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Surplus & Recycling Town Halls

Upcoming Town Halls

None scheduled currently. 

About SSRC Town Halls

Surplus Store & Recycling Center (SSRC) Town Halls focus on topics related to managing waste as a resource. The format gives attendees an opportunity to hear from industry experts and SSRC staff, ask questions, pick up waste reduction tips, and learn more about the complexities of sustainable materials management. 

SSRC Town Halls are hosted on Zoom and are open to the public.

Typically, a guest speaker from the industry or a member of the SSRC staff will present on a relevant topic for about 15 or 20 minutes. The talk is followed by live dialogue between the speaker and the host, which shifts into open Q&A with the audience. Attendees are encouraged to participate in discussion questions via the chat and/or verbally, depending on the circumstances. Links to learn more are shared in the chat. A coupon for the Surplus Store is provided at the end of each Town Hall as a gesture of our appreciation for your engagement.

Town Hall topics and speaker suggestions are welcome! Please contact the Education Coordinator at to make a suggestion for a future topic or to provide general feedback.


Past Town Halls

Discovering the Discarded: A Conversation with Upcycling Artist Meg Heeres (Nov. 18, 2021)

This talk is led by Megan Heeres, the sustainability-centered artist participating in the inaugural Spartan Upcycle x Art Lab Residency.

Heeres has created a exhibition made of materials sourced mostly through Spartan Upcycle, the creative reuse retail and education program of the MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center. For eight weeks, she reworked and reimaged the materials within the studio space at Broad Art Lab. Her resulting exhibition, titled Never Not Nature, is open to view now through Jan. 23 at the Broad Art Lab.

Heeres work intends to challenge conventional thinking around the value of discarded items, and supports SSRC's mission to manage MSU's waste as a resource through an integrated system of reuse, recycling, collaboration and education.

Data Security and Responsible E-Waste Recycling (Nov. 4, 2021)

SSRC's IT Administrator, Tim Heckaman, led this engaging talk and answered audience questions about how SSRC keeps MSU's data safe, how we prioritize waste reduction and reuse, and how we work with certified recyclers to responsibly recycle MSU's e-waste. We also cover tips for reducing electronic waste and provide additional resources to learn more.

The MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center is responsible for the collection and redeployment of all information technology for campus and extensions, as well as ensuring all data is appropriately removed from every electronic device. All IT equipment is either refurbished for sale or recycled in an environmentally-friendly way. You'll find how the staff of SSRC's IT department work with campus electronics and IT equipment, including data destruction and electronics reuse and recycling. 

Sept. 2021: MSU Campus Recycling 101

We covered the basics of how to recycle on campus, discussed the recent change to plastics recycling, answered questions, and discussed other waste diversion opportunities through the SSRC.

Perfect for students, faculty, staff and campus visitors who want to recycle more, improve their habits, or get acquainted with how we manage MSU's waste as a resource. Hope to see you there!

Aug. 2021: Spartan Upcycle x Art Lab Collab.

MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center and the MSU Broad Art Lab discuss upcycling, art, and shifting our perspective to treat waste as a resource. Staff with SSRC's creative reuse branch, Spartan Upcycle, talk with Britta Urness, Studio Educator at the Art Lab, and curator of the upcoming exhibition featuring Meegan Heeres, the inaugural artist participating in the Spartan Upcycle x Art Lab Residency. We also announce Spartan Upcycle Fridays, an exciting new opportunity for the community to make upcycled art with the Art Lab and Spartan Upcycle.

July 2021: SSRC Updates - Surplus Store, recycling, and worm composting updates

Updates related to the Surplus Store, recycling on campus and at the Drop-Off Center, and our vermicompost operation (a.k.a. worm composting). SSRC staff members talk about what's new and what's to come, and attendees ask questions. The information presented is relevant to MSU students, faculty, staff, and community members who recycle with us and/or shop at the MSU Surplus Store. With the new academic year around the bend, we want to help you make informed choices that have a positive impact on the planet and your pocketbook. 

June 2021: Why Michigan's Solid Waste Policy Matters, with industry expert, Kerrin O'Brien, executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition

Industry expert Kerrin O'Brien, executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition, discusses key pieces of Michigan's Solid Waste Law. She highlights how a package of bills, currently being considered by the Regulatory Reform Committee of the Michigan Senate, would update the state’s waste management framework, moving us beyond the landfill-centric approach, toward a sustainable materials management approach. SSRC's manager, Kris Jolley, facilitates further conversation with Kerrin about how these changes could impact everyday access to recycling, compost and reuse options for Michiganders. 

The Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC) is a Lansing-based coalition that represents recycling and composting interests statewide. The Coalition, of which MSU SSRC is a member, was started almost 40 years ago by a group of passionate individuals who shared a vision to advance resource conservation issues. Learn about MRC's current advocacy work around Michigan's Solid Waste Law (Part 115 of Michigan's Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act).

May 2021: Producer Responsibility - What's their part?

When it comes to recycling and reducing waste, we often hear consumers being told to "do your part," which then begs the question, what is the 'part' of the producer? What responsibility do producers or manufacturers have to the products and packaging they create and sell? To answer this question, we look toward the concept of product stewardship and a key policy tool – extended producer responsibility (EPR). EPR holds producers responsible for what they bring to market and incentivizes them to design out waste. Guest speaker, Lea Dyga, Spartan class of '21 and former SSRC staff member, explains what EPR is, how it is used to incentivize producers to consider the end-of-life of their products and packaging before sending an item to production, and how we can use EPR to shift the physical and/or economic burden of disposal off of consumers. Real world examples are referenced to illustrate the viability and benefits of EPR policies. For more, check out Lea's research on circular economic practices in the Great Lakes region.

April 2021: Waste Not! Learn How to Conduct a Home Waste Audit

Want to cut back on your waste and track your success? You can! Join MSU Surplus Store & Recycling and the Office of Sustainability for a demonstration and explanation of how to conduct a household waste audit. We'll show you how to get a baseline measurement of your waste, challenge yourself to improve your zero waste habits, and then re-evaluate your waste footprint.

March 2021: State of Recycling, with EGLE

Tune in for a conversation with Matt Flechter, recycling market development specialist with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). In a casual live interview, SSRC's manager, Kris Jolley, will talk with Matt about the state of recycling in Michigan. Topics will include EGLE’s goal to triple the recycling rate and the economic impact that would have on the state. An open Q & A session will follow. Stay 'til the end for a special treat from SSRC. 

February 2021: Recycling MSU's Paper, with WestRock

Join us for a conversation on the ins and outs of paper recycling and manufacturing. We will be joined by Jeff Weaver from WestRock, the Michigan company that processes MSU's paper and fiber materials. Jeff will walk us through the recycling process from start to finish, including how the paper is collected, prepared into post-consumer stock, marketed, and used in new product manufacturing. 

January 2021: Zero Waste Habits

For most of us, adopting a zero-waste lifestyle is a journey of small changes. Let’s talk about habits that help us walk the walk! You will hear from SSRC staff on what we like to do and you will be invited to share what works for you. This event will be hosted as a Zoom meeting, so during the conversation portion you will have the option to speak and/or turn on your camera.

December 2020: Upcycled Holiday Cheer!

Upcycled Holiday Cheer, featuring DIY demos by MSU Broad Art Lab Studio Educator, Britta Urness. Find out how you can incorporate upcycling to make your zero waste holiday dreams come true! We'll also share about the Spartan Upcycle Store -- how it came to be and where we see it going.

November 2020: Closing the Food Cycle Loop with Spartan Worms!

MSU's Worm Whisperer, Worm Wizard, and Worm Warrior discuss SSRC's new vermicompost operation, which turns campus kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich compost (sold in the Surplus Store) through the amazing digestive power of worms! Campus worm composting started a decade ago under Dr. John Biernbaum, of the Horticulture Dept., and SSRC is thrilled to carry on this critical waste diversion strategy.

October 2020: Brokering our Commodities with Special Guest, Jill Brown of Metro Recycling

In this special Town Hall, guest Jill Brown, of Metro Recycling, joins us to discuss brokering our commodities and the impacts  of international regulations and COVID-19 on the recycling industry

September 2020: Surplus Store Update

This reuse-oriented Town Hall focuses on the history of the MSU Surplus Store & current operations, including an overview of online listings, curbside pickup, vehicle sales, auctions and more.

August 2020: Recycling Beverage Containers

A talk on the ins and outs of recycling your beverage containers -- plastic and glass bottles, metal cans, and cartons. Where do they go? What happens during processing? What do they become? Plus, you'll find out how we keep it local.

July 2020: Preventing Contamination

In this conversation with MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center staff, you'll learn what contamination is, why it's bad for recycling streams, and how to recycle right.

June 2020: Drop-Off Center Updates

With the Drop-Off Center reopening around the corner, we'll talk with you about what safety precautions we're taking and highlight a couple important changes to what items we will be accepting.