Recycling Collection Details

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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.

What To Recycle


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Paper recyclables MUST BE CLEAN.



  • milk cartons & juice boxes
  • newspapers & inserts
  • paperback/hard pack and phone books
  • junk mail (NEW! No windowed envelopes)
  • catalogs/magazines
  • food, snack and shoe boxes
  • non-shiny paper gift wrap
  • tubes from paper towels & toilet paper
  • paper egg cartons



  • food contaminated boxes such as greasy pizza boxes 
  • windowed envelopes
  • ice cream containers
  • wax paper
  • paper towels, napkins, tissues
  • paper plates or paper cups
  • foil-type gift wrap (can't easily be torn)
  • laminated paper
  • paper that can't be torn easily (typically means there are plastic layers added)



  • clean cardboard ONLY



  • food contaminated boxes such as greasy pizza boxes 
  • styrofoamTM pieces - please recycle at Alpha Ridge Landfill
  • waxed cardboard (bulk/supplier produce boxes)


HOW TO prepare for collection

  • 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")


The markets have changed and it’s best to recycle items that are clean, empty and dry.  Please screw the lid or cap back on before recycling. 


YES (Clean. Empty. Dry.)

  • 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)
  • milk/soda crates
  • flower pots (cCLEAN, no soil or plant material)
  • buckets (including buckets with metal handles)
  • lawn furniture
  • 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)



  • disposable plastic cups and plates
  • disposable utensils
  • 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)
  • hangers (they jam the sorting equipment)
  • wax paper or liners from cereal/cracker boxes
  • crinkly wrappers for chips and snacks
  • juice pouches
  • toothpaste tubes WHY? They are a mix of many different components
  • acrylic plastic
  • CDs/DVDs and jewel cases
  • 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

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags & plastic film should be taken to a grocery or retail store for recycling. 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.

Metal Cans

YES (Clean. Empty. Dry)

  • aluminum, steel & tin cans (even pet food!)
  • EMPTY aerosol cans



  • aluminum foil/bakeware
  • propane cylinders
  • pots, pans or other scrap metal
  • motor oil or other automotive fluid cans
  • metal hangers

Glass Bottles & Jars

YES (Clean. Empty. Dry.)

  • any color glass food or beverage containers



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

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Recycling Collection Guidelines

  • 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 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.

Check Your Collection Days

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

Holidays That May Affect Collection

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.

Broken Cart? 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.