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New recycling bins appearing on campus

Staff from Facilities and other departments as well as student volunteers worked together this week to distribute more than 400 new recycling bins next to trash bins in indoor common areas around campus.

The new bins with blue tops are for mixed paper (including newspapers and magazines), and the bins with green tops are for commingled goods (aluminum cans, glass bottles and plastics numbered 1-7). Later this month, 125 new recycling bins for commingled goods will be distributed next to all campus outdoor trash bins. (Food waste should continue to be put in regular trash cans.)

The effort had its roots last summer, when Jamie Lewis Keith, managing director for environmental programs and risk management and senior counsel, convened a new Environmental Programs Task Force. It includes representatives from Facilities, Procurement, the Campus Activities Complex, Residential Life and Student Life Programs, the Copy Technology Centers, Publishing Services Bureau, the Safety Office, and interested students, many from SAVE (Share a Vital Earth).

A survey conducted by SAVE in the fall identified the locations of trash bins in campus common areas to determine the need for companion recycling bins, and the task force solved the logistical challenges to devise an expanded recycling program for MIT.

Campus recycling options have expanded in another way as well. The gray plastic bins that MIT offices have been using since 1990 for white paper recycling can now be used for colored and white paper, newspapers and magazines, envelopes (with or without windows), computer printouts, self-stick notes, carbonless forms and manila envelopes (with metal clips removed). These materials can have black or colored ink and/or toner from copiers and laser printers. Labels will soon be added to the sides of the gray bins to indicate the wider range of papers that now can be recycled in them. But don't wait for a label to expand the use of these bins.

MIT is now recycling about 5 percent of its total waste. "By increasing recycling opportunities and making it easier to recycle, we should be able to increase recycling to 30 to 40 percent within the next year," Ms. Keith said.

"This expanded recycling program represents a collaborative effort among staff and students across the Institute," she added. "Although all members of the task force have made important contributions, James Wallace, Kevin Healy and Paul Pino from Facilities, William Van Schalkwyk of Environmental Programs and SAVE have led this task force initiative."

"The efforts of the Task Force are a terrific example of how students and administrators at MIT can work well together," said SAVE member Sam Arey, a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering. "Students have taken the time to involve themselves with these tasks on a committed level, and the administrators are taking our participation seriously."

For more information about MIT's expanded recycling program, contact Mr. Healy, recycling coordinator in Facilities, at x3-6360, or e-mail

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 8, 1999.

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