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Recycling Effort Continues Growth

MIT's recycling efforts continue to grow, and the Department of Physical Plant plans to complete the next phase of its program by June 1994.

Newspaper recycling began on a trial basis last year, when temporary containers were placed in the lobbies of Bldgs 5, 7, 10, 8 and 2. The program has been successful, and permanent containers are now being designed and built with the aid of a Class of `93 class gift, according to Ground Services Coordinator Jennifer Combs of Physical Plant.

White paper recycling is available on 75 percent of the campus, and that program will likely be expanded to the entire campus by next spring, which is also the target for having permanent newspaper containers in place, Ms. Combs said. Also by that point, the department hopes to have implemented a means of recycling telephone directories, she added.

Plain paper faxes, staples and laser-printed paper are acceptable in the white paper containers, but paper towels, catalogues, glossy faxes and paper clips are not.

In fiscal 1992-93, the Institute recycled 335 tons of material including pallets, yard waste and scrap metal, Ms. Combs said. Other materials that MIT recycles are cardboard (Lab Supplies turns in more than 800 pounds each week at its Bldg WW15 location), and commingled plastics, glass and metal containers from Food Services' Faculty Club, Refresher Course and Walker Memorial locations.

Those commingled items aren't yet recycled at the Stratton Student Center, but Physical Plant is trying to formulate plans to do so, Ms. Combs said. The building "is one that's going to take a lot of planning because there's absolutely no storage, and there's a huge volume" of materials, she said. The student center now recycles only white paper, largely because the loading dock is so small that there is little room for the additional bins that would be needed for recyclables. Concerns about possible odors and rodents preclude storage of empty food containers indoors, she noted.

After they leave MIT, many of the recycled items go to a plant in Charlestown, where they are sorted and taken away for marketing. White paper goes to a facility in Canada.

MIT currently doesn't generate enough volume of recycled goods to realize a profit from selling them, and some items cost money to dispose of, Ms. Combs said. However, savings are realized from reducing the amount of non-recyclable waste the Institute must pay to have removed, so the program as a whole roughly breaks even, she said.

The housing office runs its own recycling program for the dormitories. Those with questions about dorm recycling can call Jack Corcoran at x3-2863 or Bailey Hewit at x3-5963. Students and staff living off-campus in Cambridge can get information via the city's recycling hotline at 349-4005. Anyone wishing a white paper receptacle can call Ms. Combs at x3-7671.

A version of this article appeared in the September 29, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 8).

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