Projects - Recycling/Waste

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In an effort to bring its values into practice, Macalester College has adopted a goal of Zero Waste by 2020.

What is Zero Waste and how does Macalester College define it?

The ideal Zero Waste community

  1. sends nothing to landfills and incinerators and
  2. continually strives to reduce the volume of recyclables, compostables, and toxic/hazardous materials.

This ambitious goal acts as a mental framework for guiding the Macalester College’s choices. The college will continue to reform its infrastructure and behavior in order to reach this goal.

In practice, Macalester, like all institutions, does not have full control over all of the waste generated on campus; some waste will be generated inevitably. Thus, Macalester adheres to the widely accepted Zero Waste International Alliance standard, which states that Zero Waste Institutions divert 90 percent of waste from landfills and incinerators.

A Zero Waste Committee oversees the implementation of this policy. Please contact Karen Porras () or Suzanne Savanick Hansen () for more information.

Composting:

Composting started on campus January 1, 2013.
composting details

Recycling

In late 2005 and early 2006, the Facilities Management department, with a grant from the State of Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, evaluated its trash and recycling efforts and contracts. It was determined the college had opportunities for increasing recycling and reducing trash by considering a “resource management” program in which both the trash and recycling activities would be “re-bid” to local vendors. A baseline waste audit in found that waste generated on campus is 37 percent recyclable, 36 percent compostable, 19 percent trash, and 8 percent reusable. In an effort to better handle this waste, Facilities Management retooled the recycling and waste infrastructure on campus to better facilitate proper collection and sorting.  New waste and recycling bins with colored tops were installed in every campus building. New recycling bins are currently in process for the offices and dormitories.

Students in the 2010 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar in conjuction with Minnesota Waste Wise conducted a new waste sort and worked on zero waste projects. Please see Sustainability Data page for recycling and waste data.

Mac Free Swap:  Mac Free Swap is an online trading program launched in 2009 that allows Macalester community members to post an unwanted item or to respond to another’s post in order to obtain an item. Mac Free Swap can be accessed through a link on the college’s community network, 1600 Grand, under the “Campus Resources” tab. A drop off site is also available for small items in the Sustainability Office in Kagin Commons.

EcoClamshell Take Out Containers:  Eco Clamshells are available at the Grille. For free, students and faculty can check out the containers when they order a menu item from The Grille.

Reuseable Dishes:  Bon Appétit offers regular dishes for if people are staying to eat at the Grill. In addition they offer a discount on coffee for people who bring their own Bon Appétit mug to the Grill.

Move Out Waste:  In response to the traditionally overwhelming amount of waste generated when students move out the dormitories, a new collaborative program was set up by the Zero Waste Committee to capture useable material for a fall garage sale, offer electronics waste recycling, and promote recycling. The recycling rate jumped from 17 percent in 2008 to an impressive 46 percent in 2009 (including e-waste). Two rooms of material were stored on campus for resale at the fall Habitat for Humanity garage sale.

Food Waste as Pig Feed:  As of February 9, 2009, food waste from Café Mac is picked up by Barthold Farms, cooked in a special truck, and transformed into feed for free range pigs. Students Natalie Locke and Abe Levine, as part of their sustainability student worker project this in the fall of 2008 researched food waste recycling options for Macalester in collaboration with the Zero Waste Committee. Making pig food out of Café Mac food waste, reduced waste hauling fees and keeps organic waste out of a landfill or incinerator. The program is expected to save money though reducing waste hauling fees. So far, the program has cut trash by 50 percent.

The Zero Waste Committee sponsors a variety of sustainable programs in collaboration with departments across campus.

Mac Free Swap - Mac Free Swap is an online trading program launched in 2009 that allows Macalester community members to post an unwanted item or to respond to another’s post in order to obtain an item. Mac Free Swap can be accessed through a link on the college’s community network, 1600 Grand, under the “Campus Resources” tab. A drop off site is also available for small items in the Sustainability Office in Kagin Commons.

EcoClamshell Take Out Containers - Eco Clamshells are available at the Grille. For free, students and faculty can check out the containers when they order a menu item from The Grille.

