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Recycling Programs

The St. Mary's County Recycling Program was established in 1992 to collect and recycle plastic, glass bottles, tin / steel / and aluminum cans at no charge to the residents. Commercial haulers may also bring recyclables to the convenience centers at no charge. Since that time, the program has been expanded to also accept; newspapers, mixed paper, magazines, cardboard, mixed paper, magazines, phone books, cardboard, used oil, used oil filters, anti-freeze, used cooking oil, household appliances, scrap metal, automotive and rechargeable batteries, clothing and textiles, used cooking oil, electronics, fluorescent light bulbs, scrap tires, yard waste and propane / gas cylinders.

Over 814,000 visits are made to our convenience centers every year. The County is required under the Maryland Recycling Act to meet a State mandated 15% recycling goal. Since the Program began in 1992, the recycling rate has increased form 6% to 40.60% in 2010, which includes credit from source reduction efforts. Lastly, SINGLESTREAM RECYCLING IS NOW AVAILABLE for your convenience. Newspaper, magazines, mixed paper, phone books, plastic and glass containers, tin / steel / aluminum cans may all be "mixed together" and no longer need to be sorted.

To view information on our services and the Recycling Guide.

Click on the following links to view more information on:

Aerosol Can Recycling Program

Effective November 10, 2008, the Single Stream Recycling Program was expanded to include aerosol cans. The cans must be empty and not under pressure; lids and labels are acceptable. If the aerosol cans are still pressurized and contain product(s), please drop them off as part of the County's Household Hazardous Waste Program which is held at the St. Andrews Landfill during the later summer and early fall each year.

Bargain Barn/Habit for Humanity/ReStore

In October 2007, as a part of our "Good to Go" program initiatives, an additional partnership is being established with the Patuxent Habitat for Humanity in an effort to recycle building materials, provide affordable home furnishings and building materials for homeowners, divert reusable building materials from landfills and save/reduce tipping fees. For a complete listing of items accepted by this Lexington Park based facility, located in the old Bay District Fire House at 21600 Great Mills Road Lexington Park, Md 20653. Phone number: (301) 863-6227. Please visit the ReStore website at

Battery Recycling

Each year billions of used batteries are disposed of into solid waste facilities in the United States. Each facility that makes the decision to implement battery recycling programs will help protect the environment and ensure their compliance with environmental laws. On July 1, 2001, a formal program, "Operation Recharge", for battery recycling was established at the County's six (6) convenience centers and at the St. Andrews Landfill. Rechargeable batteries such as Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-Mh), Lithium Ion(Li-ion) and Small Sealed Lead (Pb) are eligible for the "Operation Recharge" program. Once collected, the batteries are bulk shipped to RBRC for recycling credit. To date, the program also includes the collection of lead acid batteries from cars, motorcycles, pick-up trucks, lawn mowers, R/V's and boats. Once collected, these batteries are either provided to a recycler or included as a part of our Drop N' Swap program. The batteries accepted may be full, drained, steel or glass cased.

Bikes for Tykes

The "Good to Go" Program is planned to be a voluntary partnership being established in an effort to help clean up the environment through prevention, reuse of materials and recycling. This CHALLENGE is designed to give residents, small charitable businesses and not-for profit organizations an opportunity to be leaders in St. Mary's County. For example, In November 2005, our Bikes for Tykes program was initiated at the St. Andrews Landfill - bicycles destined for disposal are now salvaged by staff and made available for restoration or distribution by volunteers and residents to those in need in our community.

If you are interested in volunteering or do you have any suggestions, please contact our Solid Waste Manager at (301) 863-8400.

Boat Disposal

The County does accept old and used boats, jet skis, canoes and rowboats at the St Andrews landfill provided that: 1) they do not exceed 20' (feet) in length; 2) the motor and drive must be disconnected and removed, but may be disposed of at the same time as long as the customer places the motor/drive in the scrap metal pile; 3) all fluids must be drained from the fuel tank(s), oil reservoir(s) and/or holding tank(s); and 4) the battery(s) must be disconnected and removed, but may be dropped off at the same time as long as the customer places the battery(s) in the designated drop off location. All of the above mentioned criteria must be checked at the scale house prior to acceptance and if any of the above items are not met, the water-craft must be rejected until such time the conditions are met. Any material disposed of in the landfill will be assessed a $65 per ton fee. Any trailer tires would be accepted at no charge.

Bulky Plastics

Effective November 10, 2008, bulky rigid plastics can be recycled rather than disposed. The new items include; plastic milk/soda crates, empty plastic buckets with metal handles, plastic laundry baskets, plastic lawn furniture, plastic totes and lids, empty plastic drums, plastic coolers, plastic flower pots, plastic drinking cups, plastic 5-gallon water bottles, plastic pallets, plastic toys and empty plastic garbage/recycling bins. The items must be recycled at the St. Andrews Landfill (free of charge) as the six (6) convenience centers are not capable of handling the bulky items.

Buy Recycled Policy

On September 6,1994 the Commissioners of St. Mary's County adopted a Buy Recycled Policy for all County Departments. The Board realized that without sufficient market demand for recycled products, recycling collection programs will fail to achieve the objective of diverting large portions of the waste stream from disposal. Under this policy the County must use recycled content products and recyclable products in its daily operations, wherever practical and cost effective. All agencies in County Government are required to fully participate. In conjunction with the policy, the following blanket clause was included in all applicable solicitation documents, "St. Mary's County Government prefers to buy products made with recovered materials whenever they meet performance standards, can be purchased competitively and are available at a reasonable price within a reasonable period of time."

The Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) Buyers Guide to Recycled Products lists hundreds of company names, addresses, brands and %recycled content for building materials, playground equipment, business and school supplies, furniture, clothing and household products made from recycled materials. For copies contact the PRC at (610) 333-1555 or(412) 488-7490.

Cardboard Recycling

Effective March 2, 1998 old corrugated cardboard (OCC) collection was provided at the six convenience centers. Recycling cardboard reduces the volume of waste disposed in the landfill, reduces disposal fees and can generate revenues to help offset the operational costs of the program. Corrugated cardboard is characterized by its "wavy" middle layer. Waxed cardboard and chipboard are not acceptable. Please remove all food, plastic liners, waxed paper and Styrofoam from inside the boxes. An average of more than 5,000 tons of cardboard per year is recycled from both residential and commercial sectors each year, with over half from the County convenience centers. Slotted bins have been provided at the convenience centers to help keep the material clean and dry. Reuse your boxes if you can.

Cartridge (Ink Jet ) Collection

"IT PAY$ TO RECYCLE". Don't throw your used ink jet cartridges away! If the cartridges have not been re-filled, re-manufactured or damaged in shipping, Enviro SMART will pay you $2 for each cartridge. On February 5, 2001, the DPW&T began recycling it's used printer cartridges for cash. Every time a cartridge is returned, the amount of solid waste being placed into landfills is reduced. In addition, we are minimizing the use of our limited natural resources required top reduce new cartridges. We hope to expand the program throughout all of St. Mary's County Government departments and other public agencies-including the Naval Air Station. Most HP ink jet and laser cartridges are accepted, many of the Canon series cartridges, IBM laser, Lexmark laser and Xerox laser cartridges are also accepted. Choose one of the following simple collection methods that will work best for your organization:

Collection Envelopes can be provided by Enviro SMART. These envelopes are pre-addressed and postage paid. Just place the empty cartridge into it's original box (or new cartridge packaging), place it in the envelope and drop it in the mail.

