Howard County Expands Green Bin Program

March 2024

Howard County expanded access to its Feed the Green Bin program to more than 4,000 additional households in parts of Laurel, Savage, and Annapolis Junction in March, extending the free curbside food scraps pickup program to more than 48,000 households countywide.

“Howard County leads in the fight against climate change through a commitment to environmental protection and a focus on energy independence,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Our Feed the Green Bin curbside food waste pickup program is a win-win for the county, our residents, and the environment. The program offers households in eligible trash service zones the ability to separate food waste from other garbage and recyclables for weekly curbside pickup – at no additional charge. Every effort to reduce our environmental footprint makes us healthier and greener as a community. With this further expansion of our collections, thousands more residents can join us in reducing waste.”

Residents of the newly covered areas are eligible to select one of three food scrap cart size options (12-gallon, 35-gallon, and 65-gallon) per household. Carts are expected to be delivered at the end of April, with collection services beginning thereafter.

Howard County is on target to collect approximately 425 tons of food scraps in 2024. Collected material is processed at the recently expanded Howard County Composting Facility to produce quality compost for sale to residents and commercial entities. The new 34,720 sq. ft. Organic Receiving Building was brought online last Fall after a $5.6 million investment.

“It’s been a source of pride for me to see this program grow from an idea to the impactful resource it is today,” said Mark DeLuca, Chief, Bureau of Environmental Services, Department of Public Works. “The enthusiasm of our community fuels the continued expansion of Green Bin service.”

The first food scrap “mini pilot” was launched in 2010, followed by an expanded pilot program in 2013 offered to a 5,000-household collection route in the Ellicott City and Elkridge area. The pilot was well-received and roughly 1,750 households signed up for green bins. Today, nearly 50 percent of eligible households choose to participate in the program and additional communities will be added as composting capacity at the landfill increases.

Organic waste makes up roughly 30 percent of the local solid waste stream. Diversion of food waste from decomposition in landfills reduces methane emissions, which have 25 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide.

The Howard County Bureau of Environmental Services’ website provides details on items accepted by the composting program. Interested residents can easily find out if their address is in a Feed the Green Bin collection area and sign up for the program at Feed The Green Bin. Residents outside of the curbside collection zone can add their address to the Bureau of Environmental Services sign-up page to express their interest in another territory expansion. Residents can also sign up for a free backyard compost bin or drop off their food scraps to the Residents’ Convenience Center at Alpha Ridge Landfill.