About

Our Know Before You Throw campaign is designed to assist Howard County residents and businesses with sorting their waste properly. Before you toss something, check our list to see if it can be reused, recycled or donated.

Is something missing from our list? Let us know as we continue to keep our page up to date.

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Know Before You Throw

Is something missing from our list? Let us know as we continue to keep our page up to date.
Material
Description
#1 Plastic Clamshells

At this time, Waste Management is unable to recycle #1 plastic clamshells (typically used for salad, berry and other produce containers) due to the way they are manufactured. While we wait for technology and markets, avoid purchasing items in clamshells and consider reusing to keep those clamshells out of the trash.

NEW! Waste Management is now accepting ALL #5 plastics, including #5 clamshells. If it has a #5, it goes in the blue bin!

Clamshell Reuse Ideas

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.

American Flags

American Flags can be retired at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill.

Representatives from the American Legion Adams, Hanna, Moore Memorial Post 156, retrieve the flags and dispose of them in a dignified fashion as required by the U.S. Flag Code. Ceremonies are conducted in coordination with local Scout troops.

Antifreeze

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. Please leave container for attendant to empty.

Antiques

Have older items that you think may be valuable? Check out our Donation Directory or nearby consignment stores to resell those items.

Housewerks Salvage

TIAS

Appliances

Working appliances should be reused/donated.

For non-working appliances, schedule a Scrap Metal Collection or take appliances (toasters, mixers, toaster ovens, coffee makers, microwaves, 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.

Batteries must be removed from any lawnmowers, scooters, or other battery-operated devices.

Art & Craft Supplies

Certain arts & craft supplies can be taken to SCRAP Creative Reuse Bmore, 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.

Ash

Ash is not acceptable for curbside trash due to the potential fire hazard. Fireplace, grill and cigarette ash can be disposed at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Please be sure that ash has cooled before disposal.

Automobiles

Many charitable organizations accept donated cars or trucks.

Cars2Charities

Wheels for Wishes

Baby & Kid's Items

Buy and sell kid's items using online consignment shops or the local Once Upon a Child store.

Have unused diapers or wipes? Donate them to the Howard County Diaper Project through The Office of Children & Families.

Batteries

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 poster. Many different types of batteries can also be dropped off at MOMs and REI Columbia.

Battery Recycling Poster

Bicycles

Bring your bicycles to the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill and give those bikes another life! Look for the Reusable Bicycle shed. Bikes are collected with help from the Glenwood Lions Club (donated to Bikes for the World) and Free Bikes 4 Kidz Maryland (small bikes and trikes refurbished for local children in need). Even if your bike isn't in good condition, volunteers can often refurbish it or use parts from it to refurbish other bikes.

Books

Gently used hard & soft cover books can be taken to our drop-off at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill or other charitable organizations listed below. Torn or damaged books can be recycled with curbside recycling collection. 

Bras

Check our Donation Directory or these links to recycle and reuse used and unused bras. 

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).

Car Seats

Donate usable items, such a strollers and high chairs to a local charity or second-hand store like The Birthing Circle.

Have an old car seat? Check out Target's Car Seat Trade-In program. Or remove the padding from the car seat to recycle the plastic part with curbside recycling or at the Residents' Convenience Center Alpha Ridge Landfill.

Cardboard

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 (must be flattened to under 6' in width) or at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill.

Carpets & Rugs

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

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

Carry Out Containers

Not all containers are recyclable. Check out our guide for correct disposal of carry out/take out food containers. Our Sustainable Shopping page is a great resource to help navigate packaging, ecolabels and confusing recycling symbols.

Carry Out Packaging Poster

CDs & DVDs & Cases

This media is NOT recyclable curbside or at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Try donating through our Donation Directory first. Or try GreenDisk's mail-in recycling option.

Cell Phones

Recycle cell phones and chargers 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 Swappa, or Green Buyback to get paid for recycling.

CFL Bulbs & Fluorescent Tubes

Incandescent and LED light bulbs are NOT acceptable in curbside recycling and should be placed in your household trash. Please refer to the CFL recycling poster for proper disposal of other bulbs and tubes.

CFL Recycling Poster

Christmas & Holidays Lights

Broken or dead strands and extension cords can be taken to the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill and recycled with electronics (DO NOT put in your curbside recycling). See our poster for additional recycling options.

Holiday Lights Recycling Poster

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 Wood Waste Area at Alpha Ridge Landfill. During the holiday season, visit our Merry Mulch webpage for drop-off sites.

Clothing

See our Donation Directory for local options.

Or, bring gently used clothing to the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill for donation. 

Coffee Pods

At this time, coffee pods are NOT acceptable in curbside recycling. However, the coffee inside the pods can be composted in your backyard compost pile.

Coffee pods companies Keurig & Nespresso both offer recycling solutions for their products. 

Terracycle also offers a mail-in program for all coffee pods, discs and capsules. 