Collection Bins may also be utilized and are shipped to you with 50 zip-lock bags. The bins are designed to sit on a counter in a central office location. Simply place the empty cartridge into the bag and deposit it into the display box. Once the box has been filled, it is folded shut, taped and returned to Enviro SMART via pre-paid UPS.

Envelope Dispensers are another way to start your program. The reusable dispensaries shipped with 400 collection envelopes. Just tear of an envelope, place the empty cartridge inside and drop it in the mail. Once the envelopes are gone, simply re-order more to refill the dispenser.

Organizations interested in participating in this program may contact Enviro SMART by facsimile: (804) 272-3281.

Collection Envelopes are available at the six (6) convenience centers or the St. Andrews Landfill. St. Mary's County residents interested in recycling electronic and electrical products may also contact the county Solid Waste Manager at (301)863-8400.

Christmas Tree Drop-Off

Each year, trees left at the convenience centers are collected and ground into mulch at the St. Andrews Landfill and approximately 20 tons of mulch is generated from the processing the Christmas Trees. Donations of mulch have also been made to the Horticulture Program. Trees can also bed roped off at the signed areas near the park entrances and will be used to provide animal habitats. For specific times and dates contact the Point Lookout Park Service at (301) 872-5688 or the County Solid Waste Manager at (301) 863-8400. Please remove all tinsel, garland and ornaments. Help us qualify for the SWANA Christmas Tree Recycling Excellence Award next year.

Clothing and Textile Recovery

The collection of textiles at the convenience centers began in April 1996thanks to the help of the Melwood Horticultural Training Center. The initiation of this new collection campaign received the 1996 Maryland Recyclers' Coalition Outstanding Small Government Program Award. As of March 20, 2003,Planet Aid is collecting material at all of our convenience centers. The materials are then sorted and distributed abroad to support RedCross disaster relief, homeless shelters, local charities, AIDS prevention /education efforts and community development projects in countries less fortunate than ours. Any kind of clean, dry clothing is acceptable. Shoes should be tied or securely fastened together. Stuffed animals and cloth dolls as well as sheets, towels, nylon shower curtains, tablecloths, napkins, hats, gloves, belts, and purses are all acceptable. Wet clothing, rugs, plastic and foam backed drapes are not acceptable. See our Reuse Directory Pamphlet for other drop-off locations. Between 100-150 tons of textiles are being collected from St. Mary's County residents each year. Also, feel free to visit the following link for more information about donating used clothing and how to sponsor a used clothing donation center on your property.

Commingled Containers (glass, plastic &metal containers)

SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING IS NOWAVAILABLE for your convenience. Newspaper, magazines, mixed paper, phone books, plastic and glass containers, tin / steel / aluminum cans may all be "mixed together" and no longer need to be sorted. Over 1,000 tons of commingles containers are collected in The County each year. Commingled simply means that recyclables are placed together in a collection container. When you see are cycling symbol on a product to indicate that it is MADE from recycled content, you can trust that it was (though again, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is RECYCLABLE). We strongly encourage you to buy products with recycled content to further stimulate the market for recycled materials.

Helpful Hints…

All plastic, glass, and metal containers must be places in the same designated container.

The containers may be left in a paper bag. Labels, lids and caps do not have be removed.

All plastics coded #1and #2 & only plastics coded #3, #4, #5, #6& #7 which are narrow neck and screw top containers are acceptable. Although acceptable since November 10, 2008, bagged plastic film such as grocery bags, shrink wrap and stretch film are now (January 2016)no longer acceptable. Glass containers for food and beverages are acceptable (all colors). Plate glass or mirrors are not acceptable (please discard). Metal(aluminum, tin, steel) containers from food and beverages. Effective November 10, 2008aerosol cans, aluminums pans and foil are now acceptable.

Lastly, effective November 10, 2008, aseptic packaging/ gable top milk/juice cartons are now acceptable.

Where Does It Go?

All glass, metal and plastic containers collected in this program are hauled to a processing facility, baled and sent to mills where the material(s) is processed into new containers or a variety of other products.

What do the different numbers on plastic containers mean?

The three arrows symbol is not an indication that an item can be recycled. The recycling symbol is unregulated, meaning that no authority controls who places the symbol on what product, be it recyclable or not. The plastics industry uses the recycling symbol as an "in house" coding system to identify resin types as follows:

  • #1 PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) is a clear, tough plastic. Its ability to hold carbon dioxide (carbonation) makes it great for soft drink usage. Mouthwash bottles, peanut butter jars and some spice and ketchup bottles are also made from PET.
  • #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene) has excellent protective barrier properties and is used, usually, for milk and water jugs, detergents, bleaches and cleaners.
  • #3 V (polyvinyl chloride) is used for telephone cable, floor mats, irrigation pipe, truck bed liners, and garbage cans.
  • #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene) issued to make bottles that require flexibility. To take advantage of its strength and toughness in film form, it is used to produce grocery bags, garbage bags, shrink film and stretch film. It is also used for plastic lumber.
  • #5 PP (polypropylene) is ideal for the use in caps and lids that have to hold tightly on to threaded openings. It is also used in carpet backing, auto battery cases, video cassette cases, and plastic lumber.
  • #6 PS (polystyrene) is a colorless plastic that can be clear and hard. It can also be foamed to provide exceptional insulation properties. Foamed or expanded polystyrene (EPS) is used for products such as meat trays, egg cartons and coffee cups. It is also used for packaging and protecting appliances, electronics and other sensitive products. Other uses of PS include silverware, toys, plastic lumber, and garbage cans.
  • #7 OTHER is used for plastic lumber, parking lot backstops, barrier retainers, fencing, sign posts, pallets, picnic tables, and playground equipment.

For more information on plastic recycling programs click here.

Document Shredding

You Get It – We Shred It !It is time to clean out your file cabinets, closets and desks and get rid of confidential, private, and important personal documents that you no longer need to keep. Community shredding events help protect individuals from identity theft and consumer fraud which are becoming an epidemic in our communities. To raise awareness and to promote prevention, The Department of Public Works & Transportation will host annual community Document Shredding Events. The first will be held at the St. Andrew's Landfill on Saturday, September 12, 2015 between the hours of 8:00a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

These community events will provide residents with the opportunity to have their confidential, private, and important documents destroyed by a professional shredding service at no cost. The truck(s) that the professional shredding company provides are capable of holding about 9,000 pounds of paper each. All paper material shredded during the event will be recycled. Please refrain from bringing materials that are not confidential in nature, such as newspapers and magazines as they will cause the truck to fill up more quickly. Please try to limit the number of boxes you bring to 2 standard bankers' boxes(10"H x 12"W x 15"D) per person so we can serve as many residents as possible. Our goal is to serve at between 230-255individuals bring material to the event.


The Department of Public Works &Transportation, as a part of its ongoing Household Hazardous Waste Collection event is planning to offer this new program. The program is designed to offer usable, low-toxicity products to the community free of charge. If you need just a little bit of stain or varnish, or some paint for a small project, you may be able to find it at the Drop N' Swap. Our Motto is: Buy none, get one free! The best way to dispose of chemicals is to use them up as they were originally intended to be used. So look forward to coming by and paying us a visit.

