Important Collection Information

The County provides curbside collection services to residences that pay a yearly trash and recycling fee ($391 per year) on their property tax bill. Fees for Main Street, Ellicott City may vary.

After your items are collected, we recommend removing empty collection containers from your curb (or grouping area) on your scheduled collection day to mitigate safety and aesthetic concerns.

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.


Curbside Collections




Recycling Containers

Howard County provides residents with one free recycling container for recycling collection ONLY. No yard trim or trash will be collected in these carts.

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. 

Contact us below for container repairs, replacements or purchases.

Need a wheel? Recycling cart wheels are available at Kendall Hardware (12260 Clarksville Pike) Clarks ACE Hardware Columbia (8895 McGaw Road) and our office (9801 Broken Land Parkway). Stop by to pick one up!

Rules & Restrictions

  • No plastic bags. Recycling must be set out in a County-provided recycling container, paper bag or cardboard box.
  • No yard trim or trash. Only recycling items will be collected in these carts.

Please note: Howard County does NOT rely on the plastics numbering system to determine whether an item is recyclable in our curbside program. If you are unsure of an item, please refer to our detailed 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.

Yes, we accept:

  • Paper-- newspaper, office paper, junk mail, milk & egg cartons
  • Plastic-- bottles, tubs, jugs, jars, trays, #5 plastics & large plastic items (playhouses, laundry baskets, etc.)
  • Metal cans-- aluminum, steel cans and EMPTY aerosol cans
  • Glass-- any color bottles or jars
  • Cardboard-- clean and flattened (remove plastic liners, waxed paper and Styrofoam packaging material) and less than 6' in width

No, we can't accept:

  • Acrylic plastic
  • Disposable "single-use" cups, plates, bowls, utensils (paper or plastic) See our dining & carryout guide on the right
  • Food stained cardboard or paper
  • Napkins, paper towels, tissues, thermal paper receipts
  • #1 Plastic clamshell packaging (food, toys, electronics, batteries, etc.)
  • Plastic bags or plastic-bagged material*
  • Plastic film, wrap, bubble wrap, or air bags*
  • Styrofoam*
  • "Tanglers"-- hangers, wires, hoses, cords
  • Textiles or clothing*
  • Window glass, ceramics, mirrors

*Visit our Know Before You Throw page to recycle these items.




Trash Containers

Residents must purchase cans as the County does not provide trash containers. Reusable containers must be made of metal or tough plastic, equipped with handles and watertight, well-fitting lids.

Rules & Restrictions

  1. County-provided recycling (blue) and food scrap (green) containers cannot be used.
  2. Up to four (4) cans, bags or bundles will be collected weekly on your trash day.
  3. Each item must weigh less than 40 pounds. Bundles may not exceed 4' in length, 18" in diameter.
  4. If the container is larger than 40 gallons, each bag inside is counted as one item.
  5. Disposable trash bags must be heavy gauge plastic that can be picked up and carried without tearing. Securely tie the top to prevent spillage.
  6. The clean-up of trash or recycling, especially in grouping areas, that is spilled and/or spread by animals or wind is the responsibility of the residents.

No, We CAN'T Accept:

  • Car parts (tires, wheels, batteries, etc.)
  • Construction debris (concrete, drywall, lumber, carpet/rug, fencing, cabinets, appliances, etc.)
  • Sinks and toilets
  • Containers larger than 40-gallon containing loose trash will not be serviced
  • Electronics including laptops, computer monitors, TVs, motorized toys, chairs with electric plugs, etc.
  • Hazardous, toxic or flammable materials: asbestos, ammunition, explosives, compressed gas tanks, dead animals, firearms, medical waste, etc.
  • Landscape debris (dirt, rocks, stumps, sod, etc.)
  • Liquids (paint, cooking oil, chemicals, motor oil, etc.) Other liquids are prohibited.
  • Mirrors/plate glass
  • Paint cans (unless completely empty or dried with the lid off)
  • Rechargeable batteries

Yard Trim


Yard Trim Containers

Use reusable open-top containers (no County-issued recycling carts or bins) or paper bags. Reusable containers should be lid-less at set-out. No plastic bags.

Rules & Restrictions

  1. Yard trim will not be collected as trash during yard trim collection season in areas that receive curbside yard trim collections.
  2. Tie brush and branches using string or twine. Bundles may not exceed 4' in length, 18" in diameter.
  3. Cans, containers, paper bags and bundles must weigh less than 40 pounds.
  4. Yard trim in plastic bags will not be collected.

Yes, we accept:

  • Bamboo
  • Brush/weeds (except Japanese Stiltgrass)
  • Grass
  • Hedge clippings/light brush
  • Leaves
  • Seed pods (pine cones, sour gum balls, etc.)
  • Small limbs or branches less than 4" in diameter and 4' in length

No, we can't accept:

  • Japanese Stiltgrass (new!)
  • Bushes with root bases attached
  • Logs over 4" in diameter or 4' in length
  • Stumps
  • Dirt/soil/mulch
  • Yard trim mixed with trash or other materials
  • Yard trim placed in plastic bags, recycling carts or wheelbarrows

Other Yard Trim Options


Food Scraps


Food scrap collection is available to certain areas of the county through our Feed the Green Bin program. 


