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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a recycling bin?
Do commingles have to be cleaned?
Can pizza boxes be recycled?
Can aseptic containers, like soy milk and juice boxes, be recycled?
Are tissues, paper towels, and napkins recyclable?
Does MIT provide a service for shredding and recycling paper?
How do I recycle the shredded paper from my office shredder?
Do I have to recycle my old computer monitor?
We have an old printer that no longer works. Can I recycle it?
What kinds of plastics are recyclable? 
Are plastic bags recyclable at MIT?
Where do I recycle empty toner cartridges?
Can I recycle Tyvek® envelopes and overhead transparencies at MIT?
Can I recycle or reuse packing peanuts?
I'd like to carpool to work. Who do I contact for a list of interested parties?
Where can I find a caterer who recycles?

 

How do I get a recycling bin?

For a free blue deskside paper recycling bin go to the Building Services tab in SAPweb. Request a sticker to update your older "white paper only" bin, by emailing , giving your name and MIT address. The Department of Facilities provides the "cans and bottles" containers (slim-jims) for public spaces, but it does not supply them to individual labs, department kitchens, or offices. You can order a slim-jim online from Office Depot. Order through SAPweb to get a low price and quick delivery. Check out item numbers 494708, 110124, and 110099. To get other types of recycling bins, including special event recycling, see Get a bin.

Do commingles have to be cleaned?

Cans and bottles DO need to be empty but they DO NOT need to be rinsed. As long as they are relatively free of food debris, all glass, plastic, and aluminum items—such as plastic cups, plates and utensils, catering trays and lids, and aluminum pans—can be placed in these bins. Please scrape plates free of food and never put napkins, plastic bags, or plastic wrap in MIT recycling bins.

Can pizza boxes be recycled?

No. Cardboard pizza boxes can't be recycled because of the cheese and oil residue. The primary contaminant to avoid in paper recycling is food waste.  Never recycle any paper products with food or organic matter on them. Do not recycle paper plates.

Can aseptic containers, like soy milk and juice boxes, be recycled?

Yes. Please empty, rinse, and place in MIT's paper recycling bins.

Are tissues, paper towels, and napkins recyclable?

No. Tissues and paper towels are not recyclable because they may have organic matter on them: food, germs, mold, etc, that will contaminate other items to be recycled. Another reason not to recycle paper towels and tissues is that paper can be recycled only so many times. Paper fiber gets shorter each time it's recycled, and by the time it's towel or tissue, the fiber is pretty short—this is the last stop in the recycling process.

To help sustain the market for recycled paper, buy products with post-consumer recycled content. Some offerings from Office Depot's ECAT site:

  • Office Depot® Recycled Paper Towels, Roll Of 85 Towels, Case Of 6 Rolls, Item # 507554;
  • Office Depot® Brand Lunch Napkins, 11 3/10" x 12 3/4", White, Pack Of 400 Item # 508338.

For more information, see Buy green.

Does MIT provide a service for shredding and recycling paper?

Grounds Services will shred, and then recycle, larger volumes of sensitive documents. To request this service, email or go to SAPweb and create an internal requisition, with the number of boxes of paper you would like shredded, your contact information, and the cost object to charge. You can also get large 90 gallon bins for recycling paper from large office clean outs: email .

How do I recycle the shredded paper from my office shredder?

Simply place shredded paper in clear plastic bags in your hallway or deskside paper recycling bin, and the custodians will recycle it with mixed paper.

Do I have to recycle my old computer monitor?

Massachusetts mandates that cathode ray tubes (CRTs), such as those in computer monitors and TV sets, be recycled. For instructions, see Electronics recycling.

We have an old printer that no longer works. Can I recycle it?

Yes! Facilities does not charge to remove computer monitors, printers, and other electronics that weigh less than 50 lbs. To arrange for a pick up of a printer, fill out the Recycling & Trash form on the SAPweb Building Services page. Allow 5 to 7 days for the movers to come and take the equipment.

