We all have questions about what to do with certain items. Items we hear a lot are milk cartons, plastic bags, coffee pods, cooking oil, Styrofoam and take-out containers.
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.
There have been some changes to our curbside program - test your skills! 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).
NOTE: Howard County does not sponsor or endorse any businesses or programs listed below. These options are provided as a resource to our residents.
Aluminum foil and bakeware are no longer accepted in curbside recycling. However, you can take it to the Alpha Ridge Landfill scrap metal area for recycling.
*Store Drop-off refers to retail and grocery stores that accept plastic bags and film for recycling.
Antifreeze should not be poured down the drain. Antifreeze (not mixed with oil or other substances) can be recycled at the Alpha Ridge Convenience Center Monday-Saturday 8am to 4pm. Please leave container for attendant to empty.
Have older items that you think may be valuable? Check out nearby consignment stores to resell those items such as Housewerks and online shopping communities like www.tias.com. Also visit The New York Salvage for ideas about values.
Working appliances should be reused/donated. Check out BGE to earn cash, list them on Craigslist or FreeCycle, schedule a pick-up from Habitat ReStore in Columbia or The Loading Dock, or simply put them at the curb with a FREE sign. For non-working appliances, schedule a scrap metal collection (call 410-313-6444) or take appliances to the scrap metal area at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Refrigerators (doors removed), air conditioners and dehumidifiers must be placed next to the scrap metal drop-off so the Freon can be removed.
Small appliances (toasters, mixers, toaster ovens, coffee makers, etc) can be taken to The Alpha Ridge Landfill to be recycled with scrap metal. Or, if you have a large amount of scrap metal, call 410-313-6444 to schedule a curbside pickup.
Benefit charitable organizations by donating vehicles to groups such as Wheels for Wishes, Kars4Kids or Goodwill. Or, sell it to Junk Car Medics or SellMax for proper recycling and some cash!
Donate usable items, such a strollers and high chairs to a local charity or second-hand store, or contact BabyEarth.com for a mail-in program. Check out Target's car seat trade-in program. Buy and sell kid's items using ThredUP. Have unused diapers? Donate them to NationalDiaperBankNetwork.org. Remove the padding from a car seat and recycle the plastic part at your curb or at Alpha Ridge Landfill.
Alkaline batteries after 1995 are OK to be disposed of in your regular trash. For other batteries, including rechargeable and button, see our Battery Recycling webpage. Many different types of batteries can also be dropped off at My Organic Market (MOM's).
Bring reusable bicycles to Alpha Ridge and give those bikes another life! Look for the Reusable Bicycle shed (please no tricycles or motorized bikes). This is a partnership with the Lions Club of Glenwood and Bikes for the World which has donated bikes to youth projects in Africa, Costa Rica, Barbados, El Salvador, DC and rural Kentucky. Also consider Velocipede, located in Baltimore . If your bike isn't in good condition, contact your local bike store to see if they can use the parts or as a last resort, recycle it with scrap metal at Alpha Ridge Landfill.
Donate usable binders to your favorite charity. Prepare for Success has locations in Howard County. Spiral bound paper notebooks and notepads can be recycled in your curbside recycling bin. Broken binders belong in the trash.
Donate books to your local Howard County library. Check out MD Book Bank, paperbackswap.com and Second Edition Books for buy-back and donation, The Book Thing of Baltimore for donating and free book pick-up, Discover Books for local drop-off bins that support literacy in Howard County schools, or send books to overseas troops through Operation Paperback.
Check out BraRecycling.com and DonateYourBra.com to recycle and reuse used and unused bras. Bras can also be donated to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Purple Heart, Planet Aid, etc.
Send filters to the My Brita program (they partner with Terracycle). Or, drop them off at My Organic Market (MOM's).
What's better than recycling? Reuse! Check out BoxCycle and ABCBoxes to donate boxes, or get reusable boxes.
If you can't reuse the boxes, clean cardboard can be recycled in your Curbside Recycling.
Cardboard can also be recycled at the Alpha Ridge Residents' Convenience Center.
When shopping, ask contractors if they recycle used carpet. Visit the Carpet America Recovery Effort for details. Effective November 1, 2015, Alpha Ridge Landfill (ARL) will no longer accept carpet for recycling. Carpet taken to ARL will be disposed as trash and an $80 per ton fee will apply.
