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Trash Collection


Mark Kreis, Chief
6751 Gateway Drive
Columbia, MD 21046
410-313-6444


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Did you know? 

  • Trash collected from Howard County homes is transported to a private landfill in Virginia.
  • There are several private companies under contract with Howard County that pick up trash and recyclables from County homes.
  • County inspectors monitor over 78,000 homes for curbside and dumpster trash service, 5 days a week.

We welcome input from residents on any problems or compliments concerning your trash pick-up service.



General Tips


Is it really trash? We're hard on ourselves and assume nobody wants our junk, but people love to have used items...See a donation directory for pick-up and drop-off options.


PLEASE remember your 4's when placing trash and recyclables out for collection...

  • 4 item per week limit for TRASH. (Unlimited Recyclables)
  • Each item under 40 pounds. (No Weight Limit For Recycling Carts)
  • Each item less than 4 feet long.
  • Put out beFORE 6 am.

An item is a single bag, can or bundle. Put several small bags in one 30-gallon trash can (or a large trash bag) and it's only considered 1 item. Just remember the weight limit!

Because of safety and aesthetic concerns, please remove empty trash cans and recycling carts or bins from your curb (or grouping area) on your scheduled collection day.

Printable Trash Brochures 

English trash brochure     Spanish trash brochure     Korean trash brochure 



Curbside Collection


Once a week curbside collection of 4 items of trash is provided to residents living in single family homes, townhomes, most trailer parks and condominiums (apartments contract for their trash through private trash haulers). Property owners are charged a yearly $225 per house (with yard trim collection) and $210 (without yard trim collection) REFUSE COLLECTION CHARGE (on your tax bill) for this service. Call 410-313-6444 to find out your trash and recycling collection days.

The historic Ellicott City business district located on Main Street is also provided trash pick up service--please call 410-313-6444 for details on this specialized service.

What and How Much Will be Collected


Household trash which can be packaged to fit the size, weight and quantity restrictions below is accepted:

  • Four (4) items on each collection day. This includes up to four cans, bags or bundles.
  • Each can, bag or bundle must not exceed forty (40) pounds.
  • Bundles must be less than 4 feet in length, less than 18" in diameter and less than 40 pounds.

Prohibited Items


  • Liquids such as wet paint, cooking oil, chemicals and motor oil (which can leak from the collection truck and cause a mess).
  • Hazardous, toxic or flammable materials - asbestos, ammunition, explosives, dead animals, firearms, etc.
  • Car parts - tires, wheels or batteries.
  • Landscape and construction debris - dirt, rocks, stumps, concrete, sand, sod, drywall, lumber, plywood, etc.
  • Trash placed in County-provided recycling carts.
  • Cart-type containers larger than 40-gallons containing loose trash.
  • Yard trim may not be put out as trash during yard trim season in areas that receive curbside yard trim collection. Yard trim season is April 1st through the third week in January.

Bulk Items and Scrap Metal


    Bulk items (such as large appliances, mattresses, or large pieces of furniture) and scrap metal must be scheduled. Please call 410-313-6444 or visit our Bulk Item Collection webpage.

What Containers to Use


Residents may use reusable containers or disposable bags provided they meet the following criteria:

Reusable containers must be... 

  • Made of metal or tough plastic and equipped with handles and watertight, well-fitting lids.
  • Maximum 40-gallon capacity. If containers are larger than 40 gallons, each bag inside is counted as one item.
  • Cart-type containers larger than 40 gallons should not be used.
  • Kept clean and sanitary.  

Note: Reusable containers may be required in townhome communities or in areas where previous sanitation problems or rodent infestations have been identified.

Disposable trash bags must be... 

  • Heavy gauge plastic which can be picked up and carried without tearing.
  • Securely tied at the top to prevent spillage.

Note: The clean up of trash or recycling, especially in grouping locations, that is spilled and/or spread by animals or wind is the responsibility of the residents. 

When Collections Will be Made 


  • Items must be placed out after 6 p.m. the day before collection, or before 6 a.m. the day of collection.
  • Trash is collected at each residence once a week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pickup time may vary week to week.
  • Contractors will not return to collect trash set out after the truck has serviced the area.
  • Collections missed due to road closings will be made the next day if possible.  

Where to Place Trash for Collection


  • Single-family homeowners must set their trash to be collected within five (5) feet of the nearest public road fronting their home.
  • Place cans, bags, carts, etc. away from mail boxes 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.
  • Because of safety and aesthetic concerns, please remove empty trash cans and recycling carts or bins from your curb (or grouping area) on your scheduled collection day.

Inclement Weather


For collection information during inclement weather, click here. 

Holiday Schedule


For collection information during holidays, click here. 


Tips To Reduce your Trash by 50% or More!


  • DONATE We're hard on ourselves and assume nobody wants our junk, but people love to have used items...See a donation directory for pick-up and drop-off options.
  • RECYCLE unlimited quantities of acceptable recyclables on your recycling day each week. Remember: You can put your mixed paper, plastics, metal cans, cardboard and glass bottles & jars "All Together Now" in a recycling cart, bin or see-through bag; yard trim needs to be kept separate.
  • GRASSCYCLE by leaving your grass clippings on your lawn. This process provides free fertilizer for your lawn.
  • COMPOST grass, leaves, yard trimmings and select food waste to make a high grade soil.

Questions, Problems, Compliments or More Info?


(410) 313-6444 Trash & Recycling (weekdays 8:00 am - 5:00 pm)
help@HowardCountyRecycles.org to email questions 
Text the word Recycle and your question or comment to 99000


Drop-Off Location


You can drop off your trash and recycling at our Alpha Ridge Residents' Convenience Center.

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.