Zero Waste Events

It All Started with Razorbash

razorbash waste bins

In August of 2014,  Razorbash became the first event on campus to officially attempt the zero waste initiative. Although it fell slightly short of the 90% diversion of waste required to be a Zero Waste Event, it managed to divert 76% of waste away from a nearby landfill. Since then, we have had 37 registered zero waste events in the last four years.  If an event on the scale of RazorBash, with over 200 vendors and organizations present, can come so close to Zero Waste on the first attempt, the average campus event can rise to meet the challenge.

  • show your department or organization's commitment to sustainability
  • gain a new angle for promoting your event
  • have your event featured on social media by the OFS
  • have your department or organization featured in the Zero Waste Hall of Fame
  • help the University of Arkansas reach its Zero Waste Goal

The University of Arkansas hosts many different events throughout the academic year. Some, like Razorbash, are very large, while others are very small, but they all have one thing in common: they all produce waste. The Office for Sustainability would like to see waste diverted from the landfill whenever possible. The university’s goal is that event attendees will come to expect standardized recycling service at events across campus. Below are some tips to help make your event low- or no-waste.

Before the Event

  • Register your event with the Office for Sustainability.
  • Pick up any recycling containers and measuring equipment you will be checking out from the OFS (see instructions below).
  • Make a waste diversion plan (including locations for waste stations, determining who will coordinate and implement the recycling efforts, how materials will be monitored, sorted, transported, measured, etc...).
  • Limit the number of handouts (flyers, giveaways, free samples).
  • Make sure all items purchased for the event are reusable, recyclable, or even compostable.
  • Reduce food waste before it happens:
    • inform participants that the event is aiming to be zero waste
    • encourage guests to bring their own reusable water-bottles and coffee mugs
    • ask guests to be conscientious of the food they take; they can always come back for seconds
    • offer finger foods to use fewer utensils
    • replace plastic bowls with bread bowls (for soup/chili)
    • use cones for ice cream
    • serve foods that don’t require plates (e.g. hotdogs and sweets)
    • serve drinks that come in a reusable or recyclable container
    • purchase bulk products instead of individually packaged condiments, utensils and drinking straws
    • serve lids, straws, and napkins as “by request” items
    • work with catering company, if necessary, to implement these strategies

During the Event

  • Set up your recycling receptacles (see ClearStream instructions).
  • Make recycling stations highly visible (e.g. signs, balloons, etc...).
  • Use the “salt and pepper” system: recycling and trash receptacles should always be grouped together with clear, large and simply worded signage.
  • Limit the number of trash/recycling bins for easier monitoring.
  • Use clear plastic bags as liners for recycling bins for easy identification and removal of contamination (liquids and food).
  • Place a few empty plastic bottles and cans in recycling containers at the beginning of the event for further visual aid.
  • have volunteers or staff manage recycling/waste stations at all times, if possible, otherwise assign someone to check each station frequently.

After the Event

  • In order to verify your results, make sure you weigh both your trash and recyclables.
  • Report your results to the OFS.
    • Diversion Rate = Amount Recycled ÷ (Amount Recycled + Amount of Trash) x 100
  • Take your recycling to Razorback Recycling on campus (434 Eastern Avenue, 7:30am to 4:00pm, Monday-Friday).
  • Return your checked out equipment to the OFS at the scheduled drop-off time.
  • Consider the following factors:
    • How long will it take you to weigh the materials?
    • Where will you weigh the materials?
    • How will you transport the waste/recyclables to Razorback Recycling?
    • Will you need volunteers, and if so, how many?

Equipment Checkout

clearstream recycling receptacle

The Office for Sustainability can provide you with up to 20 Clearstream recycling receptacles to use at your event. You may also check out weighing and measuring equipment including bins, a tarp, bags, and a scale. Simply indicate the equipment you will need on the registration form as well as the time when you will be picking up the items. All equipment rentals are free of charge and subject to our Equipment Checkout Policy.


Below are a set of signs to easily direct event attendees to dispose of their trash properly. Feel free to print your own from the PDFs below.

cans and bottle sign
mixed paper sign
white paper sign
e-waste sign
compost sign
landfill sign

Please note: If you intend to collect organic materials for composting, you must make your own arrangements with a composting facility. The sign is provided for your convenience in the event that you are making your own composting arrangements.


Take advantage of our Zero Waste Event Banner to clearly communicate your zero waste goal to your attendees. The banner measures 6 feet by 2 feet and has grommets in all four corners for easy hanging.

zero waste event banner available for checkout

Equipment Checkout Policy

  • All equipment must be checked out in-person; be prepared to provide full contact information of the person checking equipment out.
  • The individual must be a member of the University (i.e. have a University ID) to check out equipment.
  • The maximum equipment loan period is 7 days (unless otherwise noted).
  • Equipment must be returned within 48 hours of the event.
  • Equipment is not available for checkout during semester breaks; we use this time to service and inventory all of our equipment.
  • When you check something out, you assume personal, financial liability for the item; do not give it to anyone else.

Equipment Replacement Policy

  • If equipment checked out to you is lost, stolen, or broken, you are responsible for replacing that equipment.