The Indianapolis Zoo recently welcomed the 2017 Association of Zoos & Aquariums annual convention to Indy and hosted attendees at a fun-filled Zoo Day event. Zoo Day guests enjoyed the zoo’s new Bicentennial Pavilion event space, beautiful White River Gardens, and behind-the-scenes tours of the zoo’s animal exhibits, with attendance of over 1,700.
Zoo professionals are naturally an environmentally-conscious audience, and the zoo placed a high priority on sustainability for the event. I provided the zoo with a sustainability plan and headed up the event’s zero waste program in order to divert as much waste as possible from the landfill.
Zero waste stations were placed throughout the event spaces, each with a recycling bin, compost bin and trash bin. The stations were staffed with volunteers from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to help guests sort their waste correctly. The KIB volunteers were rockstars and a major factor in the success of the program.
This was the zoo’s first attempt at waste diversion at this scale of event. The zoo’s event planning, operations and guest services staff, along with the catering team from Centerplate, all demonstrated great commitment to the event’s sustainability goals. Despite the threat of rain causing some last-minute adjustments to the plan, everyone worked together to pull it off.
Of the waste collected and measured from the Zoo Day event spaces, the zoo successfully achieved a 73.5% waste diversion rate. This means that 73.5% of the event’s solid waste was disposed of as recycling or compost, with the remaining 26.5% being disposed of as trash. Nearly 1,000 pounds of compostable and recyclable materials were diverted from the landfill.
Lots of contributors were needed to make this program a success. Thank you to Ray’s Trash for providing waste hauling services, Greencycle for providing composting services, and the Indiana Recycling Coalition for providing bins and bags through its Lend-a-Bin program. Big thanks to Keep Indianapolis Beautiful for providing an awesome team of volunteers, to Centerplate for choosing sustainable plates and food packaging, and of course to the Indianapolis Zoo for your commitment to reducing waste! Congratulations on a successful event!