Recycling Collection Details

Recyclables can be placed "ALL TOGETHER" in the same container. A blue cart, bin, reusable container (no trash cans) or see-through bag is all you need (do not use black bags for recyclables). You don't need to remove lids, caps, labels or rings, but please empty containers and rinse lightly, if needed. Call 410-313-6444 or click here to find out your collection day.

Note: Please NO yard trim or trash in County-issued recycling carts and bins.

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There are three sizes of recycling containers available.

Want to purchase an additional recycling container?

Howard County doesn't use the numbers for recycling because they can be confusing. See the tabs above for items that we accept.

Printable Materials

Visit for all of our printable materials.

Detailed list of what can and can't be recycled.

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! Please don't use trash cans though as collection crews will think you've set out trash and won't collect it.
  • 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. Watch a video of the processor for more details.
  • 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.

PLEASE remember your 4's when placing trash and recyclables out for collection...

  • 4 item per week limit for TRASH. (unlimited recyclables)
  • Each item under 40 pounds. (no weight limit for recycling carts)
  • Each item less than 4 feet long.
  • Put out beFORE 6 am.

Want to donate items? Check out our handy donation directory for pick-up and drop-off options.

Inclement Weather

For collection information during inclement weather, click here. Sign up for an email notice to be the first to know about changes!

Alpha Ridge Convenience Area

Did You Know? ALL Howard County residents can bring household recyclables to the Alpha Ridge Residents' Convenience Area


Call 410-313-6444 or email


Note: Paper recyclables must be clean. Please remove food, plastic liners, waxed paper and styrofoamTM packaging material.


  • milk cartons
  • juice boxes
  • newspapers & inserts
  • phone books
  • junk mail (NEW! Please remove plastic windows from envelopes)
  • food & snack boxes
  • paperback/hardback books
  • greeting cards
  • gift wrap
  • catalogs/magazines
  • tubes for paper towels & toilet paper
  • shoe boxes
  • paper egg cartons
  • shredded paper (must be secured in a paper bag. Check out our Paper Shredding website)


  • food contaminated boxes such as very greasy pizza boxes (if the box has no grease it may be recycled)
  • ice cream containers
  • wax paper or waxed liners from cereal/cracker boxes
  • paper towels
  • tissues
  • napkins
  • paper plates or paper cups
  • foil-type gift wrap
  • laminated paper
  • paper that can't be torn easily (typically means there are plastic layers added)



  • corrugated cardboard (used to hold paper, small appliances, or boxes from warehouse stores, etc).


  • food contaminated cardboard boxes such as very greasy pizza boxes (if the box has no grease it may be recycled)
  • styrofoamTM pieces - please recycle at Alpha Ridge Landfill
  • waxed cardboard (bulk/supplier produce boxes)
  • tied bundles higher than 6"

HOW TO prepare for collection

  • cardboard recyclables must be clean
  • remove plastic liners, waxed paper and styrofoamTM packaging material
  • flatten all boxes to conserve space
  • cut boxes to fit into the 2' x 4' x 6" opening in the recycling truck (i.e., the size of a large bath towel and thickness of a pillow)
  • If preferred, tie or bundle with string (stacked no higher than 6")

Glass Bottles & Jars


  • any color glass food or beverage containers


  • window glass
  • drinking glasses
  • mirrors
  • ceramics
  • crystal
  • fluorescent light bulbs or incandescent light bulbs
  • CorningWare or Pyrex



  • aluminum, steel & tin cans (this includes drink and food, even pet food!)
  • aluminum foil/bakeware
  • EMPTY aerosol cans


  • propane cylinders
  • beach or lawn chairs
  • pots, pans or other scrap metal
  • motor oil or other automotive fluid cans
  • metal hangers


Clean. Empty. Dry. The markets have changed and it’s best to recycle items that are clean, empty and dry. And don’t forget to screw the lid or cap back on before recycling. Please also make sure plastic items are no longer than 4 feet in length, 18 inches in diameter and less than 40 pounds (no weight limit for recycling carts).


  • plastic bottles (shampoo, salad dressing, laundry detergent, etc.)
  • milk jugs
  • spray bottles (hair spray and cleaning products)
  • pump bottles (lotions and soaps)
  • butter and cheese tubs
  • yogurt containers
  • peanut butter jars
  • frozen food trays
  • takeout and chicken containers (typically have a plastic clear lid and black bottom)
  • disposable plastic cups and plates
  • milk/soda crates
  • flower pots (clean, no soil or plant material)
  • buckets (including buckets with metal handles)
  • lawn furniture
  • plastic drinking cups
  • water bottles (even the five gallon or larger)
  • coolers
  • DVD cases (remove paper information sleeve and recycle that too!)
  • totes and sweater boxes (best to donate)
  • pet carriers (best to donate to animal shelters)


  • plastic clamshell packaging for food, toys, electronics, batteries, etc (examples and why they aren't recyclable)
  • plastic egg cartons
  • plastic bags and film (see below for more)
  • plastic disposable utensils
  • hangers (they can jam the sorting equipment)
  • wax paper or liners from cereal/cracker boxes
  • crinkly wrappers for chips and snacks (granola bars, candy bars, pretzels, etc)
  • toothpaste tubes WHY? They are a mix of many different components
  • acrylic plastic
  • CDs/DVDs and jewel cases (please recycle jewel cases and CDs/DVDs at Best Buy)
  • juice pouches (capri sun or other types)
  • styrofoamTM - please recycle at Alpha Ridge Landfill
  • K-Cups for Keurig machines - Why? See their website and check out a mail-in recycling program
  • motor oil or pesticide bottles

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 you put bags in your curbside bin? Loose bags, and even bundled bags, can 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. Here are more details about recycling bags and check out this neat poster.