New recycling effort could minimize waste at Breslin

Before a victor is determined at Breslin Center, and the trash bins are overstuffed on game nights, two new recycling efforts already are working to minimize waste otherwise bound for a landfill.

Student volunteers now handle the trash and recycling receptacles at each entrance into the bowl, Student Recycling Coordinator Emily Wilson said. The volunteers belong to the Be Spartan Green Team, and they aim to inform patrons on what can and can’t be recycled.

“The volunteer is a knowledgeable source saying, ‘That actually is recyclable, and it can go here,’” Wilson said. “We’re hoping this will help the amount of landfill waste that is produced at sporting events.”

Although almost all concessions items are recyclable, the food waste contaminates other recyclables, MSU Surplus and Recycling Waste Reduction Coordinator Dave Smith said.

For the second waste-diverting effort, leftover food from concessions is transported to the anaerobic digester, where it is processed into methane gas and repurposed for energy uses, Smith said.

When the digester was created, biosystems and agricultural engineering professor Dana Kirk and his team identified all sources of organic waste on campus and how best to harvest them, he said. Originally, this meant liquid and solid waste from the dairy farms and cafeterias, but this came to include concession’s waste from sporting events when representatives from MSU Waste Reduction approached Kirk about using the digester.

“The more material we can take out of the landfills and wastewater and use it in the digester is good,” Kirk said.

The efforts began last fall at Spartan Stadium, after officials seized the opportunity to divert more waste from the landfill during sporting events, Smith said.

After seeing the results, the recycling programs carried into the current basketball season.

Wilson said the Be Spartan Green Team is working on recruiting more students to volunteer at the games.

“It’s gaining more momentum,” she said. “We’re partnering with the (Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement) to have it be sponsored.”

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