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Office of Sustainability

Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: What materials can be recycled at Southern Miss?

A: Paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum, and tin.  The only items not recyclable at Southern Miss are styrofoam, glass, plastic bags/film, and books.


Q: Can I recycle toner cartridges?  

A: Yes, very easily; please place them beside the large blue can in your building.


Q: Are batteries recyclable?  

A: Regular alkaline batteries can easily be recycled by placing them beside the large blue can in your building.  Batteries that contain heavy metals (i.e. computer batteries) require special processing and should be taken to a retailer that accepts such batteries (Radio Shack, Best Buy, etc.) or returned to the vendor from which they were purchased (Dell, IBM, Apple, etc.).


Q: Who empties my blue can?  How often is it emptied?

A: In support areas the custodial staff should empty materials from the small blue cans and place those items in the large blue can located somewhere on the first floor of the building.  The Office of Sustainability does not dictate when or how that is done.  In residence halls the students are responsible for bringing the materials from their rooms to the big can in the lobby and retrieving a new liner for their small can.


Q: I have a BIG pile of “stuff” that needs to be recycled?  Do I place a work order?

A: No.  When we designed and implemented the new recycling program we did away with the “pile it up and call someone” system – we now have a “trickle-down” system that moves materials from small can to large can on a daily basis.  By doing so there is never a backlog and the process becomes easier for the entire campus community.  Over the last few years we’ve attempted to eliminate all of these backlogs but if you have one that needs to be addressed so that the new system can take care of your needs please email and we will contact you to develop a solution.


Q: Should I rinse out cans or cups before putting into my blue can?

A: Half a swallow of coke or a few drops of coffee are no big deal.  Water in a plastic bottle is never a problem.  Solid food is always a problem.  A half-eaten piece of pizza in a pizza box invalidates the material and a half-eaten burger in a large blue can invalidates the whole can.


Q: What should we do with boxes?

A: Departments that have cardboard boxes to recycle should break them down before placing behind the big blue building can.  If you ask the custodial staff to remove the boxes from your office please break them down first.  Failing to break-down boxes adds tremendous time to the small staff collecting materials from over 300 stops per week.


 Q: Can I bring materials from home to be recycled?

A: Yes!  You may bring the materials, separated, to the drop-off location in the Physical Plant parking lot next to the Ferlise Center on the north side of 4th street.


Q: What is the pick-up schedule?

A: The retrieval schedule can be found here along with other important information about the recycling program.  Please keep the schedule in mind when considering when to place your items in the large blue building cans typically located in the lobby of your building.


Q: Are documents put into the blue cans secured?  Are they destroyed?

A: Everything put into a blue can is destroyed within a few days (once it arrives at the processing plant), but is not completely secured while in transit.  Our suggestion is that departments shred highly sensitive documents (i.e., FERPA, HIPAA, Soc Sec #, etc.).  Typically documents that do not have extremely personal information (an Empl ID is not extremely personal) can be destroyed by putting into a blue can.


Q: How do I have documents shredded?

A: Shredding of documents is the responsibility of departments.  Some departments have their own shredders and shred daily.  If done this way you can easily place the materials into any blue can and we will retrieve them.  Some departments hire a company such as Shred-It to destroy their documents on a periodic basis.  If this method is utilized the hired company will recycle the materials.


Q: How do materials from the top floors of buildings make it into the recycle stream?

A: Any materials deposited into blue cans flow from small can to large can by the custodial staff and are then retrieved from the large can by the recycling operator.


Q: Why are there no “common area cans” (i.e. cans along walkways on campus)?

A: Simply put, to avoid a complete mess.  Research shows that cans without some type of control mechanism are used as regular trash cans by the less environmentally-conscious among us (the culture of our campus has yet to develop an understanding that a blue can is the universal color of single-stream recycling) and once the proverbial half-eaten burger enters the can ALL the materials are invalidated.  Our control mechanism is a type of ownership of the space in which the can is located.  So, while some materials may be missed, we ask that those who have items and are moving from one point of campus to another simply hold on to the materials until they reach their destination.


Q: Where can I recycle glass?

A: Target has a small bin for glass just inside the building.


Q: Why is glass recycling so scarce?

A: Simple economics.  Glass is cheap to make – the raw materials are abundant and the process simple.  The weight of pulverized glass makes transportation expensive and the need to separate by color makes the recycling process labor/equipment intensive.  Those municipalities that have glass recycling as part of their curb-side service are subsidizing the program through the service contract.


 Q: What about recycling electronics?

A: If the item in question is property of the university you must follow the procedures set forth by property accounting and /or iTech.  If you have something at home you want recycled you have two options – some retailers in town (i.e. Best Buy) have programs you can use OR you can wait for the area “amnesty day” and take the items to the Bobby Chain Airport.  Typically this event is in April each year. 


For a Hard Copy of the Frequently Asked Questions click here.


Contact Us

Office of Sustainability
118 College Dr. #5219 Hattiesburg, MS 39406
3403 Morningside Dr.

Hattiesburg Campus

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