Green Graduation Team Achieves Zero-Waste Goal Over Commencement Weekend
Graduation became a little more sustainable this year due to the Green Team’s focus on reducing food waste from commencement events. This May the team set a zero-waste event goal for the two weekend meals —the Friday night lobster bake and Sunday commencement lunch following the graduation ceremony.
A zero-waste event is considered successful when over 90 percent of the waste from the event is diverted from the landfill to be recycled, reused, or composted. After serving 4,900 meals to commencement guests, the Green Team achieved a 93-percent diversion rate, collecting almost 3,500 pounds of food and paper waste for composting and recycling almost 100 pounds of plastics.
The College used a local composting vendor, Maine’s Best Compost, to help with the effort. That firm’s experience with higher education events helped create a flexible collection system that reduced the amount of sorting needed and created a much more efficient system than in year’s past.
Paul Prosser of Maine’s Best Compost wrote afterward, “The composting team organizing these events did an incredible job of separating the compostable waste. This was the best event we have done.” After the event, the team identified a number of ways to improve the composting strategy at next year’s commencement in hopes of increasing the weekend’s diversion rate once again.