Featured Waste

Zero Waste Events: Commencement & Staff Day

The end of the 2016 academic year was marked with celebrations across campus. Two of the most notable celebrations, Commencement and Staff Day, were carefully organized to reflect the values of the university, with sustainability playing a key role in planning and decision-making.


Numerous partners came together to plan and execute the waste diversion effort at Commencement. Waste stations were present at all receptions on Friday, May 20. Waste stations were staffed by enthusiastic volunteers from the WFF corporate office (WFF is the third party custodial contractor employed by the university), staff from Recycling On the Go (a program of St. Louis Earth Day) and staff from the Office of Sustainability. Key sustainability measures included serving water in aluminum cans and making sure disposables used for serving were recyclable or compostable. Signage and volunteers helped ensure attendees could sort waste properly.

The Results

  • 17 waste stations were present at 11 receptions in 9 locations
  • 15 volunteers from WFF staffed waste stations throughout the event (78 hours donated)
  • 1,222 pounds of compost were diverted from area landfills (24 90-gallon totes)
  • Recycling was also collected (unknown quantity)

The Office of Sustainability estimates that approximately 75% of the “front-of-house” waste produced at Commencement receptions were recycled or composted.


Enthusiastic volunteers from WFF ensure that materials are properly sorted.

Staff Day

Staff Day is a special event to recognize and celebrate the contributions of university staff members. Activities include lunch, games, door prizes and Ted Drewes. The event provides a great opportunity to reinforce the recycling culture on campus. Staff Day planners set up a green waste station to collect the bulk of lunch waste. Through the efforts of star volunteers, Donna Bequette, Mary Stull and Tiffany Trautwein, as well as the participation of over 400 event attendees, an estimated 98% of waste was diverted from the landfill!

At this event, all plates, napkins and cutlery were compostable, and aluminum cans and plastic cups were recyclable. The only trash that was produced was the plastic wrap used to cover the food before serving.

Waste Diversion Staff Day 2016

One tiny trash can was all that was destined for the landfill after this successful near-zero waste event!