Electronic Recycling

The Department of Public Works &Transportation has been providing an Electronics Collection and Recycling Program at the six (6) Convenience Centers since November 2005. The Convenience Centers are open seven(7) days a week. The program not only saves valuable landfill capacity and recycles useful materials, but also protects public health and the environment from the potential effects of harmful metals and chemicals that may leach from these devices. Through this initiative, St. Mary's County residents have the ability to dispose of the following items, free of charge:

Personal Computers (PC's), Central Processing Units (CPU's), computer monitors, printers, televisions, faxes, VCR /DVD players, scanners, support Devices (IE. printers, keyboards /keypads, mouse and/or wires), and other miscellaneous devices (ie. laptops, servers, stereos, radios, two-way radios, tape players, telephones, electronic games, alarm clocks, audio / visual equipment and other small electronic material).

Unfortunately, console televisions and projection TV's cannot be recycled at this time and must be disposed of in the solid waste compactors located at each convenience center.

Empty Pesticide Container Recycling

It is estimated between 25 to 35 million empty pesticide containers are sold annually in the United States. When empty, these containers take up valuable landfill space and if improperly disposed of, can present a threat to water quality. To address this issue, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has been conducting annual collection programs since 1993. St. Mary's County entered into a Cooperative Agreement with the State on June 11, 1996 to offer the Program to the County's residents. There are currently four (4) collection dates established each year between the months of June and September with the closest site being the Frederick County Landfill at 9031 Reich's Ford Road.

Before the empty containers can be accepted for recycling they must be thoroughly rinsed and visually inspected by MDA inspectors to ensure that they are clean and free of pesticide residue. Any size container will be accepted, but all containers over 30 gallons must be cut prior to recycling. Please remove all container caps, lids, metal handles, and label booklets prior to recycling. Containers that pass inspection are temporarily stored prior to being chipped and transported for processing at an approved recycling facility. For more information on the program visit or contact the County's Solid Waste Manager at (301)863-8400 or the MDA Pesticide Regulation Section at (410) 841-5710. Additional information from the Maryland Department of Agriculture can be found on their website at

Fluorescent Bulb and Ballast Recycling Program

The "Bulb & Ballast Recycling" Program, began in November 2005 and is designed to collect used fluorescent lamps, high intensity discharge (HID) bulbs, neon lamp tubing of all shapes and sizes, ballasts, boxes for lamps and drums for ballasts, then picked up bi-weekly by a certified recycler. There is no additional cost for this service at the convenience centers since the program is part of our Electronics Recycling initiative.

The primary purpose of the program is to reduce the amount of mercury entering the environment; the various bulbs and lamps collected each contain measurable amounts of this element. The secondary purpose is to properly dispose of the PCB's contained in some older ballasts, and to recycle the copper and other materials contained in all ballasts. In 2014, the DPW&T Team implemented a fluorescent bulb recycling efficiency initiative. A "bulb eater" was purchased for use by the Building Services staff in the maintenance of County facilities and a another mobile "bulb eater" unit is being used by the Solid Waste Division to service the six Convenience Centers. The new bulb crushers replace the old practice of storing large quantities of bulbs in cardboard boxes, which was a cumbersome, less safe, and inefficient practice. The new "bulb eaters" crush spent fluorescent lamps of any length into 100% recyclable material and capture over 99.9% of mercury vapor emissions. Newer models also have a specialized compartments that will accept Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL's). The County plans to upgrade to a newer model when it is time to replace the existing machine.

Complete compliance with the law does not allow handlers to throw fluorescent lamps or ballast into a landfill, but required them to assure they are either being recycled or disposed of in a permitted hazardous waste landfill. Not only does this initiative meet EPA and OSHA standards, it creates a safer work environment for our employees in the handling, storage and disposal of used bulbs. We are also able to save money on contractor transportation and service costs. Approximately 15,000 bulbs (5 tons) are replaced annually and based on the 1stpick-up under this new program (on June 30,2014), pick-ups will only need to be requested twice a year.

Studies indicate that this initiative can: Reduce handling - Saves roughly 20 hours of labor per 1,000 lamps by crushing rather than boxing the lamps; Provide a Safer work environment - EPA studies show an estimated2-3% accidental breakage rate while boxing lamps prior to pickup; Result in Savings -can be anywhere from a dime to $1 per lamp.

What does the law say?

RCRA regulations prohibit the disposal of waste lamps and light bulbs in sanitary landfills if they contain levels of heavy metals (i.e., mercury) that exceed hazardous waste limits. The EPA has prepared a fact sheet, describing what to do if a compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulb or Fluorescent Tube Light Bulb breaks in your home.

Generators of spent hazardous bulbs can choose to manage their bulbs as either hazardous waste or universal waste. The Universal Waste Standards (40 CFR Part 273) are management standards that are less stringent than hazardous waste requirements for large quantity generators - those producing more than 2,200 pounds (1,000kilograms) in any calendar month. Small quantity generators - those producing between 200 pounds and 2,200 pounds (100-1,000 kilograms) of hazardous waste per month may also find it advantageous to manage their waste as universal waste. Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators - those producing less than 220pounds (100 kilograms) of hazardous waste per month may prefer to manage it as hazardous waste due to the minimal requirements associated with the smaller waste volumes. For specific RCRA generator requirements, refer to 40 CFR 261,262 and273.

Home and Backyard Composting

To reduce wasting food at home, we suggest better meal planning. Use a shopping list, and prepare only enough food to be eaten during a meal. Meal planning benefits you by saving money and benefits the environment by saving resources. For the scraps that are produced at home, set up a compost bin to make compost by mixing foods craps and green waste in your backyard.

A typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year. Put another way, that is about 1.5 lbs per person a day in the U. S. Food scraps generated by all households in the United States could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high!

Up to 90 percent of waste thrown out by businesses like supermarkets and restaurants is food scraps. In fact, food scraps are the third largest segment of the waste stream with nearly 26 million tons generated each year. Of the overall waste stream, about 12%is food-related, behind paper and plastic. Yard and food waste make up 30% of the solid waste stream in the U. S.

What is composting?

Composting is a controlled process of decomposition of organic material. Naturally occurring soil organisms recycle nitrogen, potash, phosphorus, and other plant nutrients as they convert the material into humus.

Benefits of composting

  • Composting is a convenient, beneficial and inexpensive way to handle your organic waste and help the environment. Composting:
  • is easy, requiring minimal amounts of space and effort; and
  • recycles your wastes into a valuable soil amendment that can be used to improve your soil and plantings; and
  • reduces the volume of garbage requiring disposal;
  • saves money for you and your community in reduced soil purchases and reduced local disposal costs; and
  • enriches the soil. Using compost adds essential nutrients, improves soil structure, which allows better root growth, and increases moisture and nutrient retention in the soil. Plants love compost!
  • Disposal of leaves, grass, clipping and other yard waste is a problem for homeowners.
  • Composting food scraps at home is one of the most important aspects of home composting. Why? Because food scrap items such as vegetable and fruit waste, meal leftovers, coffee grounds, tea bags, stale bread, grains, and general refrigerator spoilage are an everyday occurrence in most households.

Backyard composting

The best way to compost food waste is to mix it with dry leaves, sticks and twigs, wood chips, sawdust, dried/dead plants, shredded newspaper, or paper from a home shredder, and mixed yard waste. Always cover fresh material with a layer of wood chips and a dusting of dirt, or with unscreened, mature compost. A compost pile in your backyard will have lots of microbes taking up residence. Keep in mind that the microbes need oxygen, water, and food; the same things we need to survive. If the pile gets too wet or dense with food scraps, it will smell bad and composting will slow down or stop altogether.

What should you compost?

Yard wastes such as leaves, grass clippings and weeds makes excellent compost. Fruit and vegetable scraps, plus food wastes such as coffee grounds, tea bags, and eggs shells, can be composted. To keep animals and odors out of your pile, do not add meat, bones, fatty food wastes (such as cheese, grease and oils), dog and cat litter, and diseased plants. Do not add invasive weeds and weeds that have gone to seed to the pile. Elements of a good compost pile With these principles in mind, you can convert your organic wastes into resources by turning your spoils to soil.

