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

Questions? Email or call 410-313-6444

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Inclement Weather Update - Monday, January 14

Due to Inclement weather, curbside collection of recycling, yard trim and trash is cancelled on Monday, January 14. All curbside collections will slide and be made one day later this week. County offices and the Alpha Ridge Landfill will open at 10am on Monday, January 14th.

Friday, January 18 - Last Day of Yard Trim Collection

Yard trim collection runs from the first week in April through the third week in January. For 2019, the last day of curbside yard trim collection will be on Friday, January 18th. Yard trim collection will resume in April. After curbside collection ends, residents can recycle yard trim at the Alpha Ridge Landfill WoodWaste area, Monday-Saturday from 8am to 4pm.

Merry Mulch 2019

Merry Mulch Holiday Tree Drop-off

Click on the image to print a handy flier. Or visit our Merry Mulch webpage.

NEW! Vinyl Siding and PVC Drop-Off at ARL

We now accept vinyl building materials for recycling at the Alpha Ridge Landfill (2350 Marriottsville Road). Look for the roll-off near the Loading Dock trailer in the Residents' Convenience Area. Acceptable items include: vinyl siding, j-channels, soffit, fencing and cellular PVC.

kbyt game

11% Doesn't Belong...

11% of the stuff Howard County residents think is recyclable and put in their blue bin...doesn't belong and ends up as trash.

Play our game and drag & drop items to the correct place to see how much you "KNOW" Before You Throw. Play it again for new items too!


Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) CLOSED for 2018 

HHW drop-off days at the Alpha Ridge Landfill occur April-November. Every Saturday drop-off will resume in April of 2019, however there will be special drop-off days on Saturday, January 5; Saturday, February 2; and Saturday, March 2.


Helpful, Simple & Easy Printable Graphic 









11% Isn't Right...Do You "Know" Before You Throw?

Test your knowledge and earn a FREE gift!


What to Recycle

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.


 ARL Residents' Convenience Center

Click on the brochure to the left or 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).



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!

Carts & Bins

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 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.


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


How can I be the first to know? 

Sign up for your monthly email of updates, holiday schedules, shredding events and more.


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.

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.


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. We've compiled a list of organizations that reuse or recycle Styrofoam™ cups, packaging and peanuts. Please see our Know Before You Throw 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.


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 or sawdust. 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.