Zero waste events


Whether you’re hosting a conference, open house, business meeting or wedding, waste is an issue. It might sound impossible, but with a little planning, you can move toward a Zero Waste Event.

Please check out the Zero Waste Events tools. If you need more help, contact our Zero Waste Program Manager for a complimentary consultation. (

Our Zero Waste Tools folder includes:

  • Twelve quick tips for a zero waste/sustainable event (a good place to get started)

  • Zero Waste Events Planning Guide (guidance and resources for every major aspect of zero waste event planning)

  • Zero Waste Events Calculator (to help you measure and report your waste diversion)

  • Tips for event venues (checklist for managers of conference centers and destinations used for events)

Scroll down for more tips and resources.

Leslie Fox with Jackson Schiefelbein.JPG

Big community event, 2 lbs of trash

Think zero waste is unattainable? Think again. Leslie Fox (left) helped the Yavapai/Apache/Camp Verde Earth Day event radically reduce their waste. In 2018, they had dumpsters full. In 2019, they only generated 2 lbs of waste. Everything else was recycled or composted. And still Leslie isn’t satisfied. “We can do better next year!”

Resources and tips

Guidelines for Recycling

With China closing its doors to the world's recycling, markets for recycling are in flux. You should get in touch with your local recycling service to find out what they can accept.


This blog post may help you navigate the so-called biodegradable containers versus recyclable plastics. When Biodegradable Isn't.

Guidelines for Food Recovery

Food recovery involves taking food that is safe to eat and getting it into other hands. If an event is offering food and the food does not actually get put onto a table where people can get to it then the Yavapai Food Recovery Program can recover it for human consumption.  If there is a buffet line and people are serving themselves any leftovers can’t be used.  However, if there is a buffet and not all food gets put out onto it then that food can be given to others.  Any food that is still in it's original packaging (ie, canned items, unopened bags of salad mix) can be donated as long as it is stored at appropriate temperatures.

Guidelines for Composting

Many services that compost do not take compostable dishes or supposedly biodegradable flatware. Meats and dairy may also need to be separated (another benefit to providing a plant-based menu.) Some may not be able to take paper napkins. Check out the local resources below.

Local Resources

If your event is in the Verde Valley/Flagstaff area, here are local resources to make your event zero waste and be more sustainable in general. If you have resources to add, please email us. See additional resources in the appendixes of the Zero Waste Events Planning Guide, in our Zero Waste Tools folder.

Alternative transportation: 
The Red Rock Magic Trolley can be hired for special events.

Driver Provided has a number of different sized vehicles.

Pink Jeep Tours can also be hired.

If you need to get people up from the Phoenix airport, Silverado Stages has charters out of Phoenix.

Here's a good resource from MIT to show caterers what you expect from them. Sustainable Catering Guidelines.

Yavapai Food Recovery program: Verde Valley: 928-592-3837; Quad Cities: 928-592-7929

Compost Crowd is a local start-up that focused on residential composting but they are able to service events.

Dish/Glassware/Flatware Rental: The Friends of Flagstaff’s Future has reusable dishes they “rent” to the community:

Verde Valley Events and Tents provides a number of services for event hosts, including dishes, flatware, glasses, etc that do not have to be washed before returning.

Food Recovery: 
Contact the Yavapai Food Recovery program.
Verde Valley: 928-592-3837
Quad Cities: 928-592-7929

Sedona Recycles can provide bins and pick-up. Check with them about fees.  (928) 204-1185

If you work with us to reduce waste at your event and commit to reporting your results, you can display this badge on event announcements and at the event.

If you work with us to reduce waste at your event and commit to reporting your results, you can display this badge on event announcements and at the event.