Working Green at MIT - Working Group Recycling Committee


  • Reuse/Recycle
  • How to Conserve
  • Buy Green
  • Skip to content
    News & Events
  • About Us
  • Volunteer

Recycle at MIT

batteries | cans, bottles, plastics | electronics & TechnoCycle
paper products and cardboard | toner & inkjet cartridges


Domestically manufactured alkaline batteries made after 1994 no longer contain mercury, so they can be disposed of safely in regular trash. However, nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries, button batteries (like those used in watches and hearing aids), and the lithium batteries in computers and cameras should NOT be put in regular trash.

MIT recycles the following batteries:

  • Nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd) rechargables
  • Nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH)
  • Lithium ion (Li-ion)
  • Laptop batteries
  • Small lead acid (< 2 lbs.)

To recycle batteries:

  • Rechargeable batteries can be dropped off at the supply room window in Building E19-111 between 7am-3pm.
  • Non-alkaline batteries can be dropped off at the front desk of Building N52-496. Or you can send all reasonably sized non-alkaline batteries via interdepartmental mail to: "TechnoCycle, NW62"
  • You can also make arrangements with the Environmental Management Office to have your batteries picked up in a location closer to your department, lab, or center. Call x2-3477 for more information.
  • For lead acid larger than 2 lbs. please contact MIT's Environmental Management Office to schedule a hazardous waste pickup.

For more information:

Cans, bottles, and plastics

"Cans & bottles" bins

Recycle all glass, aluminum, metal, and all plastics (numbered 1-7). Any glass, aluminum, or plastic item can be placed in a recycling bin. Check the bottom of plastic cups, plates, utensils, catering trays and lids, and aluminum pans for the recycling arrows. Remove all food from the containers because food oils contaminate recycling. It is not necessary to remove labels or lids


All glass bottles and jars of any color can be recycled. No pyrex, broken glass, light bulbs, or ceramics.

Aluminum and metal

Recycle food and drink containers only. Larger metal items can be recycled by submitting a request via the Building Services tab in SAPweb.


Any plastic item with a recycling arrow (numbered 1-7) on the bottom is recyclable at MIT (excluding plastic bags - see section on plastic bags below for more information). Check for the recycling arrows on all plastics, including plastic food platters and covers, and clear plastic food containers. Please, no polystyrene, or Styrofoam containers, cups, or packing materials.

Do NOT place these items in any MIT recycling bins:

  • Styrofoam containers and cups
  • Paper cups or plates
  • Napkins
  • Plastic bags (see section on plastic bags, below)
  • Bubble wrap, air pockets (see section on plastic bags below)
  • Plastic cling wrap or baggies (see section on plastic bags below)
  • Packing materials, such as peanuts, polystyrene Styrofoam blocks

Plastic bags are recycled in a separate recycling stream from other plastics. Please do not put them the commingles recycling bins. Put plastic bags, bubble wrap, journal wrap, air pockets, and plastic wrap in an envelope (no larger than 10" x 13", please) and place in an interdepartmental mailbox addressed to "Recycling, NW62".

Electronics & TechnoCycle

TechnoCycle bins

TechnoCycle bins are located in most MIT mailrooms. These bins will accept:

  • All electronic media and their cases: diskettes, zip disks, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, DVDs, video tape, audio tape, game cartridges, DAT, DLT and virtually all other computer tapes
  • Hard drives, Zip and Jaz drives, jump drives, etc.
  • Inkjet cartridges
  • All cell phones, pagers, PDAs and their chargers, cables, and headset accessories
  • All rechargeable batteries (alkaline batteries can go in the trash) and their chargers
  • All small computer accessories such as keyboards, mice, MP3 players, iPods, digital cameras, hand-held scanners, handheld games and other connected devices
  • All cords, cables, boards, chips, etc. removed from a computer
  • Laptop computers*

Small amounts of TechnoCycle can be sent via interdepartmental mail to: "TechnoCycle, NW62."

For more information on TechnoCycle recycling:

  • Visit the Department of Facilities
  • Email or

Monitors, CPUs, printers, fax machines and other equipment, or large volumes of TechnoCycle*:

Facilities no longer charges for the pick-up of computer CPUs, monitors, printers, fax machines, and other electronics that weigh under 50 lbs for recycling. Go to the Building Services tab in SAPweb to request a pick-up.

For the pick-up and disposal of computer equipment weighing over 50 lbs, you must provide a cost object when filling out the form in SAPweb.

Smaller electronic media, accessories, and rechargeable batteries should go in Technocycle bins located in most MIT mailrooms.

* Items with an MIT sticker must be deactivated by the Property Office before equipment can be recycled. Call MIT extension 3-2779.

Paper products and cardboard

Paper recycling bins

Recycle all paper in MIT's desk-side gray or blue paper recycling bins, blue-top "Slim Jim" bins, or large common area "newspaper" bins.

DO recycle in paper bins:

  • All white and colored paper
  • Newspapers
  • Glossy paper, junk mail, magazines, journals
  • Envelopes with or without plastic windows
  • Labels, tape, and self-stick notes
  • Carbonless forms
  • Plastic/metal spiral bound paper (with metal or adhesive are OK)
  • File folders (with metal or adhesive are OK)
  • Manila envelopes (with metal or adhesive are OK)
  • Flattened cardboard and paperboard
  • "Aseptic" foil lined drink cartons (milk cartons, juice boxes and soy milk containers: please empty and rinse)

DO NOT recycle in bins:

  • Trash
  • Tissues, paper towels, napkins
  • Waxed cardboard
  • Polystyrene or Styrofoam
  • Pizza boxes or any paper item with food or other organic waste on it
  • Tyvek envelopes (you can recycle them by mailing them to DuPont)
  • Carbon paper
  • Hardcover books (email or donate to Got Books, see below)

Recycling cardboard

Small pieces of corrugated cardboard and paperboard can be thrown in the desk-side bins or common area blue-top "Slim Jim" bins. Boxes and larger amounts can be placed beside the desk side bins and will be removed for recycling by Custodial Services. Please help our custodians by flattening all of your cardboard boxes. Reuse packing material.

Phonebooks & catalogs

Soft cover paperback books, glossy or plain paper catalogs, phone books and course catalogs can be put in desk side recycling bins. To recycle large numbers of phonebooks or catalogs, submit a request via the Building Services tab in SAPweb.

Hardcover books

Hardcover books can be placed in book donation bins located in back of Next House (Building W71) and on the north side of Building 56. Contents of these bins are picked up by an organization called Got Books. Books may also be donated to the MIT Student Furniture Exchange.

Toner & inkjet cartridges

All MIT Distributed Mail Centers (DMC's), contain drop boxes for used toner cartridges. If your mail room needs a bin, or your bin needs emptying, submit a request via the Building Services tab in SAPweb.

Also in most mail rooms, you can find postage-paid mailers for recycling smaller inkjet cartridges. Smaller inkjet cartridges can also be recycled in TechnoCycle bins.

Buying recycled toner and inkjet cartridges creates demand for recycled cartridges and closes the loop. Office Depot sells most types of recycled or remanufactured cartridges. For more, see Buying Green.