MSU Diverts 9,320 Lbs. of Recylables for Zero-Waste Event

MSU Diverts 9,320 Lbs. of Recylables for Zero-Waste Event

By FOX 47 News. CREATED Sep 13, 2012 - UPDATED: Sep 13, 2012

EAST LANSING, MICH. – Staff from MSU’s Division of Residential and Hospitality Services, the MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center achieved an unprecedented zero-waste event for the 2012 Spartan Spectacular cookout and welcome at Munn Field with 9,320 lbs. of recyclables diverted.


Spartan Spectacular was held on August 28 with record attendance from more than 11,400 students who came for the Fall Welcome Cookout, a University Activities Board-sponsored concert, nearly 600 student organizations promoting campus engagement and a fireworks show. Staff from MSU’s Division of Residential and Hospitality Services, along with MSU’s Recycling Center and MSU’s Landscape Services set up, greeted students, served food, staffed recycle containers and cleaned up.

“In the past, waste diversion at the event has been between 35 and 40 percent, but thanks to the help of more than 100 volunteers, we brought it to an impressive 96 percent waste diversion rate this year,” said Diane Barker, RHS sustainability officer.

Achieving zero-waste is an unprecedented event for Michigan State University. At a 96 percent diversion rate, the event meets the Zero Waste International Alliance standards for zero waste which includes waste diversion 90 percent or higher.

All recycling stations were intentionally staffed to educate Spartan students and prevent recycling contamination caused by different materials getting mixed in the same container. Each station was staffed with containers for comingled paper and plastic, food waste and landfill materials. MSU Culinary Services kept sustainability at top of mind when selecting the menu and server ware for the event.

“It wasn’t only about serving out students great food, it was about being Spartan green,” said Guy Procopio, director for MSU Culinary Services. “For example, the condiment selection for this year’s Fall Welcome Cookout portion of the event was done in bulk to avoid individual foil packs and lessen the chance of recycling contamination.”

Nearly 3,500 lbs. of food waste collected at the event was taken to MSU’s Anaerobic Digester, located at the MSU Dairy Barn.

“Event planning started in June and it took a lot of coordination and commitment from staff university-wide to help us achieve our goal to really change behavior on the field,” said Carla Iansiti, Culinary Services sustainability officer.

The Residential and Hospitality Services Sustainability Office was formed in 2009 with a mission to align and help achieve the university’s sustainability goals in the categories of energy; water; food waste; procurement; research, education and marketing; material diversion; and social responsibility. It is a unit of the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services at Michigan State University.