Donate car seats to the Baltimore Pregnancy Center. If they're old or ruined, please remove all fabric, padding and straps and take them to the ARL Residents' Convenience Center Rigid Plastics area for recycling. Target has a periodic trade-in program for used car seats. Visit their website for more details.
Usable CDs or DVDs should be donated to your local library, Goodwill or The Salvation Army. For kid's DVDs, contact your local pediatric hospital. Or, Murfie stores discs, recycles jewel cases and creates digital versions of your music for you to download. Visit Greendisk.com for mail-in recycling programs.
Bring them to the Alpha Ridge Landfill or take them back to your cell phone company. MOM's accepts them for recycling through Secure the Call. Also, visit sellcell.com or greenbuyback.com to get paid for recycling.
Please put incandescent and LED bulbs in your household trash and refer to the CFL recycling page for proper disposal of other bulbs and tubes.
Working lights can be donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Broken/dead strands can be taken to Alpha Ridge Landfill and recycled with electronics (DO NOT put in your curbside recycling). Or, send them to HolidayLEDs.com or Christmas Light Source and receive a coupon for new lights. MOM's has a winter holiday light drop-off.
Undecorated artificial trees and wreaths can be recycled with scrap metal at the Alpha Ridge Convenience Area.
Undecorated live trees and wreaths can be recycled in the woodwaste area at Alpha Ridge Landfill. During the holiday season, visit our Merry Mulch webpage.
At this time, Waste Management is unable to recycle plastic clamshells due to the way they are manufactured. While we wait for technology and markets, avoid purchasing items in clamshells and consider these reuse ideas to keep those clamshells out of the trash.
Donate clothing to local shelters or charities, such as Linwood Center, GreenDrop, Goodwill and Salvation Army. Or, bring gently used clothing to the Alpha Ridge Landfill for donation. Have items that aren't wearable? Donate them! Many donation organization partner with rag manufacturers. Also check out The North Face's ClothesTheLoop program.
Success in Style in Savage Mill collects new or gently worn business clothing and accessories. Dress for Success accepts women's interview attire via mail-in or drop-off. To donate men's interview attire, visit Career Gear.
At this time, coffee pods are not recyclable in Howard County. However, the coffee inside the pods can be composted in your backyard compost pile. Keurig offers Grounds to Grow On boxes to mail-in coffee pods. Nespresso provides free mail-in recycling bags. Terracycle offers a Coffee Capsules zero waste box.
Compost can be taken to Alpha Ridge Landfill for recycling in our Feed The Green Bin compost area, or to MOM's who uses private haulers for collection (varies by store).
Propane, helium & oxygen tanks and fire extinguishers are accepted at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Or, return tanks to the seller.
Whether it's a huge renovation or small home project, please visit our Construction & Demolition webpage for what to do with debris material you no longer need.
Used cooking oil can be recycled at the Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents' Convenience Center Monday-Saturday, 8am to 4pm. Check out our cooking oil website.
Recycle wine corks in the lobby of the Roger Carter Center in Ellicott City (corks are sent to Sole). You can also take corks to Whole Foods, My Organic Market (MOM's) or visit recork.org for additional drop-off locations. Or, check out 11 ways to reuse corks.
Certain arts & craft supplies can be taken to Scrap B-more, a donation-based creative reuse and donation store in Baltimore. Their list of acceptable and unacceptable items changes occasionally, so please check their website for up-to-date information.
Make new crayons by microwaving old crayon stubs in a paper cup for 15-second intervals. The melted crayon blob will harden into a new crazy and colorful crayon! Crayola also has some neat crayon crafts. Crayons are not recyclable in your blue bin, but you can visit CrazyCrayons.com or The Crayon Initiative to learn about a mail-in program for old crayons. Also see "Markers" below.
Check out our donation directory for local options to drop-off or have items picked up.
Recycle or donate old electronic items. Best Buy and Staples have electronics recycling (see company links for restrictions). Participating Goodwill locations accept computer equipment. For more options, visit our Electronics webpage.
Swap videos and DVDs on VideoFitness.com.
Donate old glasses so they can be worn rather than take up drawer space. Order a donation box from VSP, check your local eye doctor, the Lions Club, OneSight.org or My Organic Market (MOM's) for other drop-off locations.
