Holiday Light Recycling Collection

November 17th – December 5th

Not sure what to do with your old strands of holiday lights? Starting November 17th through December 5th, we will be accepting light strands for recycling at our public recycling drop off center. Light strands should be placed in the specially marked collection containers located at the drop off site, and we ask visitors to remember packaging, extra bulbs, plastic bags, string reels, and other items should not be placed in these container with the strands.

5 Reasons to Visit MSU Recycling’s Drop Off Center

Whether you are a veteran recycler or new to the concept of sustainability, here are 5 reasons why you should visit MSU Recycling's Drop Off Center:

1. Free Recycling Service

That's right; its free! Our facility provides public recycling drop off services at no cost to visitors. Also, while our first priority is to provide recycling options for the MSU campus community, we do not restrict access to our drop off center, but instead encourage everyone to be "Spartan Green" and recycle.

2. Open 24/7

Don't worry about getting here before we close, because our drop off services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even when we close our main drop off location for temporary servicing, we still provide temporary drop off options across the street.

3. Wide Variety of Items Accepted

Our drop off center houses 13 permanent collection containers, accepting the following materials:
  • 3 Cardboard Containers - where visitors can dispose of any cardboard items they can fit within the container
  • 1 Boxboard Container - where visitors can dispose of any freezer packaging, or other boxboard items
  • 1 Paper Container - where visitors can dispose of all their mixed paper types together
  • 1 Newspaper Container - where visitors can sort out their old newspaper collection for disposal
  • 1 Glass Container - where visitors can dispose of any colored, non-tempered glass
  • 1 Metal Container - where visitors can dispose of clean, non-hazardous metals, such as household tin and aluminum cans
  • 3 Plastic Containers - where visitors can dispose of clean, non-hazardous plastic items #1 - 7; please note that this does not include Polypropylene (Styrofoam), nor should plastic bags or film be disposed of in these containers
  • 2 Plastic Bag Containers - where visitors can dispose of clean plastic bags
  • 1 Milk Jug Container for Cloudy #2 Plastics - where visitors can separate their cloudy #2 plastics, such as milk jugs, for disposal
In addition to the materials we can collect at our drop off center, we are also able to provide limited drop off services for specialty item at our Surplus Store across the street. Items that can be collected at our Surplus Store include:
  • Confidential paper documents for shredding
  • Oversized recyclable items (such as large boxes full of books)
  • Reusable surplus items

4. LEED Certified

Along with providing public recycling options, our drop off center is part of our larger, Gold Level, LEED Certified facility, and contains multiple LEED features, such as:
  • 5 solar powered light poles
  • Rain gardens with native Michigan species
For visitors interested in learning more about our LEED facility, consider scheduling a facility tour.

5. Great Location

Located on the northwest corner of Farm Lane and Green Way, the MSU Recycling Drop Off Center is a bit off the beaten path for most MSU Spartans. However, don't let its distance from central campus keep you from missing all that this delightful resource has to offer. In addition to being located directly across the street form MSU's Surplus Store and Recycling Center, our drop off site is also within walking distance of the following local attractions:
Now that you know what you've been missing, why delay? Plan your visit to MSU Recycling's Drop Off Center today and help support campus recycling efforts. For more information on what items we accept, visit our Disposal Guide, or call or email us at (517)355-1723 or Recycle@msu.edu.

Concessions Goes Greener

No, it’s not green popcorn or green ice cream, or even green eggs and ham. Concession’s manager Alan Wilkinson has taken the group’s sustainability efforts to new heights—and has become a national leader in the process.

Alan Wilkinson receiving his 2014 Be Spartan Green Award.

Alan Wilkinson receiving his 2014 Be Spartan Green Award.

It’s been a long time since Alan Wilkinson has seen a MSU football game – even though he’s been at Spartan Stadium for nearly every home game in the last 15 years.

“Yeah,” the MSU Concessions Manager laughs when asked about being a spectator. “I haven’t really been able to watch a game since I was in high school. But

even though I can’t see the field itself, I feel like I always know what’s going on in the stadium—you can just tell by the atmosphere of the event when the team is doing well. You can feel it in the air.”

Wilkinson and his Concessions team are old pros at reading the atmosphere at MSU events. The department, headed by Wilkinson and his management team of Justin Evans, Dale Nagele and Alex Terranova, provide food and beverage options to thousands (if not millions) of people during more than 400 events each year. That includes the big events like football and basketball, as well as smaller or less frequent events, such as the Muscular Dystrophy Walk, the MSU Car Show or Vet-A-Visit.

“No matter what the size of the event, we always want to be part of the fun,” said Wilkinson. “People come out to watch the team, see a show, or walk around the exhibition, but we want to make sure that Concessions is part of that fun time. We’re always looking for opportunities for Concessions to contribute, to make a difference.”

That attitude of making a difference extends beyond providing food and beverage options to hungry fans and participants during the event—for Wilkinson and his team, it also meant finding ways to make a difference before anyone shows up and long after they’ve gone home.

Sustainability Before, During and After
For many years prior to Wilkinson’s leadership, the concessions team had been donating leftover food items to Lansing’s Food Movers Program and recycling cardboard regularly. But as Michigan State’s sustainability efforts began to ramp up, Wilkinson knew Concessions had to be part of the solution as well. That meant taking a look at the entire life cycle of concessions products — from sourcing, product selection, preparation and disposal — and finding new and creative ways to lessen the impact on the environment and keep as much out of the landfills as possible.

