Frequently Asked Questions
- Created: 27 August 2010
- Who can recycle curbside?
- Does it cost anything to recycle?
- What can I recycle at the curb in Frederick County?
- What are some things that can't be recycled curbside?
- What are some of the craziest things someone has tried to recycle?
- Are there other recycling programs- like for electronics or appliances?
- When is my curbside collection day?
- What holidays does the County not offer curbside recycling collection?
- What happens if it snows on my collection day?
- Is there some place else I can drop off my recyclables?
- Is there anything else I need to know to "recycle right"?
- What types of recycling containers do you offer?
- How do I get a recycling cart?
- Who owns the cart?
- How do I use the cart?
- What if I don't have enough room in the cart for all my recyclables?
- How can I tell what size recycling cart I have?
- How do I upsize my smaller cart for a bigger one?
- Why should I upsize my cart?
- Can I get a second container?
We offer curbside recycling to every single-family home in the county, including townhomes and row houses.
Recycling is an important part of Frederick County's overall integrated solid waste management plan. As such, it is funded through tipping fees charged at the landfill and through the System Benefit Charge all residents pay on their local tax bill. No general fund tax dollars are spent on the recycling program and there is no direct fee charged to participate in curbside recycling. All single-family homes are entitled to receive one recycling cart.
You can recycle more things in our single-stream recycling program than ever. You can fill your cart with more plastics than you can pronounce, glass, paper, cardboard, aluminum…seriously, the list is as long as the traffic on I-270 at rush hour! Just place your loose recyclables (not bagged) in your cart and at the curb and consider yourself "green"!
Want to ask about specific items? Get our free app and have all the answers you need, right at your fingertips! www.my-waste.mobi/FrederickMD
Residents can recycle a long list of items, collected loose, all in one container, including:
- Magazines, catalogs, junk mail and envelopes
- Newspapers, including all inserts (remove plastic delivery bag before placing in cart)
- Paper bags and craft paper
- Non-metallic, non-glittery wrapping paper, gift bags and cards
- Paperboard boxes, such as cracker and cereal boxes
- Thick papers, such as cardstock, file folders, etc.
- Corrugated cardboard (clean, not soiled...no greasy pizza boxes!)
- Books, including paperbacks, hardbacks and telephone books
- Office paper of all colors
- Shredded paper (*placed inside a paper bag, cardboard box, old cereal box, or similar paper container)
- Tetra packs - i.e., milk cartons, juice boxes and soy/rice milk/broth cartons
- Paperboard egg cartons (not clear plastic or foam cartons)
- Empty plastic containers and their lids, including narrow-neck bottles (such as water, soda, detergent, salad dressing, etc.) and wide-mouth containers (such as peanut butter jars, margarine tubs, yogurt containers, kitty litter buckets, prescription bottles, etc.) Lids should be left on empty containers.
- Plastic bags, such as grocery bags, newspaper bags and others marked with a #2 or #4 recycling ID code (*These are the only recyclable items that should be gathered together and placed inside a plastic bag for collection! Doing this keeps single, loose bags from getting caught in the sorting facility's machinery.)
Metal Cans & Containers
- Aluminum food and beverage containers
- Steel food and beverage containers (such as pet food, soup and vegetable cans)
- Clean aluminum foil and aluminum pie pans
- Empty aerosol cans
Glass Bottles & Jars
- Glass food and beverage containers (such as jelly jars and wine bottles); any color glass acceptable
- Lids can be left on as long as containers are empty
Materials placed out for collection inside plastic bags are not accepted. Remember: your items need to be LOOSE in the cart so they can be sorted for recycling! (The only exceptions to this are bags of shredded paper and bags of recyclable plastic bags.)
If you're not sure whether something is recyclable or not, you can always call (301-600-2960) or send us a message/photo on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/FrederickRecycles) but, our general motto is, "When in doubt, throw it out!". Thanks for helping to keep trash out of the recycling program!
Some common household items that are not recyclable at the curb include:
- Trash bags
- Disposable cups, plates and cutlery (like "Solo" cups)
- Paper towels/napkins
- Pizza boxes or other greasy, soiled cardboard or paper
- Ice cream cartons
- Food wrappers and bags, such as cellophane, any potato chip bags, candy wrappers, cereal/cracker box liner bags, etc.