In the kitchen, first things first. Here area few suggestions:

  • Meal portion planning is the best way to save money and resources. Plan weekly meals and buy only what you can cook before it spoils.
  • Rediscover the art of soup and making soup stock with wilted vegetables. Boiling animal bones makes a tasty stock for soups and stews, but put the bones in the garbage after boiling.
  • Store leftovers in single portion containers so you can use them for lunch the next day.
  • Store some things in the freezer. Properly frozen bread, for example, can be used as needed throughout the week. Bake it back to freshness as you need it.
  • Collect food prep scraps neatly, and then take them out to the backyard bin before they get smelly. Collect vegetable scraps, eggshells, paper towels, left-over rice, pasta, or bread. Don't include oils, dairy, or meats.

What Home Food Waste Can You Compost

Not all food waste is created equal. You should know this or else you may have problems popping up in your compost bin or pile. BIGPROBLEMS! Actually, once you look at the chart below, commonsense will be your guide.

Do Compost

  • All your vegetable and fruit wastes,(including rinds and cores) even if they are moldy and ugly
  • Old bread, donuts, cookies, crackers, pizza crust, and noodles: anything made out of flour!
  • Grains (cooked or uncooked): rice, barley, you name it
  • Coffee grounds, tea bags, filters
  • Fruit or vegetable pulp from juicing
  • Old spices
  • Outdated boxed foods from the pantry
  • Egg shells (crush well)
  • Corn cobs and husks (cobs breakdown very slowly)

Don't Compost

  • Meat or meat waste, such as bones, fat, gristle, skin, etc.
  • Fish or fish waste
  • Dairy products, such as cheese, butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, etc.
  • Grease and oils of any kind
Why Can't You Compost These Food Wastes?
  • They imbalance the otherwise nutrient-rich structure of other food and vegetation waste and breakdown slowly
  • They attract rodents and other scavenging animals
  • Meat attracts maggots
  • Your compost bin will smell!

Recipe for Backyard Composting


While a multitude of organisms, fungus, bacteria, molds, earthworms, insects, and other soil organisms are involved in the overall process, there are four basic ingredients for composting: nitrogen, carbon, water, and air. The easiest compost recipe calls for blending roughly equal parts of green or wet material (which is high in nitrogen) and brown or dry material (which is high in carbon). Simply layer or mix these materials in a pile or enclosure; chop or shred large pieces to 12" or shorter. Water and fluff the compost to add air. Then leave it to the micro organisms, which will break down the material over time.

  • Nitrogen - Green materials such as grass clipping and landscape trimmings are ideal sources of nitrogen for composting. Vegetable and fruit trimmings and peels can also provide nitrogen for composting. Coffee grounds and tea bags may look brown, but are actually potent nitrogen sources. To reduce the potential for pests or odors, avoid meat or dairy scraps and always bury food scraps deep within the compost pile. Avoid pet feces due to concerns about pathogens. However, manure from chickens, turkeys, cows or horses is rich in nitrogen, and can help your compost pile get to proper temperatures, and make very good compost.
  • Carbon - Brown (dry) yard and garden material such as dry leaves, twigs, hay, or shredded paper can provide the carbon balance for a compost pile. Chop or shred large pieces to 12 inches or shorter (thick, woody branches should be chipped, ground up, or left out). Untreated wood chips and sawdust are a powerful carbon source which may be useful if the pile contains excess nitrogen.
  • Water - One of the most common mistakes in composting is letting the pile get too dry. Your compost pile should be moist as a wrung-out sponge. A moisture content of 40 to 60 percent is preferable. To test for adequate moisture, reach into your compost pile and grab a handful of material and squeeze it; if a few drops of water come out, it's probably got enough moisture, if it doesn't, add water. When you water, it is best to put a hose into the pile so that you aren't just wetting the top. You can also water as you are turning the pile. During dry weather, you may have to add water regularly. During wet weather, you may need to cover your pile. A properly constructed compost pile will drain excess water and not become soggy.
  • Air -The bacteria and fungus that are in your compost pile need oxygen to live. If your pile is too dense or becomes too wet, the air supply to the inside is cut off and the beneficial organisms will die. Decomposition will slow and an offensive odor may arise. To avoid this, turn and fluff the pile with a pitchfork often, perhaps weekly. You can also turn the pile by just re-piling it into a new pile. Wash hands after handling compost, or use gloves.
  • Size -Ideally, the compost pile should be at least three feet wide by three feet deep by three feet tall (one cubic yard). This size provides enough food and insulation for the organisms to live. However, piles can be larger or smaller and work just fine if managed well.

Ten Steps to Making a Compost Pile

There are as many different ways to make compost as there are people who do it. The following guidelines will get you started, but soon your own experience will help you tailor a method that best fits your needs.