Bulk Item/Scrap Metal


Residents who receive County collections are eligible for bulk trash and scrap metal pickups. Bulk trash items can be set out on regular trash collection days. Scrap metal pickups must be scheduled.

Please note that all Howard County residents can take bulk trash and scrap metal to Alpha Ridge Landfill for recycling or disposal.

Bulk trash is not recycled.

Rules & Restrictions

  1. Items must be placed at the curb within 5 feet of County roadway by 6am alongside trash containers.
  2. Do not block mailboxes, fire hydrants or cars.
  3. Maximum of 4 bulk trash items per pickup.
  4. Items must be less than 6 feet in width.
  5. Items too large to be lifted by two workers will be tagged and left for resident's disposal

Plastic Items

Bulk plastic items such as playhouses & play sets (disassembled), totes, sheds (disassembled), lawn furniture and coolers can be recycled at the curb on your regular recycling day. Unlimited amounts of recycling will be accepted. See our Rigid Plastics poster for more information.

Trash Items

Remember: Bulk trash items collected by the County will be sent to a landfill. Please consider donating before disposal. One person's trash is another's treasure!

Metal Items

Rules & Restrictions

  1. Bulk scrap metal items must be scheduled
  2. No items with batteries are accepted. Batteries must be removed from any lawnmowers, scooters, or other battery-operated devices. See below for all prohibited items.
  3. Items must be less than 10 feet in length or width.
  4. Only two collections may be scheduled per year.

Please contact the Bureau of Environmental Services to schedule. Bulk metal items include metal swing sets, file cabinets, appliances, lawn mowers, exercise equipment, etc. Please remove doors from refrigerators, and drain oil and gas from lawn mowers. Restrictions may apply.

NOTE: It is illegal for anyone except Howard County's contractors to pick-up scrap metal at the curb (Howard County Code 18.610)

No, we can't accept:

  • Aquarium tanks
  • Batteries               
  • Drum containers              
  • Carpet/rugs      
  • Chairs with electric plugs            
  • Compressed gas tanks*              
  • Computer monitors**  
  • Construction & demolition debris  
  • Fuel & oil tanks
  • Medical Waste 
  • Mirrors/plate glass   
  • Moon bounces 
  • Motorized toys*
  • Pallets    
  • Picnic tables (wooden) 
  • Playhouses/swing sets (wooden)
  • Sleeper sofas
  • Stumps and logs*           
  • Tires*  
  • TVs**

*These items can be recycled at Alpha Ridge Landfill.

**Electronics can be recycled at Alpha Ridge Landfill or through customer take-back programs. 



When is my collection day?


Recycling, yard trim and trash is collected once a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pickup time may vary. Items must be placed out after 6 p.m. the day before collection or before 6 a.m. the day of collection.


Where do I place items for collection?

  • Single-family homeowners must set items to be collected within five (5) feet of the nearest public road fronting their home.
  • Place cans, bags, carts, etc. away from mailboxes on the opposite side of the driveway, if possible.
  • Residents of townhome communities without garages are required to "group" items in designated areas accessible to the collectors such as the curb end of grass islands or at the end of parking areas. Do not block mailboxes or fire hydrants.
  • 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.

Which holidays affect my curbside collections?


No curbside collections on the following 6 holidays:

  • New Year's Day
  • Labor Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Independence Day
  • Christmas Day

Please remember, all items to be collected must be out by 6 a.m. on the day of collection. 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.


How should I place materials out for donation?


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 trash collection.


How does inclement weather impact curbside collections?


While the County makes every effort to provide uninterrupted scheduled curbside trash, recycling, yard trim and food scraps collection services, these collections may at times experience service delays or cancellations due to severe inclement weather. When inclement weather is in the forecast, the Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Environmental Services monitors the weather and road conditions to determine if it is safe for crews to operate and if collections need to be delayed or cancelled. The safety of county residents and collection crews is the Bureau’s number one priority when making this determination. 

The Bureau strives to make a decision regarding the continuation, delay or cancellation of curbside collection by 5:30 a.m. Once a decision has been made, the Bureau shares this information on its voicemail system, through its email list serve (click HERE to sign-up), on the County’s main social media pages (Facebook and X), on the Bureau’s X page and on the County’s website. If collections are cancelled for the day, the Bureau’s slide schedule will be implemented. When the slide schedule is in effect, collections will slide by one day (e.g., if Monday collections are cancelled, Monday will slide to Tuesday, Tuesday to Wednesday, Wednesday to Thursday and so forth).

To stay in the know when potential inclement weather is forecasted, be sure to visit the Bureau’s “Curbside Collections” website, County social media pages (Facebook and X) or sign up for the Bureau's email blasts for the most up-to-date guidance on curbside collections and more.

Test your skills

Is that recyclable? Trash? Household Hazardous Waste?

Play our Know Before You Throw Sorting Game to find out. Click and drag materials to the correct bin and test your skills!

know before you throw sorting game

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