Have you ever thrown a party for more than 1,000 people but didn’t put any trash cans out? We did!
As you hopefully knew, the UNMC BBQ was held last month. It was a beautiful day, with hundreds of people showing up to play games, eat good (free!) food, and get information on campus opportunities.
Last year it was the campus’s first Zero Waste Event and we repeated this year.
A Zero Waste event means that at least 90% of all the waste generated in preparation for/at the event will be diverted from the landfill and incineration—by recycling and composting. The 10% allows for contamination or things that are unavoidable—this is often plastic wrap that protects unprepared food (uncooked meat), etc. that planners cannot control. We can control the types of food served and can work to keep that waste to a minimum. We can also control the items given to the end user to make sure they can be composted or recycled.
Sodexo/Catering found more compostable items for serving which made it easier for attendees to sort and there was nothing there that needed to go into a trash can—so we didn’t have any!
A special thanks to the volunteers who stood at the waste stations and made sure attendees got the right items in the right place. If you see Andrew Faltin, Cassandra Hays, Ana Lara-Ramirez, Chrystal Nathan, Tricia Saxton, Michael Skocz, Bobbi Shook, Susan Siebler, Victoria Smith, Julie Sommer, Hannah Stanzel, or Sami Vasistha, please thank them for helping people sort at the bins! Thanks to Tina Spencer and Kimberly Norman for helping clean up and weigh waste. Finally, don’t forget to thank the planning committee and Sodexo, as they were integral in setting this up.
So how did we do?
Mixed plastics & metal recycling=114lbs
Energy Bag/soft plastics=17.5lbs
Net Zero Waste Standard (soft plastics not recycled or composted): 91% diversion
Impressive! More than 1,000 meals and only 17lbs of trash! That comes out to 0.017lbs per person and has us easily diverting the 90% required. It’s also important to note that we served more meals and had the same amount of landfill (contaminated items from a not-well marked bin) but less overall waste, which is the correct thing to strive for.
Great Job!! Can you throw your own Zero Waste Event? Use our toolkit to help.