Use All-Compostable Service Ware

To minimize landfill waste at your event, use all compostable cups, plates, and utensils. Bon Appetit will provide compostable serviceware for catered events if requested upon ordering. If working with another catering company, make sure to request compostable serviceware. Here are some Tips For Talking To Your Caterer (PDF)

If you are providing your own serviceware for the event, compostable (NOT biodegradable) service ware can be ordered online through WashU Marketplace (search eco-products or eco-forward), or at Eco Products online. Napkins and paper towels can be assumed compostable regardless of their labeling.

Before purchasing your own service ware, please ensure the brands you’ve selected are on the list of certified products accepted by our local composting partner, St. Louis Composting. Products must meet ASTM 6400 OR ASTM 6868 standards. View this guide on Compostable Serviceware (PDF) before purchasing or send it to your caterer.


Student groups may be eligible to receive compostable serviceware and/or compost service for free or at a reduced rate through an appeal to the Student Sustainability Board. Allow at least 3 weeks for events with over 400 people and at least 1 week for events with fewer than 400 people. Please check out the Student Sustainability Board website for more information.

Recruit Volunteers

Unless you hire a trained porter to manage the Green Waste Station, you are responsible for recruiting and managing volunteers for your event. We suggest 2-3 volunteers for each waste station. If the event is longer than 3 hours, consider organizing 2 or more shifts for volunteers.  Build in some overlap between shifts when scheduling so that volunteers can pass off training and so that your waste stations are never empty.

The Office of Sustainability will provide a brief training session for volunteers prior to the event, as well as instructional materials for properly running a waste station. Email at least one week in advance of the event to schedule a training session.

Place Signage

To communicate your waste message to event-goers, place signage around the event. Print the resources below to help communicate the message at the event.

Print and Post Signage

Select from a wide variety of designs and formats to communicate what goes where at your event. We can adapt the designs to fit your particular needs.

Bin Closure Sign

Place copies on non-removable bins in the area to direct people to use the Green Waste Station. Laminated signs are also available by contacting the Office of Sustainability.

Market and Communicate Your Effort

Make sure you take the proper steps to communicate to your event-goers and the community that you have taken strides to reduce your environmental impact. Feel free to use the following suggestions in crafting your message:

  • For every pound of food waste composted, the equivalent of 0.54 pounds of CO2 is kept out of the atmosphere due to reduced landfill methane emissions.
  • Composting is less energy-intensive than recycling, as microorganisms do the work of breaking down matter into its constituent parts, rather than a machine- or human-driven chemical process.
  • Composting creates zero toxic chemical byproducts, unlike landfilling or recycling, in which substances like bleach are used.
  • By composting or recycling, landfill space is saved and fewer landfills must be built in the long run.
  • Recycling creates more jobs than landfilling. The EPA has found that recycling employs more than one million people who are paid almost $37 billion annually.
  • The compost we collect on campus is handled by St. Louis Composting, which brings the material to its facility in Belleville. The finished compost is sold to local landscaping companies for use as a soil additive and fertilizer, which we purchase and return to campus for landscaping.

Note: The term “zero-waste” or “zero landfill” is used to describe events that divert the majority (90 percent or more) of their waste from the landfill into recycling or compost streams.