On Campus

Jan 25, 2012 7:16 PM by Christina Lysacek

New study finds MSU trash contains 30% recyclable items

A new study finds 30% of garbage in trash cans on Montana State University's campus could have been recycled, which is equivalent to 1.2 million pounds of trash a year. Some MSU Students got their hands dirty Wednesday to gather data of their own.

"I feel like the MSU community could do a better job of recycling on campus," said Austin Weber, one of the students who spent his afternoon sorting through piles of trash.

Two piles of trash gathered from three campus buildings in just 24 hours took up a large portion of the warehouse floor where four students sat and rummaged through trash to find recyclable items.

"That's a lot of garbage, a lot of waste every year that could be going to recycling, and recycling is not only good for the environment, but recycling saves MSU money," said Weber.

"Sixteen thousand dollars direct savings and $60,000 of income which can be used to support the program to be exact," said E.J. Hook, MSU's Environmental Services Manager.

Information from the study was gathered by doing a waste audit, similar to what the students worked on Wednesday.

In an effort to change this, a collaboration of MSU organizations and students has set goals for themselves that they hope to achieve by 2020.

"We'd like to reduce our current waste landfill contributions by 25% by 2020, and about 15 years later we'd like to be at 50% diversion from the landfill," said Hook.

But Hook says everyone on campus needs to get on board to reduce putting recycled materials in the trash and by purchasing only items in recyclable containers.

If everyone on campus recycled just a few more things each day, MSU would meet its goal.

"Half of a can, one plastic bottle, and seven sheets of paper, we would be recycling the equivalent of what's currently in our waste stream," said Gretchen Hooker, the ASMSU Sustainability Center Director.

Currently only about 9% of the campus's waste is recycled.


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