Reuseable Dishes - Bon Appétit offers regular dishes on request for if people are staying to eat at the Grill.  In addition they offer a discount on coffee for people who bring their own Bon Appétit mug to the Grill.

Move Out Waste - In response to the traditionally overwhelming amount of waste generated when students move out the dormitories, a new collaborative program was set up by the Zero Waste Committee to capture useable material for a fall garage sale, offer electronics waste recycling, and promote recycling. The recycling rate jumped from 17 percent in 2008 to an impressive 46 percent in 2009 (including e-waste). In 2011, the college partnered with the Network for Better Futures to sort material, reuse and recycle student discards.

Move Out

Move out is an important time for waste reduction, as this is when a large amount of items are disposed of. In the final weeks of the school year there are many unique opportunities to reduce waste, as well as some changes to standard waste collection. 

  • Habitat for Humanity Donations - During spring move out Habitat for Humanity and Alternative Spring Break will be collecting donations. These items will be sold at the Fall Garage Sale, and proceeds will be used to fund these important causes. Collections boxes will be located in the front lobbies or main lounges of dorms from May 5th to May 15.
  • Cafe Mac Amnesty Boxes - Have you borrowed any items (utensils, dishes, etc.) from Cafe Mac this year? Rather that destroying the evidence, you can drop these items off in one of the Amnesty Boxes, located in the front lobbies or main lounges of dorm buildings.  These will be available from May 5 to May 15. 
  • Free Boxes for Reuse - Boxes will be available for reuse during move out. These boxes can be found in the basement of the campus center before move out.
  • E-Waste Pickup - We encourage you to donate any working electronics to the Habitat for Humanity drive. Non-working electronics that you need to dispose of can be brought to the E-Waste pickup.
  • Bin Removal/Recycling and Trash Dumpsters Available - Bins are removed from the dorms around move out time. You are expected to bring your recycling and trash to the dumpsters on Macalester Street (west of Wallace/30Mac/Bigelow). Dumpsters will be designated for paper, bottles and cans, or trash and will follow the same recycling rules as bin recycling.

Recycling Information

Recycling - Macalester's official recycling program was started on Earth Day 1970 by a group of students. Since that time, our program has evolved to accommodate the changing needs of the Macalester Community. Macalester is committed to waste reduction and diversion as part of a broader commitment to the environment and the global community. We currently have a goal of zero waste by 2020. This recycling guide provides information about our primary recycling program as well as other recycling and waste reduction opportunities on and around campus. If you have any questions, please contact our recycling coordinator, Karen Porras at kporras@macalester.edu.

Bin Recycling on Campus - Macalester Waste collection currently utilizes a mixed recycling program. The following items are all acceptable for the mixed recycling bin:

  • Paper and cardboard
  • Cans - aluminum and tin
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Plastic-#1-7 (Look for these numbers on the bottom of plastic items)

All other items are considered waste. These include but are not limited to:

  • Styrofoam
  • Ceramics
  • Window and mirror glass
  • Paper with food or grease on it (this can be composted once composting starts however)

Recycling Oddities - There are a variety of non-reusable items that cannot be placed in the Macalester Recycling bins, but which can be responsibly recycled at various locations on and around campus.

Small and Medium Electronicsused on campus, such as radios and computer components, can be brought to the E-Waste Recycling bin located in the Sustainability Office, on the first floor of Kagin Commons

PDAs and Cell Phones can be brought to the bin located in front of the Highlander Store, in the lower level of the campus center

Inkjet Printer Cartridges and Overhead Transparencies are collected by Ann Esson in the Environmental Studies Department Office, Olin-Rice 249.

Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) are a difficult item to dispose of properly. However, due to the  chemicals they contain, it is important to make sure your used up bulbs are taken care of safely. A drop box for CFLS is located in the Sustainability Office. If a CFL breaks on campus, please contacts Facilities Services asap.

Got Something Else?

If you are looking to recycle, reuse, or properly dispose of an item and can't find a way to do it on this page, try Eureka's A-Z Recycling and Safe Disposal Guide or the Ramsey County A-Z Disposal