If you have an old EZ-Pass, please return it to a drop box at an EZ-Pass Customer Service Location. Check out our email blast for locations. Or, bring the pass to a Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Day at the Alpha Ridge Landfill (Saturdays ONLY, April-November).
Fire extinguishers and other compressed gas tanks such as propane, helium, & oxygen tanks are accepted at Alpha Ridge Landfill for recycling. Also consider returning tanks to the seller.
For proper disposal of ammunition, please contact 2 A Sales & Supplies at 240-456-0060 (in Jessup) or On Target, Inc at 301-621-7777 (in Severn). For unwanted firearms, check UnwantedFirearms.org.
There are many different types of food delivery packaging. Most items are not recyclable in Howard County. We can accept the cardboard boxes (as long as they are NOT wax coated), but please be aware that many food delivery websites have recycling guidelines, which aren't applicable to our recycling program. Remember we don't accept any type of plastic bags or film (including the empty ice packs). Insulation type material is also trash. If you have specific questions, please call 410-313-6444 or email email@example.com.
Compost items such as banana peels, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and egg shells to make a nutrient-rich soil. For details about a FREE backyard compost bin, visit our Composting webpage. Check to see if you're in our Feed The Green Bin Area. If you are, sign up to get a FREE green bin. If your area doesn't receive collection (yet), you can drop-off food scraps at the Alpha Ridge Landfill for composting or take those food scraps to My Organic Market (MOM's) which offers composting as well! Check out the webpages for details about what is accepted.
MOM's accepts adult and baby food squeeze pouches and caps. Please make sure all excess food remnants have been removed. Items must be completely dry.
Used furnace filters belong in the trash. If you have filters that are new, consider donating them to a charity such as Restore.
There are many local donation options and pick-up organizations to give your used furniture and home goods a second life. Think your furniture is beyond repair and not good enough for donation? Think again! Give those items a chance and donate them. Check out our donation directory for local options. If your items are truly trash and have no life left, please visit our Bulk Item website.
Garden Harvest collects farm and garden tools for growing organic fruits & vegetables and for donating to Appalachia.
Shaw Aquafarms accepts garden hoses (any length, condition, material, or type) for donation to design a drip irrigation system for the fields. Hoses can be dropped off at 8000 Harriet Tubman Lane. For questions, please email Natasha at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reuse glass bottles and jars using ideas from here and here. Or, Recycle any color glass bottles & jars in your curbside recycling or at the Alpha Ridge Convenience Center (just show your driver's license). Please remember that glass must be Clean. Empty. Dry. We do not accept window glass, drinking glasses, mirrors, ceramics, crystal, CorningWare or Pyrex.
Grills can be recycled with scrap metal. Call 410-313-6444 to schedule a curbside collection or recycle your grill at Alpha Ridge Convenience Center (just show your driver's license). You can also recycle your propane tank at Alpha Ridge in the compressed gas tank area. Please do not put gas tanks in the scrap metal area.
Contact your local donation center to see if they need hangers. Reuse is the best option. Plastic hangers are not recyclable because they can jam processing equipment at the recycling plant.
Contact your local dry cleaner to see if they take back wire hangers or reuse them with these great craft ideas. Wire hangers are not recyclable in your blue bin because they can jam processing equipment at the recycling plant. However, you can tape them together and bring them to Alpha Ridge Landfill to recycle them with scrap metal.
MOM's accepts health and beauty packaging which is recycled through Terracycle. Accepted items include toothpaste tubes & caps, toothbrushes, deodorant containers & caps, mouthwash bottles & caps, soap packaging & dispensers, floss containers, shampoo & conditioner caps, hair gel tubes & caps, hair spray triggers, lip balm/gloss tubes & caps, lotion dispensers & caps, lipstick cases, mascara tubes, eye shadow cases, bronzer cases, foundation packaging, powder cases, eyeliner cases, eyeliner pencils, eye shadow tubes, concealer tubes, concealer sticks, lip liner pencils, etc.
Best practices for recycling: Please make sure all leftover product has been removed. Items must be completely dry.
Visit our Household Hazardous Waste page.
Take ink and toner cartridges to the Howard County Animal Shelter located at 8576 Davis Rd, Columbia, MD 21045 (they recycle and make some money). Or, check out retailers such as Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Walgreens and the Post Office. Some offer an incentive coupon. There are also mail-back programs including Dell and Quill.
