Zero-waste events-Environment at CMU - Carnegie Mellon University

Zero Waste Events

*A zero waste event means that 100% of the waste can be composted or recycled at the end of the event.

What to order from catering for a 'near' zero waste lunch event.

A zero waste style buffet lunch for a larger group, ordered through our campus caterer, CulinArt, can be bowls of fruit or pasta salad, sandwiches & cookies on platters.  The price is comparable to the cost of a box lunch.  Request Chinet paper plates, compostable utensils, #7 compostable cups and drinks provided in bulk dispensers.  Work with catering to get creative with the food options.

A couple of tricks to making a box lunch ‘near’ zero waste.

-Ask for the ‘eat well’ option which will provide guests with carrots and whole fruit in lieu of chips (the little bags the carrot sticks come in are compostable!), as well as a wrap or sandwich with no plastic wrapper. 

-You can ask for the drinks by the gallon, in pitchers or dispensers which will do away with water bottles & soda cans, they can do juices, ice tea, lemonade, water, etc. in this fashion.

-You can ask for the cookies to be provided on a platter if you want them to have something sweet post meal or if you want salty snacks, they can provide you with bowls of chips and pretzels for a pretty minimal add on cost.

-Finally, make sure they use PAPER boxes which can be recycled, INSTEAD of the plastic clamshells.

How does the compost get picked up from my event and composted? 

It depends on where the event is taking place on campus, in the University Center, you would include in your set-up instructions that it is a zero waste event and needs to be set up for food composting.  In your department, you will need to set up the event yourself, and generate a work order through FMS Fix it for the cleaners to pick it up after the event is over.

For more information on how you can plan a near Zero Waste event; contact Barb Kviz; or call 412-268-7858.

orientation zero waste

Several near Zero Waste meetings & special events have been held on campus; listed below are some of the larger events.


Schatz Dining Room - every morning breakfast

Almost Midnight Breakfast Fall (900)

Freshman Orientation Dinner (1600)

Staff Picnic (2500)

Almost Midnight Breakfast Spring (900)


Schatz Dining Room - every morning breakfast

Almost Midnight Breakfast Fall (900)

Freshman Orientation Dinner (1600)

Staff Picnic (2500)


Facilities Management Services (75 people)

CEE Holiday Party (150 people) (EPP/CEE Green Teams)

Finance Picnic (UTDC Green Team)

Freshman Orientation Dinner (1600 people)

Eco-Fabulous Cook-out (150 people)


Tepper Net Impact Special Event (400 people) and Sustainable Earth Cook-Out (200 people)


College & University Recycling Council NRC Workshop (85 people)