Curbside Recycling & Trash Collection


Residential customers receive vouchers in January and June for 25 black trash bags and 36 blue recycling bags. New residents should receive vouchers within 3 weeks from starting utility services with the City of Columbia. If more blue recycling bags are needed, Columbia residents may request additional vouchers at no cost. 

Here is how it works… (Download the opens in a new windowResidential Recycling Brochure)

  • Materials must be at the curb by 7 a.m., except during the summer (Memorial Day – Labor Day) which will begin at 6:30 a.m. Residents may put out as early as 4:00 p.m. on the day before your scheduled collection. 
  • Only set out bags that are completely full
  • Make sure that the bag weighs less than 50 pounds

In a BLUE Recycling Bag:

In a Paper Bag or Cardboard Box:

In a Trash Bag:

Yard Waste Collection:

You can place yard waste on the street curb during your regular collection day. Yard waste can be used in the City’s Bioreactor Landfill to accelerate the decomposition and stabilization of waste. Methane gas (among others) are collected from the landfill to generate electricity at the City’s Bioenergy Plant.


Place leaves, grass, twigs and branches too small to bundle in any bag (except blue recycling bags), box or disposal container- not to exceed 50 pounds. Limbs must be bundled and should not exceed 4 feet in length, 2 feet in diameter, and 50 pounds per bundle.

Backyard Composting (not collected):

compostYard Waste
– composting involves mixing yard and household organic waste in a pile or bin and providing conditions that encourage decomposition. The decomposition process is fueled by millions of microscopic organisms (bacteria, fungi) that take up residence inside your compost pile, continuously devouring and recycling it to produce a rich organic fertilizer and valuable soil amendment.

Vermicomposting – is the practice of using worms to break down food scraps. The resulting material is a mix of worm castings and decomposed food scraps.The word “vermi” is Latin for worm. Worms like to feed on slowly decomposing organic materials like fruit and vegetable scraps. The worms produce castings that are full of beneficial microbes and nutrients, which makes a great plant fertilizer. Worms are very efficient at breaking down food scraps and can eat over half their body weight in organic matter every day.

For more information, check out our FREE Composting Workshops!

Columbia’s Own Compost is also available for purchase 

Recycle any day of the week at a Recycling Drop-off Center!

Recycle yard waste any day of the week at a Yard Waste Drop-Off Center!

Additional curbside: over-sized items, appliances, special assistance, etc.

Note: Only EMPTY motor oil and antifreeze containers may be place in blue recycling bags.  Containers with product remaining can be recycled as Household Hazardous Waste at 1313 Lakeview Avenue. The hazardous waste can be dropped-off for free on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays (8:00am-noon), April through November.

Residential FAQ

The caps or lids on glass bottles/ jars are made of metal. These are not recyclable and should be disposed as trash. This is different from plastic bottles, where the caps should be left on the container to recycle both items. The plastic bottle and cap are often different types of plastic, but they can now be separated mechanically at the processing facility. --The labels can remain attached to glass or plastic containers.
Mail envelopes with a plastic window can be recycled. You might choose to remove the plastic window, but it is not necessary for recycling the paper. Cardboard boxes might contain packaging tape or staples. These also do not need to be removed, but we still request that you fold the boxes, if possible.
Beverage bottles can be rinsed, but it is not necessary - they will be cleaned at the processing facility. Glass jars might require some cleaning to remove sauces, jams, and peanut butter. If there is food residue stuck to the item that is larger than a quarter, it should cleaned or not recycled. The same is true for cardboard pizza boxes. Here are some general guidelines to follow... (1) If the item is losing shape due to grease, it should not be recycled. (2) If the item has uneaten food, it should be emptied into a trash container or compost site and then get recycled. (3) Any cheese or sauce stuck to an item should not amount to more than a quarter in size.
No. --You only need to separate materials by two categories: mixed fibers and mixed containers. The mixed fiber recycling includes cardboard, office paper, newspaper, magazines, and any other paper material. The mixed container category includes aluminum cans, glass bottles, metal food cans, and all types of plastic (except Styrofoam and plastic film/ bags). You do not need to separate different colors of glass or numbered plastics.
No. --The aluminum beverage cans that are recyclable in the City of Columbia are considered a different material from aluminum foil. We do not have the space at our recycling facility to separate another material type and it would take a long time for a city with Columbia’s population to collect enough aluminum foil for a shipment. Aluminum foil is often covered in cooking fats, oils, and greases, and sometime include uneaten food. These contaminants would attract wildlife and create an unsafe work environment at our recycling facility, and the volume of waste diverted from our landfill would not be worth the additional costs.
No. --The blue recycling bags cannot be recycled in the City of Columbia. Once the bags arrive at the Material Recovery Facility, two workers break open the bags and place the loose material on a conveyor line to be sorted. The empty plastic bags are set to the side and would then be transported to the landfill.
Plastic bags can only be recycled when they are completely clean and sorted from other materials. Retail and grocery stores can offer collection bins for plastics shopping bags because they are already clean and not mixed with any other materials. Those bags are sent directly to a processing facility (not the City of Columbia). The blue recycling bags that are used in curbside collection often have food and beverage residue stuck to the plastic. This would not be a problem for other materials (e.g. aluminum cans), where contaminants get incinerated before the material begins to melt in a furnace. If a banana peel is mixed with recycled plastic bags, the plastic would just melt around the banana peel and cause issues for processing equipment.
The City's Recycling and Yard Waste Drop-off Centers are open 7 days/week and can be used by any resident.