- Cardboard cartons with plastic shrink wrap around them (such as for cases of bottled beverages; please discard the plastic wrap and recycle the cardboard)
- Anything made of "styrofoam" (expanded polystyrene), including egg cartons, cups, plates and packing materials
- Plastic or metal clothes hangers
- Microwaveable plastics (such as those that hold pre-made frozen dinners)
- Thin, brittle plastic containers (such as deli, salad bar, fruit and take-out food containers)
- Rubber products (such as hoses, rubber bands, etc.)
- Vinyl products- hard or soft (such as shower curtains, 3-ring binders, house siding, mini-blinds, etc.)
- Compostable or biodegradable packaging and products
- Plastic-lined paper bags, such as for pet food
- Plastic-lined padded/bubble envelopes or Tyvek envelopes
- Soiled paper of any kind (such as paper plates, coffee filters, etc.)
- Food and juice "pouches" (such as for Capri-Sun drinks or tuna)
- Non-packaging glass (such as drinking glasses, light bulbs, window glass, mirrors, etc.)
- Wooden items
- Ceramics and pottery
- Pots and pans
- Knives, forks, spoons (whether metal or plastic)
- Metal that is not packaging, such as: clothes hangers, shelving, cutlery, etc.
- Fabric, clothing, textiles
- Food or yard waste
- Any container that is not empty!
Plus, there are many more things that, while they can be recycled, are just not part of the curbside program (like appliances, tires, electronics, clothing, etc.) Read on below for more information.
Yes! Recycling in Frederick County is about much more than just boxes, bottles, jars and cans. But not everything can be collected at the curb. This website is dedicated to explaining and promotiong our awesome curbside, residential recycling program.
To find out how to recycle, reuse or properly dispose of: appliances, antifreeze, auto parts, clothing, electronics, flexible foam, hazardous waste, motor oil, scrap metal, tires, and more...visit the Department of Solid Waste Management's main website.
Believe us, we’ve seen it all. While there is a looooong list of "yeps" in our recycling program, there are also a lot of things you should NOT recycle. Everyday stuff like potato chip bags and Styrofoam and then of course the off-the-wall stuff like garden gnomes, boom boxes, shag carpets and last night's leftovers. And please, no diapers (eeeww!) Remember: when in doubt, throw it out! But really, there is so much you CAN recycle!
Putting the wrong kinds of things in your cart hurts the recycling program’s efficiency and overall value. While we might wish more things were recyclable, some things just are not. Maybe there is no market to sell them to. Or maybe the technology to process the materials just doesn’t exist yet. Or maybe they’ve just reached the end of their usefulness. When you’re not sure if something is recyclable or not, the bottom line is: when in doubt, please throw it out with your regular trash.
Curbside recycling collection occurs every other week.
To find out your collection days, visit www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/AtaGlance
- 1. Click the button for "Info At A Glance", then agree to the site terms.
- 2. Enter the street address in the search bar at the top of the page.
- 3. Right below the search box, click on the words “Recycle Calendar” next to the recycling symbol.
- 4. When the (small) box with your calendar pops open, click the "print/pdf" button to view or download a full-size version.
The current recycling calendar will appear as a pop-up on the screen. Recycling calendars can be viewed, exported as a PDF file and/or printed.
OR...download our free app for smart phones and tablet computers at www.my-waste.mobi/FrederickMD!
Occasionally, your designated collection day will fall on a County holiday. In this event, your recycling day will "slide" to the next day and all subsequent collection days will also be one day later than ususal that same week. "Slide" weeks happen around the following six holidays (most years):
- New Year’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Christmas Day
The County's recycling contractor, Allied Waste, will make reasonable attempts to collect your recyclables, but if safety is an issue, collection may be delayed or cancelled due to stormy weather. In cases of cancellation, attempts to collect will be made the following day. When shoveling snow off your driveway, carve out an accessable spot for that big blue cart too! To find out the status of curbside recycling on stormy days, check our Facebook page or listen to WFMD or KEY103 radio stations for announcements. You may also call 301-600-2960 for updated voice messages.
Yes! Maybe you threw a big party. Or maybe you missed a curbside collection day. Sometimes you just have more recyclables than your cart, garage or spouse can handle, we know, it can happen. That's why we have a free recycling drop-off site at the landfill (9031 Reichs Ford Road in Frederick) that accepts all single-stream recyclables. PLUS, this site also takes bulky rigid plastics (like plastic lawn chairs or picnic coolers), appliances, motor oil, antifreeze, carpet padding and any objects made of at least 75% metal.
Yes! To help make the collection and sorting processes work well, please take the following simple steps:
- Except for shredded paper and recyclable bags, all other recyclables should be loose inside your cart (never mixed inside a bag or set out in trash bags). Shredded paper goes inside a paper bag or cardboard box. Recyclable bags get gathered together inside one bag. Easy!