Q&A with Concessions Manager Alan Wilkinson

What’s the most interesting thing Concessions has ever sent to the MSU Surplus store?
One year we had a really mild winter, and we didn’t sell as much hot chocolate as we normally would have, so we had a lot leftover.  We sent them a whole bunch of 3-pound bags of hot cocoa.  That’s a lot of cocoa for one person!

What’s the most challenging place you’ve ever needed to set up concessions?
Without a doubt, it was the Game of Change they had at Jenison in 2012.  It was essentially a full, modern-day basketball game held in a building without the permanent concession facilities.  We had a good time setting up pop-up stores throughout the building, but it was a challenge!

What was the most interesting event you’ve ever attended as part of MSU Concessions?
The U2 concert.  I didn’t get to see a bit of it, but we could still hear everything!

If you could have purchased one thing from the MSU Surplus Store, what would it have been?
I saw the Zamboni there one.  That was pretty cool!

“We’ve made a focused effort on offering regionally made food at MSU events, which cuts down on shipping waste and gives us a chance to showcase local food,” said Wilkinson. The group has also made a point of selling reusable cups and mugs at events – making them collector’s items in some cases.

Concessions has been recycling cardboard and plastic for decades, and uses all paper products – they no longer use any foam — and the group works very hard to get to zero waste in the back of the house. But the biggest impact came when they looked at ways to reduce food waste from products not eligible for donation.

Make the Garbage Can Really Small
When the anaerobic digester came online at Michigan State, Wilkinson and his group were some of the first to look for ways to contribute. An anaerobic digester is an oxygen-deprived, heated, sealed tank where organic waste decomposes quickly, producing methane for fuel, and MSU has the largest system on any college campus in the United States.

“We really wanted to get started on sending inedible food waste to the digester instead of just having to throw it away,” said Wilkinson. “I didn’t want to wait; I kept asking, and we realized that we could use bins that weren’t working for the residence halls.”

The containers that had originally been used at the residence halls for food waste were becoming problematic because the handles had an area that leaked – and with the variety of food waste coming from the dining areas, it was getting pretty messy. Concessions knew those same containers would work well for their purposes, since they usually deal with opened, pre-packaged dry items, such as pretzels, popcorn and buns.

“So we went from having one huge container in each concession stand that was overflowing with trash, we replaced it with three containers: a 55-gallon bin for plastics that goes to recycling, the 30-gallon for food waste that goes to the digester, and we made the garbage can really, really small.”

Those efforts have made a huge difference: the group currently send between 500 and 800 pounds of food waste per football game to the digester—food that would have gone to the landfill in the past.

Team Green
Wilkinson credits the sustainability success to the teamwork between all the groups on campus, particularly the service provided by the Recycling Center.

“They have been instrumental to making this work,” Wilkinson said.  “They send us 90-gallon gondolas where we can dump all the collected food waste, then they will take them to the digester, empty them, rinse it out and bring it back to us ready-to-use.  It’s been a fantastic team effort.”

Wilkinson is also particularly proud to be part of a department and campus so committed to sustainability.  “Nationally we are at the top of our game in terms of concessions food recycling- and that includes pro venues.  Honestly, I don’t know of any other university concessions program doing a food recycling program.  It’s great to be part of a university that can look for new ways to make a difference.  We want to be Spartan Green.”

By the numbers:
  • 22,000 Souvenir mugs sold last year
  • 17,000 Tons of organic waste utilized by MSU’s anaerobic digester last year
  • 15,000 Hot dogs prepared for each Football Saturday
  • 1,000 Prepared and unsold hot dogs donated per Football Saturday.
  • 500 Pounds of food waste sent to the anaerobic digester after each Football game.
  • 400 Events per year where Concessions are sold

Do Green Fences Make Good Neighbors?

You’re a good person. You make an effort to keep MSU as green as possible. You don’t litter. You recycle paper, soda cans and batteries. Heck, you even “recycle” text books from year to year.

So what’s the big deal if you don’t rinse your plastic utensils off before dropping them in the recycling bin? It never mattered before, so why is there a big push now?

The answer to that is called Operation Green Fence, which lies somewhere between your departmental kitchen sink and China. And it’s having an enormous impact on how environmentally friendly we can be at MSU.

The Big Green Fence

greenfenceTo understand what’s happening, you first have to know that for years, one of America’s biggest exports to China has been scrap and waste. Yes, that’s right:
Scrap and waste have been at or near the top of the Chinese export list for many years, even surpassing soybeans and aircraft parts at times. It’s a profitable export for the US — totaling $11.3 billion in 2011 alone. (It’s important to remember that scrap and waste aren’t necessarily garbage; they can be used as the raw material for new products. In essence, China and other countries help process these materials into their next best and highest use.)
There are many other markets and purchasers for scrap and waste—including domestic processors— and Michigan State works very hard to “recycle local” whenever possible. But China is by far the largest destination for a lot of scrap, and when the biggest player on the block makes a dramatic policy shift, the effects ripple through all markets worldwide.Continue reading