Howard County hopes to save about $45,000 in the next seven weeks by recycling 2 million pounds of leaves.
Although the "pilot recycling program" targets 6,000 homes in four neighborhoods scattered throughout the county, anyone can participate.
Residents can bag and bring their leaves to a recycling truck that will travel to nine locations in the county every week between now and Dec. 22.
Leaf pickup for people in the targeted areas will start 7 a.m. on four consecutive Saturdays beginning Nov. 10.
Prior to the pilot recycling program here, most county residents got rid of their leaves by bundling them as trash. Dumping leaves in the landfill cost the county $45 a ton, Fields said.
By participating in the pilot program, the county will receive free a composting service that otherwise might have cost $30,000 to $50,000, said county spokesman Linda Fields.
Collected leaves will go to a company experimenting with a new hardwood mulch process that mixes leaves with the timber.
Paper bags must be used at curbside because plastic cannot be processed by the leaf recycler. Plastic bags in some areas may be used to cart leaves to the recycling truck.
Residents in the targeted areas -- Ellicott City, Simpsonville, Elkridge and the Columbia neighborhoods of Thunder Hill and Stevens Forest -- are barred from using plastic bags. They must use paper bags or put their leaves in an open trash can.
Special 30-gallon chest-high leaf bags made of paper are being sold at many local grocery and hardware stores. Regular paper grocery bags are acceptable, too, the county says.
Residents outside the targeted areas who chose not to recycle may still bundle their leaves as trash as long as the leaves and other household litter do not exceed the four bags permitted per pickup. When left as trash, leaves may be bagged any way a person likes.
The recycling truck will be present Mondays, 12:30 to 6:30 p.m., The Mall in Columbia; Tuesdays, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., at both Clarksville Fire Station and Dobbin Center; Wednesdays, 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. near Sewell's Hardware in Ellicott City; Thursdays, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. at both Glenwood Gardens and Elkridge; Fridays, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., Lisbon Shopping Center; Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Alpha Ridge Landfill and Weis Markets in north Laurel.
The four pilot target areas are:
* Ellicott City -- all houses bordered by Interstate 70 in the north, Route 29 in the east, Route 40 in the south, and Bethany Lane in the west.
* Elkridge -- houses inside the county border, Interstate 95 in the southeast, Montgomery Road in the south and southwest, and Columbia Pike in the northwest.
* Simpsonville -- Route 29 in the east, Route 216 in the south, Pindell School Road-Cedar Lane in the west and Owen Brown Road in the north.
* Columbia -- All of Thunder Hill neighborhood and most of Stevens Forest, except for the apartment complexes.
County Executive M. Elizabeth Bobo wrote 6,000 "Dear Resident" letters Oct. 25 explaining the county's plans.