly 25 pounds of food scraps a week, which is turned into compost.
    • Howard County Conservancy – The Howard County Conservancy developed an initiative to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in its waste stream. At its events, the Conservancy eliminated the use of single-use plastics and now encourages outside organizations using the facility to use of reusable items versus disposable items.
    • Taylor Service Company – This energy efficient company has adopted a variety of strategies to provide recycling and reuse opportunities for its employees and building tenants. Taylor Service Company donates reusable building materials to local nonprofits and allows Howard County’s Fire and Police departments use of its buildings for training purposes.

The Green Community Leadership Award recognizes groups and organizations that demonstrate efforts, projects or programs that help protect Howard County’s natural environment and preserve its resources. This year’s winners of the Green Community Leadership Award were:

    • Emmanuel United Methodist Church – With the help of its “Green Team,” Emmanuel United Methodist Church is constantly thinking about the environmental impact of its programs. The Church provides its members with special recycling opportunities, has eliminated its use of disposable food service ware and has conducted energy audits of its building, as well as facilitates audits for its members. The church is also entirely powered by wind sourced energy.
    • Howard EcoWorks – In 2017, Howard EcoWorks launched its “Ellicott City – Soak It Up” campaign. Geared toward encouraging individual action for stormwater reduction on private property in the Tiber Hudson watershed, the goal of the campaign is to convert 700 acres of turf grass to native landscape to improve stormwater. The program educates the public about sustainability, natural infrastructure and community resiliency.
    • Roger Carter Community Center – The Roger Carter Community Center approaches its LEED Silver certification as a launching point for other environmentally conscious programs. The Center regularly hosts community cleanups, provides a variety of recycling opportunities to the public, maintains a composting program and has conducted internal waste audits to find additional opportunities for improvements.

Award winners received handmade awards crafted by a local sculptor, using recycled metal components, as well as a signed certificate from Kittleman. “Business Recycling and Waste Reduction” award winners will also become certified through the County’s Work Green Howard program.

Are you a certified Work Green Howard business?
You can be!

Maryland Recycling Act (MRA)

    Howard County is required annually by Maryland Department of the Environment to report recycling activities taking place within the County. If you generated or processed recyclables in Howard County in the previous year, please visit our MRA webpage for more information about reporting and becoming Work Green Howard certified.

Getting Started

Contact Person or Team: Make sure you have an individual or team to coordinate the recycling program. They will be the point of contact for questions about the program.

Types of Waste: Identify the types of recyclable items your business produces - is it mostly cardboard? Paper? Bottles? Cans? How much trash does your workplace dispose of each week & how much of that is recyclable? Consider factors such as container size & collection frequency that will best meet your needs. Don't forget that there are many items that can be recycled, but may not be collected curbside.

Containers: Select new containers (or retrofit existing containers) to separate trash and recycling items for indoor collection. Many different shapes and styles are available through various retail and online sources. For the greatest success, place a recycling bin next to each trash can, making sure to clearly label each container. Common collection points include kitchens, copy rooms and conference rooms.

Plan for Collection: Contact local recycling collection contractors (see below) and establish which one has the best program for your needs & budget. Make sure you clearly understand what the contractor can and cannot accept. Programs may have slight variations.

Location, Location, Location: Select the location for your outdoor recycling pickup container. Make sure it is clearly marked for recyclable materials only; you want to make sure that trash is kept in a separate container.

Inform: Educate employees, patrons and contractors about your recycling program; make sure recycling containers are properly and boldly labeled. Don't forget - anyone that will be handling the recyclable materials, including the cleaning staff, should be educated about your new program. Educated employees are the key to program success!

Measure: Conduct a waste audit to determine areas of improvement. Take a look in the recycling containers and trash cans; Do you see recyclables in the trash? Trash in the recycling containers? If so, make sure recycling containers are paired with trashcans, are clearly labeled and are centrally located. Contact the County recycling division for additional technical support or to set-up a brief recycling presentation for employees.

Maintain: Monitor your program for participation and quality, create contests or incentives to recycle and publicize successes to maintain enthusiasm for the program. Remember: more recycling means less trash and lower trash disposal costs for your business.

Collection Options

Businesses may find it cost effective and efficient to contract with a waste disposal company that handles trash and recycling. In many cases, recycling can be a way to save money on trash disposal costs. Here are some local contractors.

Small businesses can also drop off recyclables at the Alpha Ridge Landfill, 2350 Marriottsville Rd, Marriottsville, 21104. Businesses no longer need a permit to drop off recycling, but material must be generated within Howard County.

Easy Tips For Any Business

Practice Waste Prevention

  • Visit our What Should I Do With...? website
  • Buy only what the business needs
  • Shop for items with minimal packaging
  • Buy quality items that will last
  • Think before you print. If you must print, print double-sided
  • Donate unwanted items
  • Opt out of junk mail

Close The Loop!

    All of those recyclables you put in the recycling container need a market. Encourage your purchasing department to buy supplies that are made from recycled materials. Prices for items made from recycled material are usually very close, if not cheaper, than items made from virgin materials.

Only Shred When Needed

    Shredding paper cuts the paper fibers so that the paper cannot be recycled as many times. Only shred those documents that contain personal/confidential information and truly require shredding. This saves the paper fibers and saves you time at the shredder. Please remember that shredded paper must be bagged or boxed before placed in the recycling container.

Reduce Your Junk Mail

    Still receiving mail for employees that no longer work for the company? Visit for more information about a free service to stop receiving previous employees' mail.

Moving? Expanding? Renovating?