MOM's hosts an annual denim drive typically in the Spring. Donate jeans to Blue Jeans Go Green or your favority charity organization.
Juice pouches and crinkly wrappers from chips and snack bars are not recyclable in your curbside bin. However, Terracycle collects wrappers and pouches to make handbags, pencil cases and more. Your local school may have a collection program. My Organic Market also accepts aluminum & plastic drink pouches (including straws) and drink pouches with spouts.
Always be sure to cap your markers when you're finished, that way you can help them last as long as possible! Please remember that markers are not recyclable in your blue bin. If you have old markers that have been loved so much that their color is dry, Crayola's ColorCycle program works with elementary schools to turn markers into energy. Prang also has a mail-in marker recycling program.
Mattresses & box springs can be recycled at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Residents can also schedule curbside bulk item collection by calling 410-313-6444. Mattresses & box springs collected at the curb will not be recycled. If possible, take them to the Alpha Ridge to give them a chance to be made into something new! Ikea now has a mattress recycling program too!
In coordination with the Loan Closet of Howard County residents can now drop-off durable, reusable medical equipment at the Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents' Convenience Center.
Items Accepted: Bathing Aids (shower & bath), Canes, Ramps (modular/portable), Therapy Aids, Toilet Aids, Walkers and Manual Wheelchairs.
Items Not Accepted: Hospital beds*, CPAP machines, Items missing pieces, Broken Items, Oxygen Tanks, Prescription medications, Expired medical supplies, Mattresses, Items containing mercury or Items requiring calibration.
*Hospital beds can be donated to the Anne Arundel Food and Resource Bank 410-923-4255, ALS Society 1-301-978-9855 or MD Tap Program 410-554-9232.
**CPAP machines can be donated to the American Sleep Apnea Association http://www.donatedcpap.org.
DO NOT flush unwanted medications down the toilet.
Once you have safely disposed of the medication, recycle the empty medicine bottles.
Curbside Recycling or Alpha Ridge Convenience Center (just show your driver's license).
Did you know that certain microbeads used in body and face scrubs are now banned? Plastic beads that are made of polyethylene or polypropylene do not break down and can damage marine life. Some companies, like Proctor & Gamble, have pledged to stop using the beads, but if you have products that contain plastic microbeads, it's best to toss the closed container in the trash. Go to beatthemicrobead.org to see a list of affected products.
See "Sharps" below.
Motor oil, oil filters and hydraulic oils (brake, transmission or power steering) can be taken to the Alpha Ridge Convenience Center (just show your driver's license).
Don't just shuck 'em and chuck 'em. Bring your empty oyster and clam shells to the Robinson Nature Center for reuse. Shells will be picked up by the Oyster Recovery Partnership and taken to the Horn Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery where they will be cleaned and reseeded with oyster larvae before being reintroduced into the Bay. Find another drop-off location near you!
Here's a paint calculator to avoid leftovers. Hold a paint swap with friends so that usable paint doesn't go to waste. Mix white (or colored) paints together to give walls or furniture a fresh look. Solidify old and unusable paint by adding an absorbent material such as cat litter, shredded newspaper, sawdust or a paint hardener. If there isn't much paint left in the can, leave the lid off to air dry. Once solidified, leave the lid off so the contractors can see it's solid and set it out with your regular trash. You can also contact Yuck Old Paint and PaintCare and ask for a pickup or drop-off paint at our Household Hazardous Waste days at Alpha Ridge Landfill (Saturdays ONLY in April-November).
Make chalk paint out of leftover paint you have at home. Chalk paint is great for craft projects including furniture restoration. All that you need is a little leftover latex paint, some Plaster of Paris or Calcium carbonate and water.
Curbside Recycling or taken to Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents' Convenience Center. Paper recyclables MUST BE CLEAN.
Good news! You can send your used/dried up/empty pens to the Pen Guy. He gives those pens a new life and uses them in his artwork. Check it out!
Unfortunately, most are NOT RECYCLABLE. These bags are typically layers of different materials and once those layers are together, it's hard to get components separated so that they can be made into new things. Still not sure? Do the 'tear test'....if you can easily tear the bag and don't see a plastic film layer mixed with the paper, it's good to go for recycling. This holds true for some paper plates and gift wrap too.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - in that order. Use reusable bags so you have less plastic bags. If you already have a few, check out plastic bag reuse ideas. If you can't reuse, then recycle at a retail store.
