2011's Second Zero Waste Lunch Event

June 22, 2011

zero waste station
Zero Waste Station

In collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories’ New Mexico catering crew from Sodexo and composting vendor Soilutions, Pollution Prevention (P2) led a successful “Zero Waste” Lunch Event at Hardin Field during the Student Internship Program’s summer welcome event.

Replacing the forest of trash cans that usually appear at picnic events, three stations were strategically arranged to divert as much waste from the food portion of the event as possible.  P2 personnel were positioned at the collection bin stations to educate and assist participants with the important, but much more involved disposal process.

Beyond basic recycling of aluminum cans and plastic bottles, P2 worked with Sodexo to make sure products sold were conducive to being diverted from the trash.  Paper plates made from recycled materials were provided instead of foam, and the cutlery provided was made from plant-based plastic and certified to biodegrade at a composting facility. All food waste, paper such as plates and napkins, and cutlery were diverted into large green compost containers through Sandia’s food composting contract with Soilutions.  The chips sold by Sodexo are all Frito Lay branded flavors, and the wrappers are recyclable through TerraCycle.

As learned from the first Zero Waste Lunch Event in April at “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day”, foam cups brought by participants from outside the park were diverted for recycle.  The only consistent waste now remaining are condiment portion packs of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and relish.  To solve this, Sodexo is procuring bulk condiment dispensers to replace the single-serve plastic containers.

Even though they are significantly different, the Zero Waste Lunch Events have been very well received by those attending the events, and everyone is learning that most waste can be avoided by simply planning ahead.