Food Scrap Recycling

EPA Resources

    WasteWise Program Businesses, local governments, and non-profit organizations of all sizes and from all industry sectors can join WasteWise. WasteWise targets the reduction of municipal solid waste and select industrial wastes, including office paper, corrugated containers, yard trimmings and wood pallets. For more information, visit EPA's WasteWise website.

    Rethink: Sustainable materials management – the use and reuse of materials in the most productive and sustainable way across their entire life cycle. For more information, visit the EPA’s Rethink website.

Maryland Green Registry

    Help build a smarter, greener, more sustainable Maryland by putting these practices to work right in your organization. The Maryland Green Registry is a voluntary, self-certification program offering tips and resources to help organizations set and meet their own goals on the path to sustainability. Visit for more information.


    Contact the recycling division at 410-313-6444 or with any questions or requests for assistance with your recycling program.

Note: Howard County does not endorse products, services or vendors.

Starting October 1, 2015, organizations that hold events that serve food and drink may have to comply with the new State and County law requiring that recycling services be provided.

Specifically this law will apply to any event that:

    • (I) Includes temporary or periodic use of a public street, publicly owned site or facility, or public park;
    • (ii) Serves food or drink; and
    • (iii) Is expected to have 200 or more persons in attendance

If the event requires a Howard County Police Permit for use of a public road and meets the three guidelines from above, the applicant will be made aware of the requirement at the time of permit issuance. County staff will contact the event organizer in writing and specify the following duties and responsibilities of the parties under the current law:

If the event does not require a Police Permit but still makes use of a public facility, serves food and drink and expects over 200 guests, the law still applies. Event organizers must comply with the law even if they have not received a notice from the County. Please notify Environmental Services of your event as soon as a date had been selected.

Organizers of all regulated events must:

    • (i) Provide a recycling receptacle immediately adjacent to each trash receptacle at the special event;
    • (ii) Ensure that all recycling receptacles are clearly distinguished from trash receptacles by color or signage; and
    • (iii) Ensure that all recyclable materials, such as glass, paper, cardboard, metal and plastic containers, deposited into recycling receptacles at the special event are collected and recycled.

Recycling can be provided through hiring a local hauler or by self-hauling recyclables to the Alpha Ridge Landfill (ARL) located in Marriottsville MD. Event coordinators can bring unlimited recycling to ARL as long as the person bringing the material to the landfill is a County resident. Please remember that recyclables must be taken to a recycling facility.

Food Scrap Composting

Food scraps should be recycled to the extent feasible based on the availability of food scrap recycling services. Event coordinators can also bring food scraps to the Alpha Ridge Landfill for composting! Look for the green cart in the Residents' Convenience Center. 


At the County’s discretion and within 30 days after the event, the organizer must report the amount of trash and recyclables collected at the event; and state ways to improve the amount recycled at future events. Amounts can be reported in weight or volume.

The County may inspect the recycling efforts at each event. Events that do not follow the requirements listed above are in violation of County and State law and may be subject to civil penalty of $300.00 for each day on which the violation exists.

Fill out an event contact form before any regulated event.

If your event had 1,000 attendees or more, an Event Recycling Reporting Form must be completed and returned to Howard County within 30 days of the event.


If you have questions about the law, please contact Kim Reichart, Recycling Coordinator at

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Should I use paperless billing?

According to, if 20% of American households switched from paper to electronic bills, statements and payments each year, the collective impact would:

  • Save 150,939,615 pounds of paper
  • Save 1,811,275 trees
  • Avoid producing almost 2 million tons of greenhouse gases
  • Avoid creating over a billion gallons of waste-water during paper production
  • Avoid using over 100 million gallons of gas to mail payments
  • To see the impact your household could have, check out this online calculator. For more information and benefits of paperless billing, check out this article from

    Contact your current service providers and ask to start paperless billing today!

    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.

    When does the County offer shredding events?

    There are typically two County-sponsored shredding events each year; one in the Spring (April) and one in the Fall (October). The News and Upcoming Events page will be updated with specific dates. Also check out our Paper Shredding page for tips and event details.

    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.

    What are my options for tours and presentations?

    1) WMRA Elkridge

    Schedule a tour of Waste Management Recycle America located at 7175 Kit Kat Road in Elkridge. Please note this tour is only available for people 18 and older. This tour lasts about an hour. Tours are scheduled as requested and must be groups of at least 6, with a maximum of 15. If you are not able to form a group, you can be added to an existing tour. Call 410-313-6444 for a tour schedule.

    2) WMRA Capital Heights

    Schedule a tour of Waste Management Recycle America located in Capital Heights. This is the sister facility to the processor in Elkridge, but has a viewing platform that's great for kids of all ages. This facility is located at 1000 Ritchie Road, Capital Heights, 20743 and the phone number to schedule a tour is 301-499-1707.

    3) Alpha Ridge Landfill Tour

    Schedule a tour of Alpha Ridge Landfill. A Recycling Coordinator will guide your group around Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents' Convenience Area to discuss what is collected and what happens to all those items. Many things are reused or recycled, but trash is collected too. The group may also tour the Compost Demo Area and Transfer Building. Did you know most of Howard County's trash is exported to a landfill in VA? Call 410-313-6444 to schedule.

    4) Recycling Presentation

    Schedule a recycling presentation. A Recycling Coordinator will discuss the ins and outs of recycling, as well as provide an inside look at what happens to all those things we recycle. Here's the video if you'd like to check it out! Call 410-313-6444 to schedule.

    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.