Compressed Gas Tanks

Propane, helium & oxygen tanks and fire extinguishers (empty or filled) are accepted at Residents' Convenience Center 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 page for what to do with debris material (drywall, sheetrock, siding, etc.) you no longer need.

Cooking Oil

Used cooking oil can be recycled at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Check out our cooking oil poster for more information.

Cooking Oil Poster

Corks

Recycle wine corks in the lobby of the Roger Carter Center in Ellicott City.

You can also take corks to My Organic Market (MOM's) 

Visit recork.org for additional drop-off locations. 

Crayons

Crayons are NOT acceptable in curbside recycling.

For mail-in recycling programs, please visit:

Electronics

Residents may recycle many electronics at Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill or at these participating retail stores:

Electronics Recycling Poster

Eye Glasses

Donate old glasses so they can be worn rather than take up drawer space.

or check your local eye doctor.

EZ-Passes

If you have an old EZ-Pass, please return it to a drop box at an EZ-Pass Customer Service Location.

Or, bring the pass to a Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Day at the Alpha Ridge Landfill (Saturdays ONLY, April-November).

Firearms & Ammunition

For proper disposal of ammunition, please contact 

Learn how to dispose of Unwanted Firearms

Flexible Packaging

Flexible plastic packaging like snack bags, chip bags, pouches and wrappers are NOT recyclable in our curbside recycling program. However, Terracycle offers various recycling programs for these items. 

Food Scraps

Compost items such as banana peels, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and egg shells to make a nutrient-rich soil.

Pickup up a FREE backyard compost bin to get started or participate in our Feed the Green Bin Food Scrap Collection program. If your area doesn't receive collection (yet), you can drop-off food scraps at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill for composting or take those food scraps to My Organic Market (MOM's) which offers composting as well! 

Private Food Scrap Collection Services:

Furnace Filters

Used furnace filters  cannot be recycled and should be disposed in your household trash. If you have filters that are new, consider donating them to a charity such as Habitat for Humanity 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.  Check out our Donation Directory for local options. If your items are truly trash and have no life left, we can accept them for bulk trash.

 

Garden Equipment

Freetown Farm 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 Chiara at Freetown Farm.

Glass

Recycle any color food or drink glass bottles & jars in your curbside recycling or at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Please remember that glass must be Clean. Empty. Dry.

We do not accept window glass, drinking glasses, mirrors, ceramics, crystal, CorningWare or Pyrex.

Grills

Grills can be recycled with scrap metal. Contact our office to schedule a collection.

Recycle your grill at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. 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.

Hair & Fur

Hair Donations

There are many charitable organizations that accept hair donations to be made into wigs. Before donating, please research organizations and check guidelines/qualifications for donations.

Hair & Fur Donations

A Matter of Trust accepts hair, fur and fleece donations in any amount. The fibers are felted into mats that are used by hazmat teams in oil spill cleanups. 

Hangers

Plastic Hangers

Plastic hangers are not recyclable because they can jam processing equipment at the recycling plant. Contact your local donation center to see if they need hangers. Reuse is the best option.

Wire Hangers

Wire hangers are not acceptable in curbside recycling but can be recycled with scrap metal at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Consider contacting your local dry cleaner to see if they take back wire hangers or reuse them with these great craft ideas. 

Health & Beauty Packaging

Consider donating unopened beauty products. Used or empty products can be donated through Nordstrom's BEAUTYCYCLE program. Mascara wands can be donated to Wands For Wildlife.

Household Hazardous Waste

Corrosive, flammable, reactive or toxic products, found in most homes, garages & workshops, are considered Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). Learn how to properly dispose of these items on our HHW website.

Ink Cartridges

Donate

Donate ink and toner cartridges to Animal Advocates of Howard County to support Howard County Animal Control.

Recycle with cartridge retailers like Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, and Walgreens.

Some offer an incentive coupon. There are also mail-back programs including Dell and Quill.

Jeans

MOM's hosts an annual denim drive every spring.

Donate jeans to Blue Jeans Go Green or your favorite charity.

Masks & Gloves (PPE)

Masks, gloves and other PPE are NOT acceptable in our curbside recycling program. Please dispose of these items in your curbside trash.

Mattresses & Box Springs

Mattresses & box springs can be recycled at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill or through Ikea's mattress recycling program.

Mattresses & box springs may be picked up with bulk trash collection, but will NOT be recycled. Consider recycling them to give them a chance to be made into something new! 

Medical & Rehabilitation Equipment

In coordination with the Loan Closet of Howard County residents can now drop-off durable, reusable medical equipment at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. 

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 or to The American Sleep Association.

Medication & Sharps

Proper disposal of unwanted medications and used needles and sharps is crucial. To learn more, please download our Medication & Sharps poster.

Medication & Sharps

Metal

Metal food and drink cans and EMPTY aerosol cans are accepted in curbside recycling or at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. All other scrap metal items (pots, pans, hangers, etc.) must be scheduled or dropped off at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill.