  • STEP 1: Selecting a location – You don't need much space for this project, an area as small as 6' by 6' is plenty. A pile that is about three feet square and three feet high will help maintain the heat generated by the composting organisms throughout the winter. Although a smaller pile may not retain heat, it will compost. If you plan to compost in the winter, choose a sunny spot, otherwise a location with some shade will help to keep the compost moist during the summer months. Set up the bin in a convenient area with good drainage.
  • STEP 2:Bin design – You can purchase a ready made bin or build one yourself out of basic material(s). The simplest enclosure made of 3' wide, 1"wire mesh, formed into a 3'diameter circle, securing the ends to one another using wooden stakes for support. Another easy enclosure is by reusing four old shipping pallets, secured side to side, making a square box. Check to see if your community has a composting bin distribution program, or order from a garden catalogue, nursery or hardware store. Enclosed compost piles keep out pests, hold heat and moisture in, and have a neat appearance. Or, bins can be simply made of wire, wood, pallets, concrete blocks, even garbage cans with drainage holes drilled in them. In urban areas, rodent-resistant compost bins - having a secure cover and floor and openings no wider than one-half inch - must be used.
  • STEP 3:Filling the bin – All organic matter, things that were once alive or come from living things is compostable. This includes yard waste such as leaves and grass clippings, kitchen wastes such as fruit and vegetable leavings, coffee grounds, tealeaves, egg shells, etc. DO NOT compost animal products such as meat, bones, fat, grease or pet feces.
  • STEP 4:Efficient composting – Any combination of organic materials will eventually degrade. For a higher quality product, use a mixture of compatible material. Rule-of-thumb, mix equal parts of BROWN (dry leaves, straw, sawdust, etc.) with GREEN (grass clippings, garden weeks, kitchen scraps)ingredients and shred or cut larger materials for quick composting. Keep kitchen scraps on the inside of the pile to decompose faster. Composting can be done gourmet style, requiring more effort, with quick results--or can be done more casually. Casual compost piles are also quite workable since compost will happen even if you just pile on yard and food waste, water sporadically, and wait. Since these piles don't get too hot, often worms will migrate into these and they will breakdown material. Casual composting can take several months.
  • STEP 5:Let's get started – When combining your BROWN and GREEN ingredients, you should add a shovel or two of soil; this will add microbes into the mix to facilitate the decomposing process. Also, add a small amount of water, you want the compost to be slightly moist, the microbes work better in this environment. Start the pile with a layer of coarse material such as corn stalks to build in air passages. Add alternating layers of "brown" and "green" materials with a shovelful of soil on top of each layer. Shredding leaves or running over them with a lawn mower will shorten the composting time. Be sure to bury food scraps in the center of the pile.
  • STEP 6: Heat– After a week, check to see if the pile is heating up. This is part of the composting process. The center may get as hot as 150 degrees F. If the center isn't warmer than the outside of the pile, you may need to add more GREEN materials to get the process started. Gourmet compost piles that have the right blend of nitrogen (greens) and carbon(browns) and are kept moist and fluffed regularly, will heat up to temperatures of 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperature will kill most weed seeds and speedup the decomposition process so that the compost may be ready in 2 to 3months or less.
  • STEP 7: Turn the pile – Composting works best under oxygen-rich conditions. The pile should be turned at least once a week with a shovel or pitchfork. This will ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and will become completely broken down.
  • STEP 8:Troubleshooting – Odors stem from two possible problems: too much GREEN, or not enough oxygen. In either case, immediately turn the pile to introduce more oxygen. If the problem is too much GREEN, add more BROWN material(s). An overly wet pile may also cause bad odors, if so, use less water.
Symptom Problem(s) Solution(s)
The pile smells bad
  • Not enough air
  • too much moisture
  • Turn the pile if not enough air
  • Add dry materials if too moist
The pile will not heat up
  • Not enough moisture
  • Pile size is too small
  • Lack of nitrogen-rich material
  • Particle size is too big
  • Add water if dry
  • Build pile to at least 3'x 3' x 3'
  • Mix in grass clippings or fruit/vegetable scraps
  • Chip or grind materials
The pile attracts flies, rodents, or pets Pile contains bones, meat, fatty or starchy foods, or animal manure Alter materials added to pile; bury fruit/vegetable scraps in the middle of the pile, or under 8"to 10" inches of soil, or compost them in a worm bin.
Pile has slugs in it (and so does garden) Pile is easily accessible and provides daytime hiding place and breeding ground for slugs Remove slugs and slug eggs from pile (eggs look like very small clusters of pearls). Locate compost pile far from vegetable gardens and/or create barriers around pile/garden (for example, traps and copper flashing).
  • STEP 9: How to tell when it's finished compost – After three to ten weeks and many turnings, your compost should be dark, moist, crumbly and ready to use. Compost is finished when the original material has been transformed into a uniform, dark brown, crumbly product with a pleasant, earthy aroma. There may be a few chunks of woody material left;these can be screened out and put back into a new pile. You may want to stop adding to your compost pile after it gets to optimal size (about3 cubic feet) and start a new pile so that your first pile can finish decomposing.
  • STEP 10:Using your compost – Technically, compost is not fertilizer; it is an excellent soil amendment that improves the structure and quality of your soil. Use your compost in garden beds to increase soil porosity and aeration, around shrubs to keep weeds at a minimum and help retain moisture. Compost can be applied as a top dressing in the garden throughout the summer. Compost is excellent for reseeding lawns, and it can be spread one-quarter inch deep over the entire lawn to rejuvenate the turf. To make potting soil, mix equal parts compost, sand and loam.

Other Ways to Reduce Organic Waste

In addition to composting, you can also help reduce organic waste by grass cycling(leaving grass clippings on the lawn when you mow) and Vermi composting (composting with worms).


Grass clippings, leaves and woody yard wastes can be used as mulch in gardens and around shrubs to keep the soil moist, control weed growth and add nutrients. Woody materials should be chipped or shredded. Use a mulch of pine needles around acid-loving plants. Leaves will work first as mulch, then as a soil enricher as they decompose. Grass clippings should be dried before using as mulch. Do not mulch with grass clippings which have been treated with herbicides; composting them first, however, will break down the herbicides.

Composting without a yard

Composting can be done indoors using an earthworm farm. Not only can you recycle your food scraps, you can also have a steady supply of fishing bait! Vermi composting: Indoor Composting with Worms.

Household Hazardous Waste Days

On May 13, 1997 the Commissioners of St. Mary's County approved the first collection event which was co-hosted by the Department of Public Works and the NAS Patuxent River Hazardous Material Control and Management Program Office on June 14, 1997. Since that time, county residents have been encouraged to clean out their barns and basements, sheds and garages, under their kitchen sinks and in their medicine cabinets and take advantage of the opportunity to properly discard of potentially toxic/dangerous materials. Items that are accepted include: disinfectants; paint (all kinds);stains and polish; solvents and thinners;caustic cleaners (for toilets, tile, masonry, ovens, etc), pool chemicals, lawn care chemicals, pet care chemicals; all pesticides, fungicides and herbicides used in and around the home; batteries (all kinds); thermometers, thermostats, fluorescent light bulbs (all contain mercury); aerosol cans of anything; boat gas, kerosene and other fuels (even old and mixed with water).

The Department conducts several announced events during the late summer and early fall each year at the St. Andrews Landfill. This initiative has grown in participation since it was initiated in 1997and currently collects between 40 - 50 tons of material each year. The average annual program costs each year are approximately $60,000 for the collection, equipment, transportation and disposal of material.

More information is available by calling the County's Solid Waste Manager at (301)863-8400. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has assembled a valuable and free informational kit that is available from the "Save the Bay from Toxins" Program at 1-800-SAVEBAY.

Newspaper & Magazine Recycling

In the Fall of 2010, recycling compactors were purchased for installation at each of the six (6) convenience centers. The front loading "hoppers" and 30-cubic yard receivers will help lower contractor expenses for serving the centers by significantly reducing the number of trips needed to empty the older open top-type recycling bins. In addition, this should result in ensuring sufficient capacity is available to our citizens.

SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING has been available to residents since December 2006 for your convenience. Newspaper, magazines, mixed paper, phone books, plastic and glass containers, tin / steel / aluminum cans may all be "mixed together" and no longer need to be sorted. The development of this program represents a major step forward in our long term waste resource management strategy," says George Erichsen, the County's Director of Public Works &Transportation. In partnering with Waste Management, residents will no longer need to sort materials and manage multiple recycling containers at home – all you need is a single container! Effective November 10,2008, items such as aerosol cans, aluminum foil and pans, aseptic packaging/gable top milk/juice cartons, are also acceptable as part of the single stream recycling. Effective January 2016, bagged plastic film such as grocery bags, stretch film and shrink wrap are not acceptable.

In September 2010, a recycling compactor was installed at each of the six (6)convenience centers. The front loading "hoppers" and 30-cubic yard receivers will help lower contractor expenses for serving the centers by significantly reducing the number of trips needed to empty the older open top-type recycling bins. In addition, this should result in ensuring sufficient capacity is available to our citizens.

Where Does It Go?

All newspaper and magazines collected in this program are hauled to a processing facility, baled and sent to mills where it is pulped and made into new paper for a variety of uses. Old newspapers are also recycled into paperboard, cereal boxes, egg cartons, pencil barrels, grocery bags, cellulose insulation materials, tissue paper, bedding for farm animals, and many more diverse products.

Helpful Hints

Newspaper and magazines do not need to be baled with string.

It is okay if the newspaper and magazines are placed in paper bags.

Inserts (ie. coupons and advertisements) are acceptable.

Mixed Paper Recycling

SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING IS NOW Available for your convenience. Newspaper, magazines, mixed paper, phone books, plastic and glass containers, tin / steel / aluminum cans may all be "mixed together" and no longer need to be sorted.