- Set your cart out by 6am of your collection day.
- The cart should be placed no more than 6 feet from the street and the barcode/cart number on the front should face the street (with the cart handle away from the street/towards your house).
- Whenever possible, carts should be set at least 4 feet away from trash cans and other obstructions such as mailboxes, cars and trees.
- Sign up for our free quarterly e-newsletter to get recycling info, event announcements and other tips:
Frederick County offers four recycling containers designed to fit every space. Every single-family home is eligible to receive one recycling container, free of charge. They include: 35-, 65- and 95-gallon wheeled models with lids, or 18-gallon open-top bins.
By choosing one of the larger cart sizes (65- or 95-gallon), you can easily recycle more and have the peace of mind that you’ll never have to throw "extra" recyclables in the trash. Residents with 35-gallon carts can up-size to a 65 or 95-gallon carts for free. Bigger carts can hold two to three-times more recyclables!
Simply choose which size best meets your needs...might we suggest a 95-gallon? It will hold lots of recyclables. Then click here to request a cart. It's that easy!
Recycling carts are the property of Frederick County government. Each cart is assigned to a household, not a person. So if you move, the cart stays put. But don’t worry, if you move to another single-family home in Frederick County, we’ll make sure you get a shiny, blue recycling cart there too!
It’s easy! Simply place all your mixed recyclables into the cart- no sorting or bundling required! Then take it to the curb no later than 6am of your designated collection day. When you set your cart out for collection, please place it at least 4 feet away from any possible obstructions (such as mailboxes, cars or trees) and within 6 feet of the street, so that our crews can safely and easily collect your recyclables.
Setting the cart on a level spot can help prevent it from tipping over. And not over-filling the cart definitely makes it less likely that your recyclables will become “fugitive waste”! Extra materials can be placed next to the cart in an open box or paper bag…but if you regulalryregularly have a lot to recycle, why not just up-size to a larger model? There’s no cost and it’s easy to do!
So, you recycle a lot. Then you should definitely consider up-sizing to a larger cart, for free (see below)! But maybe you just missed a collection day. Or maybe you had a party and have some extra stuff this week. OK, we understand.
If you have more stuff than the recycling cart can hold, excess materials can always be set out at the curb, next to a cart, inside an open container such as a cardboard box, paper bag, or any plastic tote/tub about the same size as the old 18-gallon recycling bins (even an old laundry basket could work!) If you use a plastic container, it's best to not put a lid on it, so that it can be plainly seen to contain recyclables. And it's really helpful if you go the extra mile and tape a sign on it that says, "RECYCLABLES", since so many folks also set out trash for collection on the same days as curbside recycling.
On the front of every cart is a serial number, imprinted in white. The first two numbers indicate what size the cart is, and will show either 35, 65 or 95, showing how many gallons of material your cart will hold. (To see an image of this, click here). If your cart says 35 or 65...upsize today!
The bigger your recycling cart, the more you can recycle. We offer three sizes of wheeled carts. If you have a smaller cart, you can up-size here for free. More recycling, less waste!
If you already have a cart, but would like to upsize to a larger one, click here. Residents with 35-gallon carts can up-size to a 65 or 95-gallon cart for free one time per year.
Residents can easily recycle at least two to three times more by upsizing their recycling cart to a larger size. You’ll be amazed at how much you can fit in your cart when you have enough space! And, as a bonus, you’ll be throwing away less which means you may be able to downsize that big trash can, giving you plenty of space for a larger recycling container.
Frederick County will provide each single-family household with one recycling container of their choice for free. If you have a lot of recyclables, upsize to a 95-gallon cart! If you still have more than your cart can hold, excess materials can always be set out at the curb, next to your regular cart, inside an open container such as a cardboard box, paper bag, plastic tub or even an old laundry basket!
One person, or family, really can make a difference! By participating in the Frederick County recycling program and recycling all that can be, you are making a real impact on the community while helping to preserve the environment.
Frederick County’s landfill is filling up and we are currently trucking the majority of our waste to an out-of-state landfill to be disposed. This system is costly, inefficient and unsustainable. Every ton of garbage we send fills up 3 cubic yards of landfill space. And right now we're averaging around 1,000,000 pounds of trash created every day in Frederick County. That's almost 7 pounds per person, per day. Ugh!