Oil & Filters

Motor oil, oil filters and hydraulic oils (brake, transmission or power steering) can be taken to the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. 

Oyster Shells

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. 

Paint

Please see our paint recycling poster for information on recycling or disposing of old paint.

Paint Recycling Poster

Paper

For a complete list of acceptable recyclable paper, please see our Curbside Collections page.
 

Pet Food Bags

Animal feed or bird seed bags are not acceptable in curbside recycling.
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.

Plastic Bags & Film

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - in that order. Use reusable bags so you have fewer plastic bags. If you can't reuse, then recycle at a participating retail store.

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? 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. 

Map of Plastic Bag Recycling Locations

Plastic Film Recycling

Plastic Items

Certain plastics are accepted in our curbside recycling program and at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. Plastic material should be clean, empty and dry before recycling.

Pumpkins & Gourds

You can add your carved and uncarved pumpkins and gourds to your curbside food scrap collection. Or, take them to the food scrap drop-off at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill.

Attend a Harvest Heap event to drop off pumpkins and learn about backyard composting.

Receipts

Many store receipts are printed on thermal paper, a shiny smooth paper that allows for printing via heat transfer instead of ink. These receipts are difficult to recycle and are NOT accepted in our curbside collection program.

Opt for digital or paperless receipts whenever possible to cut down on the amount of thermal receipts generated.

Rigid Plastics

See our Rigid Plastics poster for recycling information for larger plastics like kid's playsets, laundry baskets, plastic buckets, etc.

Rigid Plastics Recycling Poster

Roofing Shingles

Consider reuse options first.

As a last resort, shingles can be disposed for a charge at Alpha Ridge Landfill (see our page for tip fee rate).

Shipping Material

Download our guide to help you navigate proper disposal and recycling of shipping and packaging materials. Don't see an item on our poster? Contact us and we'll let you know how it should be handled!

For specific questions regarding Amazon packaging, please visit their website.

Certain items like Styrofoam peanuts, air pillows 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.

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

Shoes

If shoes are useable, consider an organization in our Donation Directory or a shoe collection program.

Shredded Paper

Think before you shred! Don't shred documents unnecessarily. Once you have shredded paper, you can use it in your garden.

Shredded paper can also be placed in a paper bag (no plastic bags), stapled shut, and added to your curbside recycling. Why in a paper bag? Loose shredded paper is like confetti and will make a mess at the facility.

Attend a Shredding Event

Silicone

Silicone kitchen items and bakeware cannot be recycled in Howard County. However, Terracycle offers brand-specific (Ziploc and Stasher) mail-in recycling options.

Smoke Detectors

Howard County currently doesn't have a separate collection for smoke detectors. According to the EPA, they may be placed in your regular trash.

Soap

Hotels and bed & breakfasts can register with Clean the World's soap recycling program! On a smaller scale, consider these soap reuse ideas.

Sport Equipment

Trade or sell sports equipment at Play It Again Sports.

Donate to Good Sports Equip-A-Kid program.

Golf Clubs: The First Tee of Howard County accepts good condition golf equipment to help Howard County children gain valuable life skills.

Stuffed Animals

Donate stuffed animals, blankets and other items to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE).

Styrofoam™

Styrofoam™ products are NOT acceptable in our curbside recycling program.
Please visit the EPS Industry Alliance for other recycling opportunities that may be available.

Tennis Balls

Howard County's Department of Recreation & Parks has launched a Pilot Tennis Ball Recycling Program at Centennial Park. Collection bins are located at the West and North Tennis Courts.

Coordinate a collection drive through Rebounces or RecycleBalls.

Tires

Recycle automobile and truck tires at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill. (Commercial haulers see Landfill Fee Schedule).

We do 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.

Vacuum Cleaners

If the vacuum still works, please consider donating it to an organization in our Donation Directory. If the vacuum cannot be fixed, recycle it with Electronics at the Residents' Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill.

VHS, CDs, DVDs

These are NOT acceptable in our curbside recycling program.

Usable VHS tapes, cassette tapes, CDs or DVDs may be able to be donated to your local library or charity.

Visit Greendisk.com for mail-in recycling programs. 

Wedding Dresses

Consider donating your wedding dress and accessories locally to Cherie Sustainable Bridal in Savage or these other charitable organizations.

Wood

Untreated wood and lumber can be taken to the Wood Waste Area at Alpha Ridge Landfill for recycling into mulch.

Treated wood/lumber and railroad ties should be taken to Alpha Ridge Landfill and will be considered Construction & Demolition Debris, which is not recyclable and will be charged a tip fee.

X-rays

Some radiology offices will accept old x-rays for recycling, check with yours! Or Accurate Recovery Systems offers mail-in recycling.

Yard Trim

For guidelines on recycling yard trim (brush, branches, leaves, etc.) visit our Curbside Collections page.

Try another keyword or contact us for assistance

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