Event Planning

Guidelines for Minimizing Waste When Hosting Private Event

Draft: V1.0 for review prior to posting

Date: 9/26/23

Prepared by: John Petrie

Notes: Reviewed by Dan Scholten, Christine Lear, John Petrie


Guidelines for Minimizing Waste When Hosting Private Events

Many Carlisle households host private events in their homes or using space in churches or public facilities to celebrate occasions such as birthdays, graduations, or religious festivals or to support community gatherings including neighborhood events, club meetings, and introducing political candidates. In many cases these events generate a significant amount of waste that with planning could be minimized or diverted to recycling or composting (deposited either in a home composter or at the transfer station). These guidelines, which are voluntary except as noted below, provide suggestions to event organizers to minimize solid waste generation and maximize recycling and composting outcomes, consistent with the objectives of the TSAC.

I. Recycling of single-use plastic, glass, or metal containers or tableware.

Event organizers should provide for segregated collection of clean, recyclable plastic, glass, or metal containers, such as beverage containers, and tableware, such as recyclable plastic cups and plates. Provide facilities to rinse any materials, such as plates, that are not clean following use. The transfer station accepts clean plastics labeled with triangular resin identification codes numbered 1 through 6. NOTE: Recycling of plastic glass and metal is not voluntary and is required under the MassDEP waste disposal ban [https://www.mass.gov/guides/massdep-waste-disposal-bans].

II. Maximizing composting.

Effective use of composting can significantly reduce solid waste generation from events. Home composting is generally restricted to materials such as fruit and vegetable scraps and eggshells. Event organizers with home compost resources should provide a collection bin for collection and instruct guests on what materials are suitable for composting.

If using transfer station services for collection of compostable materials, a much wider range of items can be composted, including materials such as napkins, meet scraps and bones, and cooking oil and grease [https://www.carlislema.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4413/Carlisle_Recycling_Guide_Flyer-6-13-23?bidId=]. In addition, use of transfer station services makes it possible to compost single-use compostable tableware, including plates, bowls, cups, and flatware. Note that not all materials sold as “compostable”, “plant-based”, or “biodegradable” are acceptable to Black Earth, the composter servicing the transfer station. If considering including tableware in compostables deposited at the transfer station, please ensure that you are using materials with the BPI, CMA, TUV or OK Compost certification labels on the packaging or in the product description or use materials recommended by Black Earth, which also provides ordering links organized by kitchen supplies, small gatherings, and gatherings for 100+ guests [https://blackearthcompost.com/compostables].

Many residents find heavy-duty five-gallon utility buckets commonly available at hardware and home improvement stores to be useful for transporting large volumes of compostables to the transfer station. These buckets are typically sold with tight-fitting lids which help eliminate odors and prevent pest infestation if compostables can’t be immediately deposited.

III. Minimizing/Eliminating single-use packaging and tableware.

Event organizers should make every effort to eliminate single use materials, even if recyclable or compostable. Some suggested strategies include:

1) serving freshly prepared beverages such as tea and lemonade using household tap water as an alternative to serving pre-packaged beverages.

2) maintaining an inventory of “second-life” tableware that can accommodate larger gatherings. For example, one Carlisle resident has established a collection of second-life plastic tableware that has been purchased inexpensively from second-hand stores or collected from the transfer station swap shop to use when hosting large gatherings and also shares this tableware with neighbors for their occasional use.

3) encouraging guests to bring their own refillable water bottles and reusable tableware which they can take home after the event

The extra effort you make when preparing for an event to minimize generation of solid waste not only impacts your event but is a reminder to all of your guests about the steps they can take to ensure optimal outcomes for recycling, composting, and minimizing the use of single-use packaging and tableware.

If you have other ideas to share about approaches you have used to minimize waste at an event you have hosted, please let us know your stories by emailing the TSAC at recycling@carlislema.gov.