State of Emergency Update 3/20/2020

Curbside collection services for trash, recycling, yard trim (resumes the week of March 30), food scraps, bulk items, and scrap metal are all operating normally. Please avoid unnecessary trips to Alpha Ridge Landfill. Visit our website for updates and information regarding operations at Alpha Ridge Landfill.
Recycling Collection Details

Howard County provides residents with one free recycling container. Containers are assigned to each address and must remain at the house, even if the resident moves. Residents may put their street name and number on the container which will help it stay where it belongs. 

There are three options for containers:


recycling cart dimensions

Cracked cart or missing wheel? Want to exchange for a larger/smaller size? Call or email our office for assistance.

Please be sure to include name, address and phone number for all requests by email.


For information regarding Trash, Yard Trim, and Bulk Trash collections, please visit our Curbside Collections Page.


Is that recyclable? Trash? Household Hazardous Waste?


kbyt gameMilk cartons? Plastic bags? Cooking oil?

Do you Know Before You Throw? Test your skills! Click and move the items to the correct place in our updated game to see what actually goes in your recycling bin. Learn about the other outlets we have to reduce, reuse and recycle your stuff.


Print your certificate and bring it to our main office (9801 Broken Land Parkway) to receive a FREE indoor recycling collection container (Limit one per household, while supplies last).


Keep it Loose, Lose the Bag

Plastic bags/film and plastic-bagged recyclables are no longer accepted in recycling.  keep it loose, lose the bag


Plastic bags and film should be taken to your local retail or grocery store. Here is a map of plastic bag/film recycling locations and see what they accept. Items placed out for recycling, should be loose in the county assigned recycling bin/cart (plastic bagged recyclables will not be collected). Watch our No Plastic Bags videoFor more, check out the 'NO Plastic Bags' section below for details and frequently asked questions.

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 paper bag (do not use plastic bags for recyclables). 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.
  • 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.
  • Recyclables should be loose in your recycling container. 
  • Recycling is collected once a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pickup time may vary. Find your collection day here.
  • Residents putting out items for donation (Purple Heart, Freecycle, etc.) should be sure to clearly mark those items and keep them close to the house to avoid accidental collection.
  • 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.

NO Plastic Bags

All plastic bags and film are not acceptable in curbside recycling. This includes:

  • Grocery/retail bags
  • Mattress/furniture covers
  • Newspaper bags
  • Bread bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Plastic wrap from toilet paper rolls, napkins, paper towels, bottled water, etc.
  • Produce bags
  • Frozen vegetable bags
  • Food storage bags
  • Bubble wrap
  • Air filled bags for packaging
  • Biodegradable or compostable bags

These should be taken to a grocery or retail store for recycling. See map for locations! Check out this poster about what can be taken back to your local grocery or retail store for recycling.


Why can't you put bags in your 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 and are not accepted by our recycling processor.

What do I do with shredded paper now that I can’t use plastic bags in the cart?

You can put shredded paper in paper grocery bags and then add that to your recycling cart or bin.

My cart is broken and I’ve been using plastic bags to hold items, how to I get it fixed/replaced?

We can easily replace (and sometimes fix!) a broken cart. Just call us at 410-313-6444 or email to let us know. Please be sure to include your address and the size that you have so we can place a work order for the new container. Check the serial number on the front of the cart. If you see 35R, you have a 35 gallon cart; if you see 65R, you have a 65 gallon cart.

My household routinely has overflow, can I get a second cart/use another container?

Howard County provides 1 free recycling cart or bin to households with County-provided services. Residents may choose between an 18 gallon bin (open-top), 35 gallon cart (lid & wheels), or 65 gallon cart (lid & wheels). Residents may also use additional reusable containers for collection (but should refrain from using a trash can which may be confusing for collection crews). Residents may also purchase additional County carts/bins for recycling collection. 

What about windy days?

If this is a concern, residents can trade their open top bin for a cart with a lid. Just send your address to and let us know which size you'd like, or call 410-313-6444 to make an exchange. If you don't want a lidded container and are concerned about a very windy day, you can put your items in grocery store paper bags or hold your recycling until the following week. Howard County residents are also able to take recycling to the Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents' Convenience Center Monday-Saturday, 8am to 4pm. Just show your driver's licence.

Can I use paper bags?

Residents can use grocery store paper bags. Please don't use paper yard trim bags for household recycling as the bags will likely be collected by the yard trim truck. Please note that the best option for recycling is to have items loose in your recycling cart or bin.


Paper recyclables MUST BE CLEAN.



  • milk & juice cartons
  • aseptic packaging (drink, milk, soups, food)
  • newspapers & inserts
  • books (paperback, hardback, phone books)
  • junk mail (No windowed envelopes)
  • catalogs/magazines
  • boxes (food, snack, shoe, toy)
  • gift wrap (non-shiny only)
  • tubes from paper towels & toilet paper
  • paper egg cartons



  • windowed envelopes
  • ice cream containers
  • wax paper
  • paper towels, napkins, tissues
  • paper plates, bowls, 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)
  • food contaminated boxes such as greasy pizza boxes 



  • clean cardboard ONLY



  • food contaminated boxes such as greasy pizza boxes 
  • furnace filters
  • 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 (soap, dressings, drinks, sauces, etc.)
  • spray bottles (hair and cleaning products)
  • pump bottles (lotions and soaps)
  • Jugs (detergents, milk, juices)
  • tubs (butter, cheese, yogurt)
  • jars (peanut butter, spreads, sauces)
  • frozen food trays
  • non-styrofoam restaurant takeout containers (typically have a plastic clear lid and black bottom)
  • milk/soda crates
  • flower pots (CLEAN, no soil or plant material)
  • buckets (including buckets with metal handles)
  • coolers
  • totes and sweater boxes 
  • pet carriers 
  • large plastic items, such as playhouses, laundry baskets, and lawn furniture



  • any type of disposable plastic cups, plates, bowls, utensils
  • plastic clamshell packaging for food, toys, electronics, batteries, etc (examples and why they aren't recyclable)
  • rotisserie chicken containers and bakery/deli trays
  • plastic egg cartons
  • plastic bags, film, wrap, and plastic-bagged materials
  • hangers 
  • wax paper or liners from cereal/cracker boxes
  • crinkly wrappers for chips and snacks
  • drink and food pouches
  • toothpaste tubes
  • acrylic plastic
  • CDs/DVDs and jewel cases
  • StyrofoamTM - please recycle at Alpha Ridge Landfill
  • coffee pods (some mail-in recycling programs are available)
  • motor oil or pesticide bottles


YES (Clean. Empty. Dry)

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



  • aluminum foil/bakeware (recent change)
  • compressed gas tanks (propane, helium, oxygen, etc.)
  • 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 bottles & jars



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

Print Me

Howard County Collection Guide coverKnow Before You Throw Sign

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.

Call or email our office for assistance. Please be sure to include name, address and phone number for all requests by email.