General Topics
Goal of Zero Waste Nearly Achieved

Ninety-Seven Percent of Waste Recycled at Yale Event

In an on-going effort to make its fall picnic as green as possible, the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies brought two vital aspects to its planning this year. They sought the expertise of the chefs and staff from Yale's own Sustainable Food Project to ensure that the food was produced in an environmentally-preferable manner --food and beverages came from local producers or from those who use organic or other sustainable methods. They also pursued a goal of zero waste to minimize the environmental effects at the close of the event. Diners ate off of biodegradable plates using biodegradable knives, forks and spoons. Beverages were served in biodegradable cups. Stations were set up to collect the recyclable bottles and cans, aluminum food service foils, as well as the food waste and biodegradable plates etc.

When all was said and done, an event that fed 200-300 persons produced only 10 pounds of trash. These non-recyclable and non-compostable items were waxed papers, food-soiled plastic wrap, rubber gloves and other single use food service packaging. They formed only 3 percent of the entire material left following the event. In contrast, the recyclables weighed in at 203 lbs, the compostables at 74 lbs and the still edible but unused foods at 38 lbs. The recyclables and compostables were sent to the appropriate facilities. The still edible foods were given to staff for their own use.

"We came wonderfully close to achieving the Holy Grail of waste management," commented C.J. May, Yale's recycling coordinator. "Recycling 97% of our waste from an event this size is a great achievement, one that we want to institutionalize throughout the campus."

For more information on the event, please e-mail Information on related programs is available at the following websites:

Yale Recycling
Yale Sustainable Food Project
Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Zero Waste Events / Grass Roots Recycling Network