Zero Waste Events
What is a Zero Waste Event?
The Zero Waste Events intern team provides free personalized event consultation services to help faculty and staff event planners successfully reduce event waste, including composting. We provide guidance on:
- Working with vendors and purchasing event materials
- Setting up waste disposal locations
- Structuring events to make the disposal process run smoothly for attendees
- Tracking the impact of the event
Requesting a Consultation
To schedule a consultation or ask any questions you may have about hosting a zero waste event, reach out to RecoveryInterns@austin.utexas.edu at least two weeks in advance of your event.
Staff and faculty event planners who would like to compost at their event are required to attend a training beforehand. Trainings are held approximately once a month during the fall and spring terms, and twice during the summer term.
The Spring 2023 training dates are as follows; please register for each training by clicking on the link:
- Monday, January 30 from 4-5 pm
- Monday, February 27 from 4-5 pm
- Tuesday, March 21 from 2-3 pm
- Tuesday, April 11 from 2-3 pm
The Campus Environmental Center's Green Events team provides similar free event consultation services for student organizations. Visit Green Events for more information.
Benefits of Zero Waste Events
Observation of campus events reveals opportunities for major and smaller events to be held under zero waste practices. Events are a great way to create lasting "Guest Impressions" when attendees interact with zero waste on campus and deepen their understanding of proper waste disposal as well as contribute to UT's zero waste goal.
- Zero Waste Event Services flyer
- Event Checklist Digital Version (PDF) and Print Version (PDF)
- Zero Waste Event Food Vendor Conversation Guide
- Customizable Waste Bin Signage
- 11 x 17 Templates (pptx) Recommended
- 8.5 x 11 Templates (pptx)
- Bin Monitor Training Resources (Box Folder)
- Promote Your Zero Waste Event (PDF)
- Diversion Rate Calculator (xlsx)
- Event Giveaways Hierarchy "SWAG"
ZWEco Supply Store
Resource Recovery’s student intern-supported ZWEco Supply Store offers a one-stop shop for staff and faculty event planners to purchase certified compostable serviceware and request compost bins or zero waste staffing for on-campus events.
- Download a list of current items.
- Orders can be made through the online Event Planning Request Form two or more weeks in advance of your event. If you are looking to order compostable serviceware in quantities of 500 or more, please email our team directly.
- We encourage you to schedule a consultation if you have any questions or concerns about utilizing these materials!
UT Catering and Food Vendor Sustainability Database
The UT Catering and Food Vendor Sustainability Database provides UT-Austin meeting and event planners with information on the sustainability attributes of local food vendors. All information in the database was self-reported by the food vendors, and information will be updated annually. If you are a local food vendor and would like to be included in this database or if your business's information needs to be updated, please contact email@example.com. This resource was developed through the collaborative effort of the Office of Sustainability, the Staff Council Sustainability Committee, and Resource Recovery.
Zero Waste Event Case Studies
Large Student Event Case Study: Gone to Engineering (2019)
Guests: School of Engineering students
Number of Guest Impressions: 1,700
Meal: BBQ sandwiches, fruit, chips, water
Logistics of Note:
- Event Planner (EP) consults with Resource Recovery to verify event elements.
- EP coordinates with caterer to streamline meal materials to compostable.
- EP provides bulk water refill stations.
- Only compost collection provided in dining area. Extra bins (recycle, landfill trash) are blocked off to reduce confusion. Bin monitors from student organizations are essential to provide guidance to guests.
- Landfill trash and recycling provided for catering disposal.
- Advance coordination with the caterer for the department to keep any food that wasn't put out for service.
Large Staff Event Case Study: Planning, Energy, and Facilities Services BBQ (2019)
Guests: Planning, Energy, and Facilities Services employees
Number of Guest Impressions: 900
Meal: BBQ buffet, vegetarian options
Logistics of Note:
- EP consults with Resource Recovery to verify event elements.
- EP coordinates with caterer to streamline meal materials to compostable, including individually-wrapped brownies.
- EP purchases compostable place settings.
- Only compost collection provided in dining area but bins are monitored by student interns for soda cans and other items guests carry in.
- Landfill Trash collection provided for caterer for disposal of food service packaging.
On-going Event Case Study: Orientation Lunch Diversion
Guests: Incoming UT Freshman
Number of Guest Impressions: 7,000
Meal: pre-ordered box lunch, special dietary options
Logistics of Note:
- This is a special project of Resource Recovery to introduce incoming freshman to zero waste, conducted each week of Freshman Orientation.
- EP includes Resource Recovery during meal planning to streamline box contents to diversion.
- Resource Recovery provides resources to each school or college to facilitate diversion during lunch disposal.
- Academic staff are essential to facilitating the rapid disposal process and collect clean streams.
- Resource Recovery services each school or college, redistributing unopened food and picking up compost.