Carnegie Mellon University

Hosting a Zero Waste* Event

*Zero waste is defined as 90% of event waste is composted or recycled.

Work with campus catering.

The campus caterer, Chartwells, is currently striving to make all campus events zero waste. This includes using reusable options, when possible, and compostable disposable items. Sometimes menu choices help reduce waste. Work with catering to get creative with the food menu options and ask for their advice. 

Chartwells offers compostable serviceware for no added cost and when available, will provide condiments in bulk dispensers. 

To avoid food waste, order to-go compostable containers for your event, so leftovers can be taken by attendees.

A couple of tricks to making an event zero waste:

  • Ask for options that don't require packaging, such as whole fruit in lieu of chips, as well as a wrap or sandwich with no plastic packaging. 
  • Ask for the drinks by the gallon, in pitchers or dispensers, instead of single-serve disposable bottles and cans. They offer juices, ice tea, lemonade, water, etc. in this option.
  • Ask for 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 minimal cost.

Don't forget to have your food and disposables collected for compost! 

All that work that goes into choosing the correct plates, cups, and silverware, doesn't matter if the waste is sent ot the landfill!

If your event is being held in the University Center or Simmons Auditorium in the Tepper Quad, include in your set-up instructions that you want compost bins included.

If your event is held elsewhere, you will need to request compost set up the event yourself. Call  or email the service response center (412-268-2910 -- to request compost bins and for Custodial Services to pick up the compost bags after the event is over.

For more information and ideas on hosting a zero waste event, contact or call 412-268-7858.