Recycling FAQs


Office Recycling Logo

How is the Recycling program funded?

MSU Office of Sustainability Recycling is funded by a student fee ($3.50 per semester) which was passed by a vote in fall 2008 with additional support from MSU Administration. This funding pays for all costs associated with operation The Office of Sustainability and the recycling program (including equipment and supplies, wages for student workers, and service fees our recycling contractor).

Why doesn't Bozeman/MSU recycle glass?
This is a common question, with a long and complicated answer involving the economics of living in a rural area and decisions made by local government figures. The short answer is that glass is a very heavy material, which makes is more difficult and more costly to move around than other recyclables. Also, because of the high heat required to recycle used glass into new glass, doing so doesn't actually save as much energy as other recyclables. (Aluminum and plastic save 100 times and 25 times more energy, respectively, compared to glass). Glass is also inert - it won't leach nasty things as it breaks down (like plastic does) - so if you have to pick a material to skip recycling, its the lesser of evils. That doesn't mean we should landfill glass as a rule, but in our region we have limited options. One option is to REUSE your glass. Jars can be taken to the Community Food Co-Op where they are sanitized and put out for use by bulk shoppers. Additionally, some private recycling companies in Bozeman will also pick up glass, for a fee.

Why are newspaper and office paper separated? What is the difference?
Newspaper and Office Paper are simply different grades of paper. Office paper is higher quality (copy paper, posters, card stock, etc) and Newspaper lower quality (magazines, phone-books, newsprint). We separate them because we can get different prices for the materials. If you are not sure in which category to recycle something, err on the side of caution and put it in the newspaper recycling bin, rather than risk downgrading the quality of the office paper.

Can I recycle neon/fluorescent paper?
The Office of Sustainability Recycling accepts most colored papers for recycling with the exception of neon/fluorescent orange and goldenrod colored papers. The mill we sell our recycled paper to cannot accept these colors.

Why can't I recycle Styrofoam, even though it has a #6 on it?
The numbers #1 - #7 refer to the type of plastic resin used in a product. Polystyrene, or #6 plastic, can be made into rigid or foam products. Styrofoam is a trade name for polystyrene foam. While the rigid types of polystyrene plastic can be recycled with our #1-2 plastics program, Styrofoam cannot. Please avoid using Styrofoam!

Do you recycle E-Waste/E-scrap?
MSU Safety & Risk Management operates an E-Scrap program for the campus (computer, printers, and other electronics). This program is paid for by a fee charged on all university computer purchases (a percentage of purchase price). For more information about MSU E-Scrap and proper disposal options for electronics, visit or contact Shay Halverson 994-5678.

Can I recycle ink/toner cartridges?
You can take spent ink and toner cartridges to E-Waste for recycling. Contact 994-5678 for more information.

What should I do with burnt-out compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)?
Fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury (which is toxic) and should be recycled to avoid releasing it into the environment. At MSU you may take bulbs to Safety & Risk Management, contact: 994-2711. Many local hardware stores also offer recycling for fluorescent bulbs.

How can I get a Recycling Bin?
Call / E-mail The Office of Sustainability with your request and we can set your office up with recycling.