Effective Saturday, June 15, 2019, Howard County’s Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Environmental Services will no longer accept curbside recycling placed in plastic bags. Items placed out for recycling, should be loose in the county assigned recycling bin/cart. Any plastic bagged recyclables will not be collected curbside.
Residents with County-provided service will be receiving a postcard in the mail alerting them of this change.
Plastic bags and plastic film foul machinery, getting wrapped around recycling equipment and jamming the screens. Small plastic fragments also become air- and water-borne litter. Due to these factors, our contracted processor will not accept any plastic bags. This includes loose and bundled plastic bags. See below for a map of recycling locations. The regional marketplace has contributed to this change.
In addition, the Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents' Convenience Center will no longer accept items for recycling bagged in plastic. If you choose to transport your items in a plastic bag, please empty your items into the recycling compactor and take the bag with you.
Check out this handy map of places in Howard County that accept plastic bags for recycling.
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 so stuff doesn’t fall out the bottom, 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 email@example.com 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 a 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.
13.5”H x 27.75”W x 17.6”D 39”H x 20”W x 23”D 41”H x 27”W x 28”D
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 this will be confusing to collection crews and 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.
Print this graphic for a handy reference of what should be recycled at the curb. Check below for items that aren't collected in your curbside bin. Still not sure about an item? Think basics and remember what "we used to do" before all the fancy packaging came around. Bottles, cans, cardboard and paper. For more details, please visit our curbside recycling collection webpage
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 or Goodwill.
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. 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 Terracycle's Brita Brigade recycling program to earn money for your local organizations. Win Win! 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.
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.
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 compost area, or to MOM's who uses private haulers for collection (varies by store). Check their website for details.
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.
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. My Organic Market (MOM's) also does an annual electronics drive.
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.
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.
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.
Any color glass bottles & jars can be recycled in your curbside recycling or taken to the Alpha Ridge Convenience Center (just show your driver's license). Please remeber 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 on Davis Road (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. Please check their website for details and dates.
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), Stairglides, 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 Alpha Ridge Landfill 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. Shells can also be taken to the Robinson Nature Center.
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.
Plastic bags & plastic film should be taken to a grocery or retail store for recycling (see map above for locations). This option ensures that the items stay clean and dry and can be recycled. Why can'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.
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.
The charge for asphalt shingle disposal at Alpha Ridge Landfill is the commercial 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.
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 and added to your curbside recycling. Why bagged? Loose shredded paper is like confetti and will make a mess at the facility.
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 Baltimore accepts good condition golf equipment to help Baltimore's 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 Styrofoam™ website for restrictions. Some UPS stores collect Styrofoam for reuse/recycling.
Styrofoam™ peanuts can't be recycled at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Local packing and shipping stores may accept them for reuse. Just ask!
Certain items that we call ‘Tanglers’ are recyclable, but not in our curbside recycling bin/cart program. While these items MUST BE KEPT OUT of recycling bins and carts, there are ways to recycle or reuse even some of the worst Tanglers. Christmas tree lights can be taken to the Alpha Ridge Landfill and other retail stores (see Christmas & Holiday Lights section), power cords and extension cords can be brought to the Alpha Ridge Landfill and recycled as electronic scrap, wire hangers can be returned to dry cleaners for reuse, and plastic bags and plastic film can be returned to local grocery stores.
Donate old tennis balls to your local nursing/retirement community to be used on the feet of walkers. Or, start a collection drive and send them to Rebounces or Project Green Ball which can reuse and recycle the balls.
Purchase a zero waste boxes and you can recycle everything. Choose the box that suits your needs.
Recycle automobile and truck tires at the Alpha Ridge Residents' Convenience Center. (Commercial haulers see Landfill Fee Schedule). ARL does not accept tires on rims, tires over 4' in diameter or over 15" in width. NOTE: Rims can be recycled in the scrap metal container. Limit of 4 tires per year.
Donate frayed/stained towels and linens to your local animal shelter (PetFinder.com) or check out these other