Community School of Medicine Waste

Employee Picnic Strives for Zero Waste

On September 30th, the Office of Sustainability and the Operations and Facilities Management Departments will team up with the Employee Picnic Planning Committee to pursue zero waste at the Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) Employee Picnic.

Betsy Snyder, Chair of the Employee Picnic Planning Committee, worked with vendors, including caterer Kendrick’s and frozen custard provider Ted Drewes to ensure that all of the disposable serviceware provided for serving food and beverages at the picnic will be either compostable or recyclable. Other committee members, including Steve Smith and Paul Williams, are working to ensure that volunteers are lined up to oversee the three waste stations that will help attendees sort their waste. Volunteer slots are still open – please consider signing up for a shift to help us achieve zero waste (currently four 1.5 hour shifts remain).


Washington University welcomes new students and their families with twist on a St. Louis tradition. Compostable cups hold the familiar local favorite: Ted Drewes frozen custard. Expect to see similar cups at other zero waste WashU events, including one of the biggest events – the WUSM Employee Picnic!

Why are Zero Waste Events Important?

Providing recycling collection at events is important. Typically about 30% of waste can be diverted when recycling containers are present. However, if vendors only bring recyclable or compostable serviceware and compost collection is also available, 95% of waste can easily be diverted. To be successful, the effort depends on vendors abiding by the material specifications and attendees sorting their waste at the waste stations to avoid cross contamination.

For an event like the Employee Picnic where over 12,000 attendees are expected to come for lunch, we anticipate a significant impact. Stay tuned for a report on how many pounds of waste were diverted!