It is estimated that paper comprises about 40% of the municipal solid waste stream; and if you are in an office environment, paper makes up to 90% of the volume of your trash. Beginning August 3,1999 office workers, small business owners, and citizens were able to bring in a larger variety of paper products for recycling to the six(6) convenience centers at no charge which resulted in the collection of 1400tons, and in 2003, over 4200 tons of office/mixed paper was recycled in St. Mary's County, a 327% increase! "Mixed Paper" includes computer paper, letterhead, manila folders, ledger paper, both white and mixed colors, envelope cards, file folders, cellophane, pamphlets, and note pad paper(including the thin card stock backing of note pads). With the implementation of Single Stream Recycling, we can also accept carbon paper, clean food wrappers, containers and packaging. Unfortunately, materials heavily soled with food waste and restroom waste paper are not acceptable. By recycling you will be helping the County reduce its current cost for waste disposal . On November 14, 2000 the Commissioners of St. Mary's County and the Patuxent River Naval Air Station entered into a formal MOU regarding mixed paper recycling.

Office Paper Recycling

SINGLESTREAM RECYCLING IS NOW AVAILABLE for your convenience. Newspaper, magazines, mixed paper, phone books, plastic and glass containers, tin / steel / aluminum cans may all be "mixed together" and no longer need to be sorted.

In the Fall of 1995, with the help of the Building Services Division and our janitorial and recycling contractors, The Department began a pilot project for the collection of office paper from eighteen(18) County-maintained buildings. During the Program's first year 23.84 tons of office paper was collected. By 1998, County government workers improved recycling efforts by 152%, recycling an estimated60.17 tons of office paper. If you work in an office that makes a lot of copies, suggest that everyone try to copy on both sides of the paper. This cuts your use of copy paper in half. Today, at least twenty seven (27) County-maintained facilities participate in this program. Since April2000, in conjunction with Earth Day, The County has participated in the Annual National Clean Out Your Files Day. The event has made it possible for office workers to purge their workplace of a variety of paper products including computer paper, letterhead, white ledger paper, cards and envelopes. This event is held each year nationwide. Since April 2008, the County has also tried to hold You Get It -We Shred It events for citizens of the County to discard / destroy/ shred (recycle) unwanted documents in such a way as to prevent identity theft.

This department also assists the Friends of the Library with recycling of all unsold books at the end of the annual book sale.

Oyster Shell Recovery

In June 2014, with the help of the Oyster Recovery Partnership's (ORP's) Shell Recycling Alliance (SRA) program, The Convenience Centers began collecting used oyster shells which will be used as substrate on which to plant new oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Oyster shells will be collected in specially marked recycling containers and transported to the Horn Point Lab in Cambridge, Maryland - the largest hatchery in the world for our native oyster. Once the shells are aged and dried, each shell is "seeded" with about 10 baby oysters and then "planted" back into the Bay. Oyster reefs are believed to be critical to the restoration of the Bay, but the limited availability of oyster shells has become a barriers to restoration. An adult oyster can filter and clean approximately 50 gallons of water a day, and healthy oyster reefs provide an ideal habitat for other important marine life, including blue crabs and striped bass. For more information and a video of the oyster recovery program, please visit

Pharmaceuticals Disposal

There is a nationwide growing concern related to the abuse of prescription medication and our area is no exception. One of the easiest ways to obtain addictive drugs is in the household medicine cabinet. County residents occasionally clean out medical cabinets and may find expired, unused or unwanted Pharmaceuticals and wish to discard of the materials in a safe manner. Please DO NOT keep old or unneeded medications in your home as this can lead to accidents. People sometimes get confused about which drugs to take, or take expired medication which can be ineffective, even dangerous. Disposing of old or expired medication by flushing or discarding in the trash is a public and environmental concern. The traditional method of flushing pharmaceuticals down the drain is now being discouraged due to the materials being detected in our local water ways. Flushing medications has environmental concerns that includes the inability for sewage treatment plants to remove all of the drug compounds during the water treatment process while certain drugs kill beneficial bacteria responsible for breaking down waste in septic systems.

In addition, many local pharmacies accept expired, unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals for disposal free of charge. Please contact your pharmacy for program availability and acceptance policies. Also, The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office is pleased to announce a prescription drug disposal program. Located inside the Sheriff's Office Head quarters lobby is a secured collection bin which the public will have 24 hour access to. You may drop off all non prescription over the counter medications, prescription medications and pet medications. You can bring in pills, liquids, ointments and lotions. Syringes, inhalers of drugs in aerosol canisters or chemotherapy drugs either in IV liquid or oral form are not accepted. Contact your pharmacist for assistance with those particular items.

Phone Book Recycling

SINGLESTREAM RECYCLING IS NOW AVAILABLE for your convenience. Newspaper, magazines, mixed paper, phone books, plastic and glass containers, tin / steel / aluminum cans may all be "mixed together" and no longer need to be sorted.

The County began this seasonal collection effort in January 1994. The program runs for approximately six (6)months between the months of October and March and coincides with the distribution cycle for new directories. Approximately 15tons were collected from the residential program each year. During this time phone books are accepted at all six Convenience Centers and at certain central receiving areas in County-maintained buildings.

Old phone books can be made into ceiling tiles, pizza cartons, comic books and more new phone books. Each new directory offers complete information about other county recycling opportunities and programs.

Plastics Recycling

Information on plastic bag and plastic film ban.

Please rinse all containers if you can. Thank you!

Plastic Resin Code Type / Name of Plastic Common Use Can Be Made Into…….
Plastic Resin Code - 1 PET
Polyethylene Terephthalate
Plastic bottles (mouth wash, salad dressing, vitamins, soda, water bottles), food jars, cosmetic containers, etc. Bottles, carpeting, paint brushes, tennis balls, fiberfill for winter clothing, tee-shirts, and more…
Plastic Resin Code - 2 HDPE
High Density Polyethylene
Grocery bags, detergent bottles, milk and juice jugs, dairy tubs such as sour cream, kitty litter jugs, medicine bottles, etc. Plastic lumber, detergent and bleach bottles, trash cans, buckets. Toys, traffic barriers, flyswatters, and more…
Plastic Resin Code - 3 PVC
Polyvinyl Chloride
Shampoo / cooking oil / salad dressing bottles, vinyl paper holders, fruit cup containers, etc. Floor mats, mud flaps, pipes, hoses, computer and electric cord wraps, mobile home skirting, and more…
Plastic Resin Code - 4 LDPE
Low Density Polyethylene
Food storage containers, dairy container lids, dry cleaning and bread bags, squeezable bottles, plastic food wrap, etc. Garbage cans and liners, Frisbees, plastic lumber, lawn furniture, and more…
Plastic Resin Code - 5 PP
Medicine bottles, cereal liners, packing tape, straws, potato chip bags, deli & yogurt containers, nursery plant pots, etc. Brooms, lawn mower wheels, paint buckets, rakes, battery cables, sleeping bags, blankets, and more...
Plastic Resin Code - 6 PS
Dairy containers, CD and video cases, plastic cutlery, egg cartons, foam packaging, coffee cups, picnic plates & cups, etc. Building insulation, flower pots, CD cases and sleeves, rulers, license plate frames, trash cans, food service trays, and more…
Plastic Resin Code - 7 Other PC
Baby, ketchup, syrup & water cooler bottles, car parts, window cleaner bottles, etc. Street signs, pens, concrete supports, ice scrapers, medical storage containers, and more…

Propane Tank Recycling

Effective May 17, 2001, the St. Andrews landfill began accepting camping stove propane tanks, oxygen tanks, acetylene bottles, carbon dioxide cylinders and freon tanks from residential and commercial customers. Acceptable container sizes are10, 20, 30, 40 and 100 pound cylinders.

