What Can Be Recycled at MIT?
The MIT recyclable waste stream is divided into several categories: Single Stream, Organics/Food Waste, Plastic Bags, Batteries, eWaste, Books, and Clothing. To find out how to recycle daily use items, see the list below.
MIT Recycling also manages recycling streams for yard waste, wood, metal, tires, and materials from construction and development.
Questions about recycling in the residence halls can be directed to the individual house managers.
MIT accepts for recycling all types of batteries, including alkaline batteries. Batteries that must be recycled include: rechargeable batteries such as nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, lithium ion (button batteries used in watches and hearing aids), laptop batteries and lead acid batteries.
Battery terminals should be tapedas a fire prevention measure during collection and transportation.
Battery disposal bins are located in DMCs and all residence halls. You may also take batteries to the Stratton Student Center, lower level; Facilities Stockroom, E19-107; and the VWR Stockroom, 56-068.
Donate used books in our “Got Books" bins. There are two book bin
Got Books? bin located outside between Building 46 and Albany Garage and another in the West Lot off Vassar Street. The items you donate are sold to raise money for local causes. Items accepted include:
- DVD and VHS videos
- Audio books
Note: Items not accepted are encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, or catalogs.
Small pieces of cardboard can be thrown in the desk-side bins or common area blue-top bins. Boxes and larger amounts can be placed beside the desk side bins and will be removed for recycling. Please help our custodians by flattening all of your cardboard boxes.
Donate used clothing and shoes in one of the three Planet Aid bins on campus: between Building 46 and Albany Garage, between Buildings W34/W35 and Kresge Lot, and in Westgate Lot across from Building W71.
Facilities removes electronic waste at no charge. To arrange for a pick up, go to Service Requests in Atlas. Please allow 3 to 5 days for the movers to come and take the equipment. Examples of eWaste include:
- CRTs, CPUs
- DVD players
- Fax machines
Note: Before recycling electronic material, make sure that you deactivate the Property Office sticker and erase the hard drive to remove sensitive data. Contact Mike McCarthy of the Property Office at firstname.lastname@example.org and IS&T at 253-1101 for more information.
The Recycling Office works with the community on collecting organic/compostable materials. In the fall of 2016 the program changed because of the limitations on what the farms will accept. Items that can be included are:
- Food scraps only. These can include fruits, vegetables, meat and bones
- Leaves from office plants
Note: Do not include paper, plastics of any kind, dinnerware or styrofoam food containers.
State and Federal laws prohibit the disposal of mercury-containing light bulbs in the trash. Mercury containing light bulbs include:
- Compact Fluorescent (CFL)
- Ultraviolet (UV)
To replace light bulbs or to reqest pickup of light bulbs, submit a request through Atlas under Repairs.
Non Recyclable Items
- Candy wrappers
- Styrofoam food containers
- Tissues, paper towels (napkins may be composted)
Styrofoam products are expensive to recycle and are toxic in to the planet, so please ask vendors to avoid using them. You can donate reused packing peanuts in clean and usable condition to Mail Services for reuse. Send the peanuts to Mail Services in sealed bags through interdepartmental mail, place sealed bags on top of campus mail boxes, addressed to: Packing Peanuts Reuse Program, WW15.
Due to contamination in the bins, the location of plastic bag receptacles on campus was changed from public areas. The Recycling Office is adding recycling stations to DMCs around campus. These include receptacles for plastic bags, technocycle, and batteries. In addition, there is a plastic bag container at the elevator near the Stata Loading Dock and one in the basement of the Stratton Student Center.
Items accepted in the plastic bag recycling stream include:
- Air packets (deflate them first)
- Bubble wrap
- Journal/magazine wrap
- Plastic bags
- Plastic wrap (must be clean and free of food residue)
- Shrink wrap
Plastic bags should not be placed in blue recycling bins because they interfere with the materials when being sorted at the recycling facility.
Single Stream Recycling
In single stream, the collection and processing systems are designed to handle a
mixture of paper, plastics and cans together.
Include the following in your desk-side bin or common area bins:
- Aluminum (pie plates/trays/foil)
- Aseptic containers (soy milk containers, drink boxes)
- Books (hardcover and softcover)
- Cardboard/brown paper bags
- Glass bottles/jars (any color)
- Junk mail/envelopes (all types)
- Metal cans (tin/steel/aluminum)
- Milk/juice cartons
- Newspapers, magazines, catalogs
- Paper (all colors, staples/paperclips are okay)
- Paperboard (cereal/shoe boxes)
- Pizza boxes*
- Plastic bottles and containers numbered #1-7* (soda/juice/water bottles) *No black plastic is accepted because its color may contaminate other recycling during the breakdown of the plastic material
- Plastic food containers (cottage cheese/margarine/yogurt)
- Telephone books
Note: Please make sure bottles and cans are empty. In order to avoid contamination, please empty containers before putting them in a recycling bin.
* Clean pizza boxes are easily recyclable. If the box is saturated with oil, however, it should go in the trash. Sometimes a box may need to be ripped into two pieces. More information is available on what to do with pizza boxes
The Recycling Office does not provide shredding services. To dispose of paper files use a shredding service or purchase an in-office shredder. Sensitive information should not be recycled in the blue recycling bins. For information about what must be protected and the best way to dispose of paper and electronic files, visit the Protecting Sensitive Information web pages.
The following items may be recycled as TechnoCycle:
- CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, Zip disks
- Audio and video tapes
- Cell phones and pagers
- Keyboards and mice
- External drives and cables
Note: Before recycling electronic material, make sure that you deactivate the Property Office sticker and erase sensitive data. Contact Mike McCarthy of the Property Office at email@example.com and IS&T at 253-1101 for more information.
Recycle small empty toner cartridges and inkjet cartridges in the Distributed Mail Centers (DMCs). Large, empty toner cartridges can be returned to the manufacturer in the same box in which they came. Instructions are available on the manufacturer's website.
Large appliances must be removed by an MIT Recycling Team member. To schedule a pick-up of your items, submit work order request through Atlas. Examples of white goods include:
- Washing machines
- Other large metal appliances
Labs should follow the MIT Environment, Health and Safey (EHS) Deactivating and Decommissioning Equipment Standard Operating Procedure and work with the MIT Property Office before scheduling a pickup.
Note: The proper disposal of white goods is regulated under both Massachusetts and, in most cases, Federal Law. Responsible handling of your white goods ensures that MIT and your department are complying with disposal restrictions. Equipment that has been improperly abandoned will be traced back to the source for removal charges.