In 2018, Howard County's waste diversion rate was 49.5%. The waste diversion goal is comprised of the recycling rate plus source reduction credits (maximum 5%) that Maryland Counties and Baltimore City earn through activities designed to reduce the amount of waste going to the waste stream.
In 2018, Howard County recycled a total of 242,358 tons of material! This included 65,518 tons from residents and 176,840 tons from businesses. Business tons were generated by Howard County businesses who reported to us. These businesses are recognized as Work Green Howard businesses. Is your favorite business a Work Green Howard Business?
Paper and Cardboard – 59.7%
Glass Bottles – 15.5%
Aluminum Cans – 1.1%
Water & Soda Bottles – 4.1%
Metal Cans – 1.7%
Milk Containers - .8%
Liquid Detergent Containers – 1.2%
Other Plastic Containers (#3-7) – 2.5%
Rigid Plastics - 1.2%
Trash – 11.5%
Percentages based on average weights from recent audits. Trash includes items that are not recyclable, as well as items that do not belong in the blue cart, but can be recycled in our other programs (EX. Styrofoam, yard trim, scrap metal). These items placed in the blue recycling carts are sorted out as trash and will not be recycled. Help us achieve a cleaner stream. Check out our detailed list of acceptable material for curbside collections.
In 2019, we gave away about 350 compost bins!
328 interior doors
114 exterior doors
395 kitchen cabinets
207 kitchen sinks
580 light fixtures
Learn about acceptable recyclables, special events, our Composting Facility and more at our Alpha Ridge Landfill page.
We have an online tool to check your collection days. For specific questions about curbside collections (trash, recycling, yard trim) please visit our Curbside Collections page.
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.
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.
We all have questions about what to do with certain items.
Learn how to properly recycle, reuse, donate or dispose of various items on our Know Before You Throw page. Questions about what's acceptable curbside? Visit our Curbside Collections page for all guidelines.
Please take your bags/film is to a participating 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. See our map for a list of participating drop-off locations (subject to change).
Why shouldn't I put bags in my curbside bin?
Loose bags, and even bundled bags, get wrapped around recycling equipment and jam the screens at the processor. Plastic bags 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?
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 DVD cases is a good example of crinkly, non-stretchable plastic that should be trashed.
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.
Styrofoam™ #6 can be taken to the Alpha Ridge Landfill Convenience Center for recycling. 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.
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.