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Zero Waste Events

For an event to be considered zero waste at least ninety percent of all materials generated at the event must be diverted from the landfill. Below you will find a selection of events hosted at the College that have reached that goal along with information on how to plan your own events so that they too can be zero waste.


Planning Your Event | Before the Event | During the Event | After the Event


Check out our "Hosting a More Sustainable Event" guide for information not only on waste diversion but also food and beverage choices, marketing, and transportation at your event. You'll also find all the necessary contact information to get plenty of assistance from planning to execution and clean-up.


Check out Charleston County's Special Events Recycling Program. This program offers convenient options for recycling and composting, and the website walks you through everything you need to know. You can also contact Keep Charleston Beautiful about their Lend-a-Bin program. Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have!

Planning the Event

*Requests for Zero Waste Events must be submitted at least one month prior to the event itself

Step 1: Fill out Zero Waste Event Info Sheet

  1. Located at

  2. ZW Event Coordinator will contact you when the form is submitted

Step 2: Work with ZW Event Coordinator

  1. Go over proposed catering order together to ensure that single use items are not included

  2. Assess volunteer needs for ZW portion of event

    1. ZW Event Coordinator can assess availability of Zero Waste Corps volunteers

    2. It is strongly encouraged that the event planner work to find volunteers from the host office/department to help with the ZW efforts

  3. Walkthrough location together and establish a plan for bin locations

Step 3: Place Orders

  1. Place catering order, be sure to specify that this is going to be a Zero Waste Event

    1. Confirm that Catering will provide bags

    2. Request materials pick up from Catering at end of event

  2. Place order for bins through Physical Plant (this is done at the same time as requests for tables and chairs)

    1. If the event is outdoors, specify that you would like Clearstream  “X-Frame” bins

    2. If the event is indoors, normal bins usually work fine

  3. Arrange pickup of recycling and trash items through Physical Plant

  4. Physical Plant order form can be found here:

  5. Call Physical Plant the day before the event to confirm services

Before the Event

Step 1: Setup Bins

  1. Setup bins in locations established in planning phase and put bags in the appropriate bins

    1. Place bins near areas of heavy traffic (near food tables, exits, etc.)

  2. Ensure that bins that are not associated with the event (standalone trash cans) are moved out of sight or covered to prevent use (trash bags work well) with signage

  3. Attach proper signage to bins for Recycling and Composting

    1. Signs and extra bags are located in Event Kit

Step 2: Advertisement

    1. Place tabletop advertisements (located in Event Kit) on guest tables and food tables

    2. When guests have arrived, make the following announcement to inform them that they are attending a Zero Waste Event (Zero Waste Corps volunteers are welcome to make the announcement if available)

      1. Hi, my name is (your name). To help the College reach our Zero Waste by 2025 goal, today’s event is a Zero Waste Event… this means that 90% of materials used today are diverted from landfill through recycling & composting. All cups, plates, utensils, and food scraps are compostable. Any other items that you brought into the event (like a plastic water bottle) can be recycled. When you are ready to dispose of these items, bring them to (point to waste stations), and our volunteers will help you out! If you have any questions, we’d be happy to answer them.Thanks for coming and enjoy.

During the Event

Volunteers that you provide or members of the Zero Waste Corps should stand by all of the stations

    1. Make sure to have someone check on them to provide breaks for longer events and check for contamination in the bins (i.e. items going into the wrong bins)

    2. If you find contamination, try to identify the source and make adjustments to correct issues.

After the Event

  1. Pick up missed items from tables and around venue and put them in their appropriate bins

  2. Ensure that bags are properly sorted and free from contamination

  3. Zero Waste Corps will record totals of materials generated by the event (Measurement instructions at the end of this guide)

  4. If Catering is picking up remaining food, place full compost bags near the food table and they will take them with them

  5. If Catering is not picking up remaining food, ensure that the full green compost bags are returned to the Catering garage

    1. The garage is located across from CVS on the corner of George St. and St. Philip St.

  6. Leave full recycling bags in an obvious location so they can be picked up (this needs to be scheduled)

A Charleston Affair


A Charleston Affair is the largest zero waste event held annually at the College of Charleston. The event spans two days and is seperated to allow alumni of the College to gather together for one evening and for newly graduating seniors to gather together for the other. During the festivities, volunteers organized by the Office of Sustainability help to divert thousands of pounds of compost and recycling from the landfill. The industry standard for zero waste requires that over 90% of total waste generated by the event be diverted from the landfill, and thanks to the help of our many volunteers, the College of Charleston has managed to achieve this goal for the past two years. More information about creating a Zero Waste Event can be found, here

Waste Audits


The College of Charleston has hosted several waste audits. The largest of these is the annual Alliance for Planet Earth waste audit in Cougar Mall. At waste audits, student volunteers go through about ¾ of a day's worth of campus trash, separating it into piles: recyclable, compostable and landfill. The data gathered from these audits is used to refine the school's waste disposal systems and to give insight to our progress of achieving zero waste by 2025. In addition to data collected about the composition of our school's trash, the College of Charleston community gains valuable perspective on the sheer amount of waste generated by the school, and what we are sending to the landfill.

Office of Sustainability Greenbag Lunch Series

The Greenbag Lunch Series presents an opportunity to bring together local and regional leaders who are actively involved in sustainable initiatives to discuss issues pertinent to the College and the Charleston community in general. Students who attend these events are able to meet with people who are leaders in their field and learn about the issues they will be presented with throughout their future careers. Since its inception, the Greenbag Lunch Series has provided a forum to discuss topics ranging from Positive Psychology to Redifining American Urbanism.