This program allows the citizens of St. Mary's County to safely and properly dispose of full or partially expended containers free of charge and will help reduce the costs associated with our Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day events. All weights will be credited toward the State's mandated recycling goals.

Recycle For Sight

Lions Club International changes lives one pair of glasses at a time through their Recycle for Sight program. People can give their old eyeglasses and hearing aids to the humanitarian group at official collection points located throughout the United States. The County's Department Public Works & Transportation has been working with the local Lions Club to add the six convenience centers and St. Andrews Landfill as additional Collection Points for donations. As of August 1, 2016, Lions Club donation boxes will be located in the attendants shelters with signage to help promote this program. The five Lions Clubs will now be collecting used eyeglasses and hearing aids from over 35 locations through the County.

Lions Club volunteers collect used eyeglasses from official donation locations and deliver them to regional Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers (LERCs). LERC volunteers clean, sort by prescription strength and package the glasses. Recycled glasses are distributed to people and organizations in need around the world who distribute them free of charge. The Recycle for Sight program accepts donations of prescription and reading glasses, sunglasses along with plastic and metal eyeglass frames. As a part of this program, hearing aids collected are also collected and refurbished, if possible.

Donating glasses can change someone's life. Imagine if you could help a child read, an adult succeed in his job, a senior maintain her independence, and provide a community with more opportunities to grow and thrive.

Reuse Directory

The Department maintains a current listing of businesses and organizations that accept items for reuse. To obtain a copy of the Directory, or if you know of a business or group that should be listed, or if you would like to be listed, contact our Recycling Coordinator by phone; (301) 863-8400 or by fax; (301) 863-8810.

The Mission Statement of the St. Mary's County Recycling Division is "To promote Reuse, Recycle, and Reduction programs through effective communication, public education and example." To achieve the goal of waste reduction, the Department of Public Works has adopted the following hierarchy of the "4 R's" - Reduction, Reuse, Recycling and Recovery.

Wherever possible, waste REDUCTION is the preferable option-it is best to produce as little waste as possible.

Reducing the amount of waste is by far the most effective way to battle the flow of garbage into a landfill. How to reduce it-avoid using it in the first place.

If waste is produced, every effort should be made to REUSE it if at all practical. Reusing also means that the product doesn't end up in a landfill. How to reuse it-find products you need and share your excess products with others at a cost savings to everyone.

RECYCLING is the third option in the waste management hierarchy. Although recycling does help to conserve resources and reduce wastes, it is important to remember that there are economic and environmental costs associated with the waste collection and recycling processes. For this reason, recycling should really be considered for waste which cannot be reduced or reused. How to recycle it-place it in the right container to save money

Finally, it may be possible to RECOVER materials or energy from waste which cannot be reduced, reused or recycled. Practicing the first 2R's of waste management can be as simple as changing household habits or as complex as altering industrial processes.

We have RETHOUGHT, REVISED and are RESPONDING with four (4) new programs to usher in the new millennium and further our consistency with the County's Policy, Goals and Objectives as specified in the approved Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan:

Join the St. Mary's County Freecycle Network™. Membership is quick, easy and free of charge. For additional information about "ReUse" and preventing items from being discarded into landfills, please consider the The Free cycle Network™.

Scrap Metal and Used Appliances

Since July 1993 scrap metal and "white goods"(used appliances) have been collected at the St. Andrews Landfill. The County has a contract with the Maryland Environmental Service to purge all air conditioners, freezers and refrigeration units of Class I(CFC's) and Class II (HCFC's) ozone depleting substances in accordance with the Federal Clean Air Act and removal of PCB's from same. The material is then loaded and transported by a contractor under a "no-cost" arrangement for his ultimate use and / or disposal.

Single Stream Recycling

The development of this program represents a major step forward in our long term waste resource management strategy," says George Erichsen, the County's Director of Public Works & Transportation. Effective November10, 2008, items such as aerosol cans, aluminum foil and pans, aseptic packaging/gable top milk/juice cartons we redetermined to be acceptable as part of the single stream recycling. Effective January 2016, bagged plastic film such as grocery bags, stretch film and shrink wrap are not acceptable. For more information on how a single stream facility operates, please view our Recycling Facility Video.

Effective December 2006, residents using the six (6) Convenience Centers will no longer need to sort your recyclable items or manage multiple recycling containers at home. The Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, cereal boxes, mixed paper (printer paper, copier paper, mail, etc.), old corrugated cardboard, phone books, plastics, glass aluminum, and steel containers could be co-mingled into the same recycling container(s)..

Why are we doing this?

We are certain that this customer service improvement will make it more convenient for our residents and businesses to recycle larger quantities of materials, improve our recycling rate and reduce the amount of material we have to pay for to place into landfills.

What Will Happen to Your Recyclables?

Once your recyclable items are collected, they are transported to a single stream recycling facility in Capitol Heights, Maryland. The facility is equipped with the state of the art sorting technology that separates your recyclable materials right at the plant.

Student Landfill Tours

In 1995 the Department of Public Works made staff available for sixth grade bus and walking tours of the St. Andrew's Landfill and Convenience Center Facilities. The physical, environmental and functional aspects of the facilities are described to the children and informational material is provided to them as they return to their respective schools or homes. For the safety of the children they remain in the bus when at the working face of the landfill. These educational tours can be used as an integral component of the Environment Education and Student Service Learning Programs. If you would like a tour, please contact our Solid Waste Manager at (301) 863-8400.

Scrap Tires

As of January 1, 1994, with the approval of House Bill 1202, scrap tires are no longer permitted to be disposed of in landfills. Although there is a ban on the disposal, The Department continues to accept tires at the St. Andrews Landfill Facility in accordance with its Secondary Scrap Tire Collection Facility License issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment which allows the accumulation of up to 1,500 tires to be located on the premises. Currently, the County self hauls or utilizes a licensed scrap tire hauler for scrap tires collected at the St. Andrews Landfill to a permitted scrap tire acceptance facility in the State of Maryland or Virginia for proper disposal/recycling. The hauling of scrap tires is authorized in accordance with a Scrap Tire Haulers License issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

COMAR requires The Department prepare Semi-annual reports for submission to the State to monitor tire disposal and storage activities. On April 25, 1998 the Maryland Environmental Service assisted the County in the 1st annual Scrap Tire Amnesty Day which was funded (both publicity and disposal) from the State's Used Tire Cleanup and Recycling Fund.(created from the $1.00 fee on the sale of each new tire-reduced in 1999, to $0.50 and subsequently increased to $0.80 in 2005). The fifteen (15) Maryland Counties participating in the event collected a total of 1,642.29 tons of scrap tires which we re-transported and disposed of by the State at a cost of $241,408.25. St Mary's County collection efforts at the St. Andrews Landfill Facility yielded 2,085 tires (43.86tons). With a corresponding disposal cost of $4,853. St. Mary's County continues to host Tire Amnesty Day events as funding is made available by the State. The 2004 event resulted in the collection of 1,011 tires(32.13 tons), the 2006 event collected 1,498tires (69.91 tons) and the 2008 event collected 3,677 tires (80.93 tons). In April 2009, 3,215 scrap tires (94.72 tons) were collected. In September 2011, the State authorized agricultural tires to be included in the program. In the meantime, residents may continue to recycle up to five (5) tires per trip at the St. Andrews Landfill year-round for passenger and light truck tires. Bulky/oversize scrap tires and loads in excess of five (5) tires will be assessed a fee of $158.00 per ton. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) did not fund Scrap tire amnesty Day events in FY2011, 2012 or 2014. We collect approximately 200 tons of residential scrap tires per year (900-1,000 tires/ month) which are hauled to a processing facility in Glouster, Virginia.

