Feed The Green Bin

food scrap picture Our Feed The Green Bin program is expanding again!

Did you receive our postcard in the mail? If so, you can sign up online or through the mail by sending back our postcard (remember to include your address and container size).

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.

Did you know? 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.

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.

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

Where can I buy compostable bags?


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.

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)
  • 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 6400 or BPI standards for compostability)
  • 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

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


  • 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.

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 help@howardcountyrecycles.org

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my neighborhood is in the collection area?

You can check to see if your area receives collection through our online sign-up

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.

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). Here is a map of retail locations that sell compostable bags. They are also available online from many different websites.

How often is the cart emptied?

The cart will be emptied once per week 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.

Should 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.

What about using 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.

Can I put pet waste in compostable bags in my green bin?

Unfortunately, we still cannot accept pet waste (even in compostable bags). There are pathogens in these wastes that are transmittable to humans and other animals. While our composting process meets EPA composting standards and reduces pathogens, it does not sterilize the compost. We strive for a rich compost, free of pathogens and therefore, prohibit pet waste.

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

Please visit our Pilot Compost Facility webpage or email help@howardcountyrecycles.org

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.