by Hunter R. Slaton | January 01, 2009

illustrationEvery year, Americans dispose of an estimated 31 million tons of food waste. Brittin Witzenburg, the Oregon Convention Center's first sustainability coordinator (, explains how to cut down on that total by composting at events.

Call the hauler.
Contact your venue's waste hauler to see if they can handle compostable materials. If so, clarify what is accepted and how it should be bundled for pickup.

Educate. During the event, provide clearly marked cartons and containers for food waste. Place them adjacent to regular trash receptacles and make announcements about them.

Back of house. Even if you'd rather not involve attendees, you still can compost: Tell the kitchen staff to discard preconsumer waste (i.e., preparation scraps and unused buffet pans of food) into designated compost bins.

Easy does it. "With any waste reduction or recycling efforts," Witzenburg cautions, "keep it simple and start incrementally. This will make the process accessible to a wider audience and result in greater participation."