Trailer Disposal

The County does accept trailers at the St Andrews landfill if all material is removed from within the unit and the trailer is dismantled and brought in on normal trucks. Any material disposed of in the landfill will be assessed a $65 per ton fee. Any material accepted for metal recycling, or any white goods would be accepted at no charge. Individuals are encouraged to obtain a copy of the County's Reuse Directory for the disposal of bedding, fabric, fuel tanks, wood, furniture, etc. within the unit that may be otherwise utilized prior to disposal. The County cannot accept any trailers that are in-tact as it would have to rent the necessary personnel and equipment to dismantle the trailer such as a crane, cutting torches, etc. The trailers themselves weigh approximately five (5) tons and at the $65 per ton tipping fee would not offset the costs of disposal. A listing of scrap metal haulers may obtained at The Department of Public Works & Transportation.

Tread Spread Pilot Project

The Department of Public Works &Transportation recently landscaped the grounds of it's administrative building (the Arnold Building on MD Route 4) with a new alternative tire mulch, an environmentally friendly product called TreadSpread®. The DPW&T took advantage of a unique opportunity as both the mulch and delivery were at no cost to the County. The material is made in the State of Maryland from recycled scrap tires originating from local tire dealerships, automotive shops and the County's recycling program. The scrap tires are shredded into 3/8 pieces of rubber, magnets are used to remove any metal, and the final product is dyed in various colors. The material is virtually maintenance free, provides excellent drainage, does not promote mold, mildew or fungus, does not attract termites, is non-toxic and safe for children, animals and plants.

For additional information on TreadSpread®, please contact the Maryland Environmental Service at (410) 729-8200 or visit their website at For additional information on the County's Recycling programs, you may contact The Department of Public Works & Transportation at (301) 863-8400.

Used Cooking Oil and Kitchen Grease Recycling

In November 2005, the County's Recycling Program, in conjunction with Valley Proteins, Inc. announced the initiation of Used Cooking Oil and Kitchen Grease Recycling at the six (6) Convenience Centers. The program is intended to provide residents of St. Mary's County the ability to dispose of cooking oil and kitchen grease and provide the raw materials necessary to produce alternative fuel and petroleum displacement products (IE. "Biodiesel"). Recycling used cooking oil and kitchen can also prevent clogged drain pipes, disrupting the biological degradation process in septic tanks and prevent clogging drain fields.

Used Motor Oil and Anti-Freeze

The County began its waste oil collection program in June 1989 at the Ridge, Valley Lee, Oakville and Clements Convenience Centers. The Maryland Environmental Service has since provided containers at all The Convenience Centers for the collection of used motor oil and anti-freeze. Used oil is either sold for industrial boiler fuel, used in hot mix asphalt, or used as cutter stock for oil fuel burners. Certain industries such as pulp / paper mills and electric utilities use the recycled fuel oil as it is energy-efficient. Used antifreeze is recycled to eliminate contaminants and then additives are used to restore its antifreeze qualities so it can be reused as antifreeze. IT is also used for heat-transfer fluids as a freeze-protection ingredient. Hydraulic fluid, kerosene, diesel fuel, #2 fuel oil and transmission fluid may be mixed with waste oil. Do not mix gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluid, cleaning solvents, refrigerator oil, transformer oil, paint thinners, animal/ vegetable oils, ink or water with the waste oil. In 2001, we began recycling used oil filters. The steel recovered from the oil filters is recycled in a variety of steel processes for new steel products.

Vehicles For Veterans

Vehicles for Veterans is a tax exempt charity under section 501(c)(3)of the IRS Code. Vehicles For Veterans donates proceeds to other tax exempt charities that help disabled veterans. They will pick up your car, boat, motorcycle or RV, whether it runs or not, at no cost to you. Call 1-855-811-4838 or go to to get more information.

Wheels For Wishes & Wellness

Wheels For Wishes & Wellness is a nonprofit vehicle recycling program benefiting local children's hospitals and charities in Maryland. At no cost to donors, they pick up or tow away vehicles, anywhere in Maryland. Donors also receive a tax deduction. If you are interested in donating a vehicle, their website is or call 1-844-531-9474 to donate now.

Yard Waste, Composting & Mulching

U-LOAD-U-HAUL! Mulch is available for pick-up by residents, community and civic groups (elementary schools, technical centers and colleges) at no charge. Although the Department makes reasonable effort to assure that the product is free of foreign material, we make no guarantees and ask residents to sign a disclaimer. The Department currently grinds the collected material at a cost of about $30-40 per ton and stockpiles it on-site for distribution back to residents at no cost. In 1997, almost 216 tons of mulch was generated. Since that time, the Program has grown from producing 534 tons in 1999 and is now over 3,000 tons per year.

As a part of our yard waste debris collection program, the acceptance of stumps is authorized under the current tipping fee as follows: 1) The trunk of the tree must not exceed 12" in diameter, otherwise the stump must be split and/or quartered to a size equivalent and 2) The stump must not have excessive soil incorporated with the root structure. If either of the above is not followed, we unfortunately cannot accept the material because it will be too large for the tub grinder to be able to process. These stumps must be taken to an alternative disposal facility such as land clearing and fill.

In addition, the material is used; to mulch around County-maintained buildings, as topsoil for roadside maintenance and repair work, and the construction of nature trails. The Department plans to expand services to include grass and leaves.

The program was initiated on July 13,1993 through a Joint Services Agreement between Calvert and St. Mary's Counties for the cost-sharing of tub grinding and wind row turning equipment used in the processing of yard waste. The Department also took advantage of an MES grant and received reimbursement for the construction of a paved yard waste composting site at the St. Andrews Landfill. The Agreement represented a regional solution to the planned October1, 1994 State-wide ban on source separated yard wastes from land-filling. In August1996, with the initiation of a State-wide mobile tub grinder services contract offered to participating Counties by the Maryland Environmental Service, the Joint Services Agreement was terminated.

The Department offers assistance with the loading of mulch material when staff is available. This assistance is typically reserved for the elderly, disabled, individuals with health conditions or other individuals that might need assistance for various other reasons. Assistance can be requested upon entering the landfill facility (at the Scale House) or by talking directly with the landfill attendant on duty that day. If a request for assistance is made at the Scale House, a loader operator is contacted via cell phone or two-way radio, is directed to the loading area, and is provided with a description of the vehicle needing assistance. This is usually the most streamlined method of providing assistance as both the equipment operator and customer can arrive at the loading area at roughly the same time. Whenever a loader is involved, we will try to avoid interfering with residents who are in the process of self-loading material as a matter of operational safety. If an equipment operator is busy performing other required duties at the landfill, he/she may not be available to provide immediately assistance in loading material. In these cases, please be patient, assistance will be provided as soon as the operator has completed his/her other duties.

There remains several options available for year-round and/or longer term disposal: -For any remaining yard waste debris, the St. Andrews Landfill is available to residents at the current tipping fee rate of $10 per pick-up load or effective July 1, 2012 a new Green Waste Fee of $40 per ton in lieu of the $65 per ton normally charged for over sized loads-Residents are still allowed to conduct open burning in accordance with Health Department requirements (contact301.475.4321). Local contractors are still available to assist residents in removal. For a list of licensed tree-removal service providers, please refer to larger stumps, they may be taken to an alternative disposal facility such as a land clearing landfill (IE. The Knott Land Clearing Debris Landfill @ 301.994.0300).