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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.


Aluminum foil
Cans (aluminum, steel)
Cartons (milk and juice)
Filing cabinets (metal)

White goods
Food scraps
Glass bottles
Light bulbs
Manila envelopes
Non recyclable items
Packing peanuts
Paper bags

Pizza boxes
Plastics (#1, 2, and 5)
Plastic bags
Plastic wrap
Shrink wrap
Shredded documents
Soy milk containers
Telephone book
Toner cartridges


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.

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Donate used hardcover and paperback books in the More Than Words bins. Book donation bins are located between Building 46 and Albany Garage or in the Westgate Lot across from Next House, Building W71. Books donated to these bins support the efforts of More Than Words, a nonprofit that supports disadvantaged youth.

  • Books
  • CDs
  • DVD and VHS videos
  • Audio books

Note: Items not accepted are encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, or catalogs.

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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 your boxes.

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Donate used or damaged clothing, textiles, shoes and even stuffed animals in one of two Bay State Textile bins on campus: between Building 46 and Albany Garage or in the Westgate Lot across from Next House, Building W71. Even torn or damaged clothes and fabrics are sorted for textile recycling.

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Facilities removes electronic waste at no charge. To arrange for a pick up, go to Service Requests in Atlas. Pick up normally takes 3 to 5 days, but may take longer during busier times of the year. Examples of eWaste include:

  • Copiers
  • CRTs, CPUs
  • DVD players
  • Laptops
  • Microwaves
  • Printers

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 and IS&T at 253-1101 for more information.

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Food Waste

The Recycling Office works with the community on collecting organic/food waste. Items that can be included are:

  • Food scraps only. These can include fruits, vegetables, and meat
  • Leaves from office plants

Note: Do not include napkins, paper towels, paper, plastics of any kind, dinnerware or styrofoam food containers.

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Items not accepted in Single Stream Recycling

  • Black plastic
  • Candy wrappers
  • Chip bags
  • Coffee cups and lids
  • Disposable gloves
  • Face masks
  • Food waste
  • Hardcover books
  • Ice and liquids
  • Packing peanuts
  • Padded envelopes
  • Plastic bags
  • Single use utensils
  • Styrofoam
  • Tissues, paper towels, napkins

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Light Bulbs

State and Federal laws prohibit the disposal of mercury-containing light bulbs in the trash. Mercury containing light bulbs include:

  • Fluorescent
  • Compact Fluorescent (CFL)
  • Ultraviolet (UV)

To replace light bulbs or to request pickup of light bulbs, submit a request through Atlas under Repairs.

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Packing Peanuts

Styrofoam products are expensive to recycle and are toxic to the planet, so please ask vendors to avoid using them. You can donate packing peanuts in clean and usable condition to Mail Services for reuse. Send the packing 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.

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Plastic Bags

Due to contamination in the bins, plastic bag receptacles are located in areas requiring an ID card or password like recycling stations in DMCs around campus. These recycling stations include receptacles for plastic bags, technocycle, and batteries. Public areas that include a plastic bag container are at the elevator near the Stata Loading Dock and in the basement of the Stratton Student Center.

Items accepted in the plastic bag recycling stream must be clean and free of food residue. They include:

  • Air packets (deflate them first)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Journal/magazine wrap
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic wrap
  • 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.

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Single Stream Recycling

In single stream, the collection and processing systems are designed to handle a
mixture of paper, plastics and cans together.

All items should be clean and must not contain any food waste. Items to include in your desk-side bin or common area bins include:

  • Aluminum (cans/pie plates/trays/foil)
  • Cardboard/brown paper bags
  • Cartons (juice/milk)
  • Glass bottles/jars (any color)
  • Junk mail/envelopes (all types)
  • Metal cans (tin/steel/aluminum)
  • Newspapers, magazines, catalogs
  • Paper and paper bags (all colors, staples/paperclips are okay)
  • Paperboard (cereal/shoe boxes)
  • Pizza boxes with no oil or food*
  • Plastic bottles and containers numbered #1, 2 and 5. 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)
  • Softcover Books
  • Telephone books

Note: Please make sure bottles and cans are empty. In order to avoid contamination, empty containers before putting them in a recycling bin.

Shredded Documents

Shredded paper is not accepted in the Single Stream Recycling Program and the Recycling Office does not provide shredding services.

Sensitive information should not be recycled in the blue recycling bins. To dispose of confidential paper files use a shredding service. 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.

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For small electronics, please use TechnoCycle bins located in Distributed Mail Centers. If you have a large amount of TechnoCycle, go to Service Requests in Atlas to arrange for a pick up. Pick up normally takes 3 to 5 days, but may take longer during busier times of the year.

The following items may be recycled as TechnoCycle:

  • CDs, DVDs, Zip disks
  • Cell phones and pagers
  • External drives and cables
  • Keyboards and mice
  • iPads
  • Telephones

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 and IS&T at 253-1101 for more information.

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Toner Cartridges

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.

Otherwise, you can recycle empty toner cartridges and inkjet cartridges in the Distributed Mail Centers (DMCs).

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White Goods and Large Items

Appliances (White Goods) and large items may be removed by the MIT Recycling crew at no cost to customers. To schedule a pick-up of your items, submit a work request through Atlas. Pick up normally takes 3 to 5 days, but may take longer during busier times of the year.

Examples of white goods and large items include:

  • Filing cabinets
  • Incubators
  • Refrigerators
  • Washing machines
  • Other large metal appliances

Labs should follow the MIT Environment, Health and Safey (EHS) Deactivating and Decommissioning Equipment procedures found on the EHS Waste Management page 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.

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 Order Recycling Services
 Computer Hardware Recycling
 Battery Disposal
 How to Recycle at MIT
 TechnoCycle/Electronic Waste
 Lab Specific Recycling
 Special Stream Bin Locations
 Waste Bin Labels


Department Directory

Grounds Services

Michael Seaberg

Customer Service Center

Office Hours: M - F, 7AM - 4:30PM
Phone: 617-253-4948
Building: 7-019

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