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Material Recovery Facility

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MSU's Recycling Process: From the Bin to the Bale

Items deposited in recycling bins across the MSU campus (academic, residential, and event spaces) and the public Drop-Off Center are bought to the Surplus Store & Recycling Center's (SSRC) on-site material recovery facility (MRF) for sorting, baling and shipping. Roughly 8 to 9 million pounds of recycling is processed in our MRF each year. All employees who work in the MRF wear personal protective equipment.

In order to transport all of the recycling from campus to our MRF, SSRC partners with MSU's Custodial Services. IPF Custodial Staff condense the material collected in the green recycling bins located inside campus buildings, and bring the material to the building's loading dock. SSRC drivers operate a fleet of trucks to pick-up the recycling from the loading docks and haul it our MRF for processing.

When the recycling reaches our MRF, SSRC employees (mostly student employees) hand-sort materials into bunkers from an elevated platform. Sorting is hard work! Watch how its done. The sorted material is then then fed into a baler that condenses the bulky recycling into large, tightly-packed 1,500-pound bales, which are loaded onto semi-trucks and shipped to the buyer of that material. The bales are sold as commodities to local and regional processing facilities or to a broker for resale. From there, the material you recycled with us can be processed into post-consumer recycled content and used in manufacturing of new goods.

Watch a 1-minute clip showing how recyclables collected by SSRC go from the bin to the bale:

Recycling Right

Preventing contamination in the recycling bins is crucial to the success of our operation. Help us keep a clean stream by following the recycling guidelines (Campus Recycling Guide or the Drop-Off Center Guide) and wiping or rinsing out any food/beverage residue before dropping items into the bin.

Thanks to conscientious recyclers, the MRF maintains a *1% out-throw rate (percentage of contaminants). *Note: In response to COVID, additional measures have been taken to maintain safety, some of which have resulted in changes to our MRF operations and possibly the out-throw rate.

For additional data on the material we collect and process, please view Our Impact

Learn more about contamination:

 Collecting recyclables from campus:

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 Delivering recyclables to the MRF:

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 Sort line and sorted material:

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Baled material:

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Sparty goes green, do you?