Striving for Zero Waste

What is a Zero Waste Event?

A Zero Waste Event is one that has the goal of reducing the amount of waste produced at the event. An event can create a massive amount of waste, whether it is from food scraps and leftovers, handouts (agendas, speaker presentations, giveaways, etc.) or food and drink containers. Industry standards for a Zero Waste Event is 90% diversion from landfill, so Sonoco FRESH is striving to reduce as much waste as possible at the FRESH Food, Packaging & Sustainability Summit.

Key Components of Zero Waste*

  1. Source reduction: Eliminate waste at its source. This includes choosing products that come with little or no packaging and eliminating unnecessary items. Product stewardship is an important part of source reduction and emphasizes selecting materials with their best end use in mind.
  2. Recycling: Processes used materials for use in new products to divert waste from landfill. Recycling helps to conserve natural resources, reduce air and water pollution, generate less solid waste and reduce the year-to-year costs of extracting and manufacturing new products.
  3. Composting: Turns organics such as food scraps, yard waste, and paper back into soil that can be used to grow new plants and crops. Organics account for a significant component of solid waste.

Planning the FRESH Summit

During the 2021-2022 academic year, Sonoco FRESH sponsored a Creative Inquiry (CI) course on Zero Waste Events, with a second-semester focus specifically on the FRESH Summit. The CI students were instrumental in creating many of the processes and procedures that will be implemented during the Summit to make it a Zero Waste event. Click here to read more about the Creative Inquiry.

FRESH has recruited student volunteers to serve as eco-reps during the Summit, among other responsibilities. You’ll see these volunteers wearing bright green shirts and they’ll be assisting Summit attendees in determining how to dispose of their waste. They will also be sorting and weighing waste from attendees as well as from back-of-house operations.

What Can YOU Do?

  • Don’t bring any outside food or beverage to the Summit (such as single use water bottles).
  • Only take what you will eat/drink.
  • At the end of each meal, leave your food scraps on your plate so that the kitchen staff can properly dispose of them for composting.
  • Acquaint yourself with the waste streams of the Summit Eco-Station so that you’ll be prepared to dispose of your waste correctly at the Summit.
FRESH Summit Eco-Station

Questions? Send an email to SonocoFRESH@clemson.edu ahead of the event, or look for the student volunteers in the bright green shirts at the Summit.

*Source: Zero Waste Event Planning Guide produced by Seven Generations Ahead