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From the Vault: SSRC Leaders Talk Candidly in Interviews

From the Vault: SSRC Leaders Talk Candidly in Interviews

Posted by Katie Deska on Mar 3rd 2021

To understand more about why and how we do what we do, check out the following two podcast interviews with leaders from SSRC. The Recycler Secrets interview with manager Kris Jolley was recorded in Nov. 2018, pre-pandemic, so the conversation touches on a few things that changed. We've temporarily suspended in-person shopping, hands-on education, and polystyrene collection, though we've also launched the vermicompost operation in the on-site hoop house, a project that was in the works for a few years. Despite the changes, much as remained the same, including our mission to manage waste as a resource.

"We really focus on the highest and best use model of disposition and we start with reuse," Kris said. "We don't have a lot of say in source reduction on campus -- we don't buy the stuff, we just get it. So, we really focus on that reuse component and that's where the value is. We try to promote reuse on campus as much as possible and try to get departments on campus to repurpose things. We sell everything you can imagine. I think in 20 years of doing that piece of the business, the only thing we haven't sold is maybe an airplane and a helicopter... When we really started investing in our Surplus Store back in 1998, it was a $300,000 business. It is now a $3.5 million a year business, and that was so successful that's its one of the reasons why this facility got built. They decided 'If you can sell bricks from a construction project for $70 a piece, can you also generate revenue from recycling to help make this business work for us?' And here we are today, and it's working really well for us."

Kris Jolley, SSRC Manager, on Recycler Secrets (November 2018)

SSRC's manager, Kris Jolley, was the first student hired by the recycling program back in 1990. In this podcast with Jonathon Matthews, Kris talks about the wide variety of material and goods SSRC handles, how we manage e-waste and data security, what makes our Drop-Off Center unique, why we run our own fleet of trucks, the MSU Shadows program and more. He delves into what keeps him up at night and shares some hard lessons learned after decades with the department. 

About Recycler Secrets: "Recycler Secrets is an audio podcast hosted by Jonathon Matthews that co-hosts with the best and brightest professionals from all side of the materials management industry, including: recycling processing centers, municipalities, waste to energy facilities, compost operations, landfills, transfer stations, non-profits, consultants, manufacturing, retail and any other place you find folks making a difference through diversion."

Dave Smith, Recycling Coordinator, on SustainabiliME (August 2020)

Spartan Kelly McElroy, class of 2011, speaks with Dave Smith about the recycling process, trends he's noticed, and how the Surplus Store extends the life of products. 

"I toured the MSU recycling center back when I was an undergrad student at MSU in 2007-2011 and found your facility to be very impressive," said McElroy. "My goal is to continue spreading positivity and to inspire people to better the environment even during times like this."

About SustainabiliME: Hi, I'm Kelly McElroy and I love learning about everything related to sustainability and the environment. In this podcast we will do just that. We will showcase a cool story, project, idea, etc. related to sustainability and the environment as well as discuss at least one thing the average person could consider implementing in their own life related to sustainability.

The MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center is responsible for collecting over 30 million pounds of surplus goods, recycling, organic waste, building waste and bulk waste (events, construction and demolition) annually from campus buildings and MSU offices across the state. The Surplus Store sells over $3 million dollars of usable materials back to campus and the world, while returning over half of its revenue to university departments. The on-site materials recovery facility sorts and markets over 9 million pounds of recyclable materials annually.

Since its opening in 2009, SSRC has reduced the amount of MSU’s general building waste sent to landfills over 50% by volume. This is due to a comprehensive approach to waste management that focuses on efficient collections and the highest and best use of resources.