Zero Waste Event Case Study: National Aquarium

This Zero Waste Event Case Study highlights how Reduction In Motion helped the National Aquarium. With the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conference coming to Baltimore, the National Aquarium wanted to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability while hosting the event’s icebreaker dinner, so they set out to make it a zero waste event by diverting 90% of waste generated by guests from the landfill or incineration. The event welcomed 2,200 industry peers to the National Aquarium for drinks, food, and entertainment on 8/29/22.

The Plan

The National Aquarium formed a team with its Food Services provider, SSA Group, and a local waste and sustainability consultant, Reduction In Motion. Planning began several months prior and included:

  • Identifying potential waste streams
  • Ensuring purchased items were recyclable or compostable
  • Creating a waste separation plan for the event with color coded and labeled bins
  • Recruiting and training ‘zero waste champion’ volunteers
  • Communicating zero waste guidelines to guests prior to and during the event
  • Weighing and analyzing waste generated during the event
  • Reporting results with our community of supporters
Zero Waste Event Containers
Zero Waste Event Volunteer

Zero Waste Event Case Study Results

Zero Waste MetricNumberDefinition
Total Waste Generated5,568 lbsPounds of waste generated during the entire day of the event
Total Waste Diverted4,343 lbsPounds of waste diverted from landfill during the entire day of the event
Guest Waste Diversion Rate95%% of waste separated as composting or recycling by guests, bars, and food stations during the event
Total Waste Diversion Rate78%% of waste disposed as composting, recycling, or donation from the entire day of the event
zero waste event waste guest
Waste Generated by Zero Waste Event Guests
zero waste event waste all
Total Waste Generated During Zero Waste Event

Zero Waste Event Feedback from the National Aquarium

In 2022, the National Aquarium committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. Reducing waste will not only help us meet that goal, but also helps us protect our precious natural resources. By committing to making this signature event zero-waste, we’ve created a template for future events and have made a significant step towards climate-friendly operations. Although we had a general understanding of how a zero waste event would function, we realized quickly we needed support to make the vision a reality. Working with Reduction In Motion was amazing. Their communication, responsiveness and problem-solving skills were crucial to the success. Even after the Event, Reduction In Motion continued their support by presenting a comprehensive report, complete with pictures, and metrics to show where we succeeded and where we have opportunities. We now have a solid foundation to offer this type of event to our guests!

Hire a Zero Waste Consultant

We can help an organization host a single zero waste event or fully transition its event operations to zero waste. Our team will work with event planners and operators to identify an event waste management plan that includes equipment, procedures, communication, purchasing guidelines, and data tracking. Our support can help an organization that is looking to formally achieve zero waste or demonstrate their environmental commitments to their guests.

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