The Property Office Sticker must be deactivated before equipment can be recycled. Contact the Property Office at 617-253-2779.

What kinds of plastics are recyclable?

Any plastic item with a recycling arrow (# 1-7) on the bottom is recyclable at MIT:  additionally, plastic tableware, plastic food platters and clear covers, and clear plastic food containers can be placed in the bins, as long as they are relatively free of food debris. Please, no plastic bags or plastic wrap.

Are plastic bags recyclable at MIT?

Plastic Bags are recyclable at MIT, but they should not be placed in the regular plastic recycling bins. Currently there are plastic bag recycling bins located on the first floors of Buildings 32 and W20. Plastic bags, journal wrap, bubble wrap, air packets (deflate them first), and plastic wrap may also be mailed through interoffice to "MIT Recycling/Plastic Bags, NW62."  

Plastic bags are not recycled in many municipalities, so the best option is to refuse them. Carry a canvas tote bag to the store; many stores give a discount for each reusable bag used, and some stores are starting to charge customers for each bag used. If you still find yourself with mountains of plastic bags, reuse them as garbage bags, donate them to animal shelters or dog owners, or use them as packing material.

If you are a Cambridge resident, you can drop off clean plastic bags (#1-7) at the Cambridge Recycling Drop-Off Center (located off of Hampshire Street near Central Square) For more information: http://www.cambridgema.gov/theworks/departments/recycle/Dropoff.html

Where do I recycle empty toner cartridges?

Large toner cartridges and fax roller cartridges can be recycled in the large marked cardboard bins in MIT's mailrooms. Bins are emptied monthly.

Recycle small inkjet toner cartridges by using the envelope provided with your new cartridge. Put the envelope in any US mailbox.

Can I recycle Tyvek® envelopes and overhead transparencies at MIT?

We do not recycle these items at MIT, but they are easily recyclable by sending them to the addresses below. Create a local collection area for used Tyvek® envelopes and another for unwanted transparencies.

Tyvek® envelopes, like the envelopes used as Fed Ex paks, are recyclable through a program that converts them into construction materials as an alternative to wood. To participate, turn a Tyvek® envelope inside out, so the unprinted white surface shows on the outside. Stuff it with other used Tyvek® envelopes for recycling.  When full, address and mail to:

Tyvek® Recycle
Attn. Shirley Cimburke
2400 Elliham Avenue #A
Richmond, VA 23237

You can also call 1-866-33-Tyvek® and ask about the pouch program for recycling. Each pouch holds approximately 200 used Tyvek® envelopes.

Overhead transparencies are recyclable by mailing them (remove any paper) to:

3M Recycle Program
c/o Gemark
99 Stevens Lane
Exeter, PA 18643

Can I recycle or reuse packing peanuts?

No recycling available so ask vendors to avoid using these. Donate reused packing peanuts in clean and usable condition to Mail Services for reuse in their packing service program. Mail Services will store a quantity sufficient to their needs; surplus packing peanuts are available to the MIT community by calling x3-6000. 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. Visit MIT's Facilities site for more information on the packing service. Please note: this program is only for packing peanuts: no other packing materials will be accepted.

I'd like to carpool to work. Who do I contact for a list of interested parties?

There are plenty of options. Find out which is right for you by visiting:
http://web.mit.edu/facilities/transportation/shuttles/index.html
http://web.mit.edu/facilities/transportation/carpools/index.html
http://www.vanpoolusa.com
http://www.commute.com/

Where can I find a caterer who recycles?

The first step is to encourage all caterers to recycle and to reduce their packaging, disposables, plastic wrap, etc. If you are a good customer, or have a good suggestion, they should listen to you! Basil Tree Catering offers biodegradable plates, cups and utensils made of corn. Basil Tree works closely with many of Boston's charitable organizations and shelters, donating food, services and 10% of our profits each year. They recycle, and are happy to pick up our used plastic ware to help you recycle as well. Just ask for the special pick up bag when you place your order. For more, see Buy green.