COVID-19 Updates: The Bureau of Environmental Services office is currently closed to the public. The Alpha Ridge Landfill is open with modified operations.

This page is monitored daily. Last update: 6/30/20

Please be aware that some donation/recycling opportunities may be impacted by the State of Emergency. Please check with businesses and organizations before donating/recycling material. 

know before you throw!

Know Before You Throw

We all have questions about what to do with certain items. 


Learn how to properly recycle, reuse, donate or dispose of various items. Is something missing from our list? Let us know as we continue to keep our page up to date. For specific curbside recycling questions, please visit our Curbside Collections Details page. To learn about what can be recycled at Alpha Ridge Landfill, visit our Residents' Convenience Center page.



Call: 410-313-6444


Tanglers, Styrofoam and glass (other than bottles and jars) are some of the most frequent mistakes found in our curbside recycling. Remember--tanglers include plastic bags and film. 

Keep it Loose, Lose the Bag!



 For more videos, posters and other education material please visit our Brochures & Outreach page.


NOTE: Howard County does not sponsor or endorse any businesses or programs listed below. These options are provided as a resource to our residents.

Is it recyclable? Trash? Household Hazardous Waste?


Milk 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.

kbyt game


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).





COVID-19 Update: While offices remain closed to the public, we are unable to accept certificates or distribute indoor recycling containers at this time. 


Air Pillows & Bubble Wrap

Air pillows & bubble wrap are not acceptable in curbside recycling collection or at Alpha Ridge Landfill. These items and other plastic films get wrapped around recycling equipment and jam the screens at the processor causing a lot of damage to the curbside recycling processor equipment. Please consider reusing these items for shipping/packaging purposes.

If you are unable to reuse them, they can be recycled with Plastic Bags & Film at participating grocery and retail stores (see map below for locations)


Check out this poster for a complete list of acceptable plastic films that can be taken back to your grocery/retail stores for recycling, .

Aluminum Foil/Bakeware

Aluminum foil and bakeware are no longer accepted in curbside recycling. However, you can take it to the scrap metal area at the Residents' Convenience Center for recycling.

Amazon Packaging

Before disposal, consider donating boxes, bags & bubble wrap to HorseSpirit Arts Gallery (8600 Foundry Street, Savage, MD). Packaging material must be in good condition. 

*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 Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill 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 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 (toasters, mixers, toaster ovens, coffee makers, etc.) to the scrap metal area at the Residents' Convenience Center 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.


Benefit charitable organizations by donating vehicles to groups such as Wheels for Wishes, Kars4Kids or Goodwill. Or, sell it to SellMax or Junk Car Medics for proper recycling and some cash!

Baby & Kid's Items

Donate usable items, such a strollers and high chairs to a local charity or second-hand store, or contact 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 Remove the padding from a car seat and recycle the plastic part with curbside recycling or at the Residents' Convenience Center 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) and REI Columbia.


Bring reusable bicycles to the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill 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. Any non-reusable bike can be recycled with scrap metal.

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 repair it.

Binders & Notebooks

Donate usable binders to your favorite charity. Prepare for Success has locations in Howard County. Spiral bound paper notebooks and binders are NOT acceptable in our curbside recycling program. 


Donate books to your local Howard County library. Check out MD Book Bank, 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 and to recycle and reuse used and unused bras. Bras can also be donated to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Purple Heart, Planet Aid, etc.

Brita Water Filters

Water filters are NOT acceptable in our curbside recycling program.

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 (free of plastic) can be recycled our curbside recycling program or at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill.


When shopping, ask contractors if they recycle used carpet. Visit the Carpet America Recovery Effort for details.

Carpet can be taken to Alpha Ridge Landfill to be disposed as trash (tip fee applies).

Car Seats

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.

CDs & DVDs and cases

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 for mail-in recycling programs.

Cell Phones

Recycle cell phones with Electronics at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill or take them back to your cell phone company. MOM's accepts them for recycling through Secure the Call. Also, visit or to get paid for recycling.

CFL Bulbs & Fluorescent Tubes

Please put incandescent and LED bulbs in your household trash and refer to the CFL recycling poster for proper disposal of other bulbs and tubes.

Christmas & Holidays Lights

Working lights can be donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Broken/dead strands can be taken to the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill and recycled with electronics (DO NOT put in your curbside recycling). Or, send them to or Christmas Light Source and receive a coupon for new lights. MOM's has a winter holiday light drop-off.

Christmas Trees

Undecorated artificial trees and wreaths can be recycled with scrap metal at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill.

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.

Clamshells (plastic)

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.

Please note: Howard County does NOT rely on the plastics numbering system (plastics numbers) to determine whether an item is recyclable in our curbside program. If you are unsure of an item, please refer to our detailed list of acceptable material in our curbside program. If you do not see a particular material listed, please email us ( a description and/or photo of the item and we will answer any questions that you have.


Donate clothing to local shelters or charities, such as Linwood Center, GreenDrop, Goodwill and Salvation Army. Or, bring gently used clothing to the Residents' Convenience Center at 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.

Dress Clothes

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.


During the spring, MOM's Organic Market hosts a Denim Drive for all types of denim including colored, embellished, and printed. Denim is recycled into insulation for charitable organizations to use in community housing projects. Clean, dry denim may be brought to MOM's only during the published dates. The rest of the year, denim can be taken to stores like Madewell, H&M, and Levi's.


Coffee Pods

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