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.


Call: 410-313-6444


Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents' Convenience Center Virtual Tour

Familiarize yourself with the Residents' Convenience Center before you visit! Use this virtual tour to learn more about the many recycling opportunities available to Howard County Residents. Each scene provides detailed information about what is acceptable. Click on the 3D polygon in the top left corner to view in full screenPlease use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view.

Interested in a guided tour? Learn more about scheduling tours of the Residents' Convenience Center and Composting Facility.

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 (1)


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).



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.

Aluminum Foil/Bakeware

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.

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 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 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 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 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.

Binders & Notebooks

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, 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

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.


  • Clean, dry cardboard


  • food contaminated boxes such as greasy pizza boxes (these can be composted in the Feed The Green Bin program.)
  • 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")

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.

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

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 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 page 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 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 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.

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.



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.

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 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). 

Compressed Gas Tanks

Propane, helium & oxygen tanks and fire extinguishers are accepted at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Or, return tanks to the seller.

Construction & Demolition Debris

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.

Cooking Oil

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 for additional drop-off locations. Or, check out 11 ways to reuse corks.

Craft Supplies

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 or The Crayon Initiative to learn about a mail-in program for old crayons. Also see "Markers" below.

Curbside Recycling

  • You don't need to remove lids, caps, labels or rings, but please empty containers and rinse lightly, if needed. Items should be Clean. Empty. Dry.
  • Check your collection days
  • For more details and a list of what's accepted, visit our curbside recycling webpage.


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

Exercise Videos

Swap videos and DVDs on

Eye Glasses

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, 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

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.

Firearms & Ammunition

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

Food Delivery Packaging

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 

Food Scraps

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.

Food Squeeze Pouches

Terracycle offers various recycling programs for adult and baby food squeeze pouches and caps. Visit their website for more details.

Furnace Filters

Used furnace filters belong in the trash. If you have filters that are new, consider donating them to a charity such as Restore.

Furniture & Home Goods

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 Equipment

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

Glass Bottles & Jars

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.


Plastic Hangers

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.

Wire Hangers

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.

Health and Beauty Packaging

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge accepts used mascara wands during the months of October and February through its Wands for Wildlife program. Before mailing, wands must be washed in warm soapy water to remove residual mascara. For mail form and more details, please visit the Wands for Wildlife website.


Household Hazardous Waste

Visit our Household Hazardous Waste page.

Ink Cartridges

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

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. 

Light Bulbs

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.


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

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!

Medical & Rehabilitation Equipment

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


DO NOT flush unwanted medications down the toilet.


  • The Howard County Police Department and HC Drug Free have four medication disposal locations to assist residents in disposing of unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications safely and anonymously. These are available daily and year-round. They are located at the Northern District Station (3410 Courthouse Drive in Ellicott City), Southern District Station (11226 Scaggsville Road in Laurel), Community Outreach Building (10741 Little Patuxent Parkway) and Gary Arthur Community Center (2400 Route 97 in Cooksville). Questions? Call 410-313-3200.
  • Local pharmacies may offer take-back or mail-in programs. Rite Aid, CVS and Giant sell prepaid envelopes that can be mailed to a disposal facility.
  • Place pills or liquid in a plastic zip-top bag with coffee grounds, flour or kitty litter and put the bag in your regular trash. This makes the medicines undesirable and prevents toxins from contaminating our drinking water.
  • Looking outside of Howard County? Take advantage of DEA sponsored programs when available. Visit for dates and locations.
  • Visit an