Environmental issues and "going green" have gotten a lot of attention lately. Everyone agrees that something must be done NOW to minimize the impact we are having on the environment. But what many may not know is that recycling is one of the easiest and cheapest ways for people to go green. Consider this:
- Every year, Americans trash over 180 BILLION tons of recyclable materials like newspapers and aluminum cans. That equals $6.4 billion dollars, 540 billion cubic yards of landfill space and $12 billion in lost energy!
- The EPA estimates 66 percent of the materials we trash every day could be recycled. Nationally, only about 25 percent is actually being recycled.
- Every year, we waste one billion trees by throwing away our newspapers and other paper products.
- Recycling 35 percent of our trash would reduce global warming emissions equal to taking 36 million cars off the road.
There are a lot of different ways to help the environment, but recycling is widely available in Frederick County and is easy to do. It’s all about finding what works for you and what fits with your lifestyle. You could also walk or bike to work, use reusable shopping bags when going to the grocery store, or buy recycled-content products. But it takes someone putting recyclables into their cart for those recycled-content products to get made!.
Recycling in Frederick County is simple and convenient. So, why not go green by using that big blue cart?
When you recycle, you are helping the environment in many ways, including conserving energy and water. Simply put, making stuff from your recyclables can use fewer resources than making stuff out of new raw materials. And we all know that every kilowatt and drop counts! Recycling also helps extend the life of our landfills, among other benefits.
- A ton of paper made from recycled fibers conserves 7,000 gallons of water.
- Recycling 5 lbs of paper will conserve enough water to "offset" the water used in a typical shower.
If Frederick County recycled just 10 percent more paper…
- We could save the equivalent of 688,942 trees.
- Save enough water to fill 12,482 swimming pools!
Recycling may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be if you set yourself up for success.
- For starters, is your current recycling cart big enough? The County offers three wheeled cart sizes (35-, 65- and 95-gallon) as well as an 18-gallon open top bin. So, if you find that your cart overflows with recyclables each week, try upsizing to a larger cart. You can do this here.
- Keep a smaller recycling container or bin in the kitchen pantry or by a trash can to make recycling convenient. Once the smaller bin is full, simply dump it into your larger recycling cart. (Or, if you use a bag to collect your recyclables, just empty it into your cart so that all the materials are loose, not bagged.).
- If you are unsure what is and isn’t recyclable, see above.
- Set out recycling bins in high-traffic areas at parties to encourage guests to recycle—and make your clean-up easier!
- Keep a small grocery bag in your car to bring in recyclables such as cans and water bottles so they don’t get trashed (just remember to shake out the bags into your cart so that only loose recyclables are collected.).
When you set your recycling cart out on your collection day, the fun is only just beginning. The crew who picks up your recyclables brings all of the materials collected on their route to the Frederick County transfer station. There, all of the county’s recyclables get mixed and loaded onto bigger, more fuel-efficient trucks. Then, items are hauled to a recycling sorting facility (called a Materials Recovery Facility or "MRF") in Elkridge, Maryland. There, they are processed and prepared for delivery to markets such as the various paper mills and plastic, glass or aluminum plants around the region. Often, recycled content is used to make new products; in the instance of the aluminum can, it can be back on store shelves as another can in as little as 60 days! This is called a "closed loop" process. For a child-friendly description of the recycling "loop", check out these materials developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In the fall of 2010 we began an education program called "Learn More, Recycle Better" to help folks navigate the "yeps" and "nopes" of curbside recycling- and encourage you to recycle more! Even those households that are already doing a stellar job (and there are a lot of you out there!) can always finesse their recycling skills a little.
An empty peanut butter jar IS recyclable in Frederick County, but a giant African elephant, who may enjoy the occasional peanut, ISN’T. Sound a bit unusual? Well, our education campaign has fun with these "is/isn’t" items while sending a serious message: that you can recycle more things than ever, so why not do it? And, when you learn more about what you can do, you’ll recycle better.
You are probably already helping if you put your recycling cart out at the curb on your designated collection day. If you’ve up-sized your cart recently, or plan to, that’s a huge help as well.
Other ways to help:
- If you have an elderly or disabled neighbor, you can offer to help them roll their recycling cart to the curb and back on collection day.
- You can spread the word about recycling in Frederick County and the "Learn More, Recycle Better" website to your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and professional or social organizations.
- Sign up for Frederick County’s e-newsletter to stay informed.
- Become a fan of Frederick County’s Facebook page and ask your friends and family to become fans as well.
- You can be a conscientious consumer. Before you buy anything, consider whether it can be recycled or reused in some way down the road.
- If nothing else, please just recycle. Every day!