Plastic bags—even if marked recyclable—are not accepted in the County's recycling program. Plastic bags of any type must not be used to set out recyclables for collection. These bags jam machinery at the single stream sorting facility. Many grocery stores will accept clean, dry plastic bags for recycling. It is recommended that you bring reusable bags with you when shopping to eliminate the need for plastic bags.
Learn more about plastic bags and other "tanglers."
In the County’s single stream recycling program, all acceptable recyclables may be mixed together in the same container for collection.
- Residents of single-family homes—View your collection schedule and set-out guide to learn how to place recyclables out for collection.
- Residents of apartments and condominiums—Check with your property manager for details on how recycling collection works in your community.
The County currently does not provide recycling containers, mainly to avoid incurring County expenses in these tight fiscal times. Learn about the variety of acceptable recycling containers.
Baltimore County has made stickers available for residents that may be affixed to containers as another way to designate that the containers are being used exclusively for recycling. These stickers are not in any way required to participate in the single stream recycling program. Stickers for recycling containers are available free of charge at the following locations:
- Baltimore County public libraries—We encourage residents to call ahead to a library before visiting to ensure that they have a supply of container stickers.
- Baltimore County’s three trash and recycling drop-off centers
- Contact or visit our Solid Waste Management office
Types of Materials
Below are the basic five categories of materials accepted in Baltimore County’s single stream recycling program. By focusing on these common and often valuable materials, you're helping the environment and the County's bottom line.
If an item does not belong in any of these categories, or if you’re not sure, you can help to minimize recycling contamination by following this rule—"when in doubt, throw it out (in the trash).”
- Most paper, paperboard and cardboard
- "Clean" parts of pizza boxes
- Juice boxes
- Milk cartons
- Paper items coated in wax
- Paper towels/napkins
- Shredded paper
The following items, either with any recycling "number" or no number:
- Antifreeze containers
- Motor oil containers
- Plastic bags
- Foam packaging
- Foam/clam-shell containers
- Aerosol cans (must be empty)
- Food and beverage cans
- Pie tins
- Pesticide cans
- Spray paint cans
Rigid items made only of plastic, i.e.
- Flower pots
- Lawn furniture
Baltimore County asks residents with unwanted household electronics to:
- First, contact electronics manufacturers or retailers to inquire about an electronics take-back or recycling program. Some may have convenient programs for recycling electronics that are free or low-cost.
- View information about electronics recycling from the Maryland Department of the Environment, including a list of registered electronics manufacturers.
- Donate unwanted electronics to a charity or reuse organization. Be sure to contact the organization first to ensure that the material they plan to donate will be accepted. For contact information, consult the Baltimore County Reuse Directory.
Accepted Household Electronics
Baltimore County residents may also drop off the following household electronics for recycling at all three County drop-off facilities:
- Audio equipment
- Cables, cords and communication wires
- Central Processing Units (CPUs), laptops and servers
- Computer accessories and peripherals (including mice, keyboards, power supplies, scanners and printers)
- Computer parts (including circuit boards, chips, cards and hard drives)
- Music playing devices
- Smartwatches and fitness trackers
- Tablets and e-readers
- Televisions and monitors are accepted for disposal only. Alternatively, there are several manufacturer take-back locations that specifically accept televisions and monitors for recycling.
Note: No business or institutional materials will be accepted.
Effects of Plastic Bags and Other "Tanglers"
Malfunctions can occur when plastic bags and other "tanglers"—long or stretchy items, such as plastic bags, clothing, linens, rope, electrical cords and chains—get caught in the equipment at the Materials Recovery Facility. These items bring the whole operation to a full stop, which wastes time and money, and endangers workers. Even if a plastic bag is marketed as "for recycling," "recyclable" or "compostable," it is not acceptable as a recycling container in Baltimore County.
Visit abagslife.com or plasticfilmrecycling.org to find local retailers that will accept plastic bags for recycling.