Plastic bags & plastic film should be taken to a grocery or retail store for recycling (see map above for locations).
All plastic bags and film are not accepted 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, bottles of water, etc., produce bags, frozen vegetable bags, food storage bags, bubble wrap and air filled bags for packaging.
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 to the curbside recycling processor equipment. Check out this poster about what can be taken back to your grocery/retail stores for recycling.
Curbside recycling or recycled at Alpha Ridge Convenience Center, just show your driver's license.
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.
Large plastic items, such as playhouses, totes, laundry baskets and buckets can be recycled at curbside or taken to the Rigid Plastics area at the Residents' Convenience Center.
For some hard to recycle plastic items, such as compacts and brushes, check out Aveda's Full Circle Recycling program for details about what they accept in their stores.
Donate usable pots and pans to a charity, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Unusable pots and pans can be recycled with scrap metal at the Alpha Ridge Convenience Center.
You can add your carved/uncarved pumpkins and gourds to your curbside yard trim pickup. Or, take them to the Alpha RIdge Landfill and add them to our compost area.
Reuse those shingles. Or, as a last resort, the charge for asphalt shingle disposal at Alpha Ridge Landfill is the tip fee rate of $80 per ton.
1) Place used needles in an empty plastic bottle (ex. detergent bottle) to protect the trash collection crew. When the bottle is full, add the cap and put the bottle in your trash.
2) Your local pharmacy may offer disposal or exchange services.
3) Sharps Disposal Services: American Waste Management (410-276-7400), Biomedical Waste Services (410-437-6590)
4) Purchase containers for safe mail-in disposal: Sharps Disposal by Mail System, Waste Management MedWaste Tracker, MedPro Disposal.
Items such as pillow packs (those air filled plastic bags), Styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap can be reused. If you can't reuse it, contact your UPS, FedEx or local shipping store to see if they will reuse it. Many locations are happy to take these items back.
Nike's ReUSE A SHOE program can turn your old sneakers into playground and athletic flooring. If shoes are useable, consider donating them to Goodwill, Salvation Army, My Organic Market (MOM's), One World Running or start a shoe collection program through ShoeBox Recycling or Soles4Souls.org.
Before you shred, check out our shredding webpage for tips. Once you have shredded paper, you can use it in your garden. Or, take shredded paper to your local animal shelter (contact them to see what they can use). Shredded paper can also be placed in a paper bag, stapled shut, and added to your curbside recycling. Why bagged? Loose shredded paper is like confetti and will make a mess at the facility.
Silicone kitchen items and bakeware cannot be recycled in Howard County. However, Terracycle has a Kitchen Separation Zero Waste Box which may accept these types of items.
Howard County currently doesn't have a separate collection for smoke detectors. Please place them in your regular trash. For more information, visit www.epa.gov.
Snack bags are NOT recyclable in your curbside blue bin. However, you can take them to MOM's who partners with Terracycle. They accept family-size and individual snack/chip/pretzel/savory snack bags.
Best practices for recycling: Please make sure all excess food remnants have been removed. Items must be completely dry.
What happens to the waste: Snack bags are melted into hard plastic that can be remolded to make new recycled products. Learn more about the recycling process.
Register a soap drive, visit cleantheworld.org. Or, here's a DIY project to reuse soap leftovers.
Recycle solar lights and get money for your next purchase. Visit Your Solar Link.
Trade or sell sports equipment at Play It Again Sports.
Cleats: Caring Cleats collects used soccer cleats and redistributes them to the Tarahumara Indian community in Chihuahua, Mexico. Email Kennedy at email@example.com or call 443-433-2386. Golf Clubs
Golf Clubs: The First Tee of Howard County accepts good condition golf equipment to help Howard County children gain valuable life skills.
Hockey Equipment: Restore Hockey cleans, refurbishes and repairs used equipment and then donates the items to children, families and organizations.
Send stamps to Stamp Out Poverty.
Salvation Army and other donation organizations may collect stuffed animals, just give your favorite donation location a call to double-check. Check out Teddy Bear Brigade for mail-in programs or contact your local churches and daycares to see if they're interested in gently used stuffed animals.
Styrofoam™ #6 can be recycled at The Alpha Ridge Convenience Center. See our