California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Food Scraps Management

Stadiums and Special Events

Collecting food scraps for compost at stadiums, fairs, festivals, and catered events creates unique challenges. Coordination between event staff, food preparation staff, consumers, waste haulers, and composters is important to successful food scrap collection and composting efforts.

Model Programs

  • City of San Diego's Petco Park concession stands and restaurants implemented a food diversion project. At the conclusion of any game or major event, food waste is placed into a compactor. The food waste is then taken to Miramar Greenery where it's turned into compost. Petco Park also donates edible food to the San Diego Rescue Mission. In 2011, Petco Park donated 6,740 pounds of food to the mission. The park has received three WRAP awards.
  • The City of Indian Wells, in coordination with the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens and EcoNomics, Inc., piloted a food scrap diversion program (PDF, 100 KB) in 2001. Food scraps were collected for off-site composting, and the finished compost was used at the Tennis Gardens. In addition to the Tennis Masters Series, the project diverted more than 8 tons of food scraps from two additional events. Food scrap diversion proved to be both feasible and economically viable. Food Scrap Recycling at Large Public Venues Video (Windows Media, 102 Kbps, 6 minutes) (2011)


Other Resources

Helpful Guidelines

  • Dedicate staff to oversee the food scrap diversion project
    Staff should place, monitor, empty, and clean scrap collection bins throughout the stadium or event. Provide educational signs for patrons, and teach vendors how to separate food scraps, (for example, food scraps from plastics and glass), deal with overflow problems, and relocate bins when necessary.
  • Food donations
    If vendors have leftover food that is still edible, contact a local food bank or food recovery (also known as rescue) organization ahead of time to arrange for delivery.
  • What type of food scraps and collection bags will a compost facility accept?
    Check with the compost facility to determine if certain scraps generated at your event are acceptable, such as cheeses, sauces, meat scraps, waxed cardboard, or paper products. Collection bin liners improve bin cleanliness and reduce odors. If bin liners are made of compostable plastic, ask the compost operator if they will accept these materials. If compostable liners are not available, ask if the composter will sort the material for you.
  • Collecting food scraps from vendors
    Inform food vendors about plans to collect food scraps. Consider contractual language requiring their cooperation separating food scraps for food recovery and/or composting. A rendering company may be able to provide drums and collection service to vendors that produce meat scraps and grease.
  • Separating recyclables
    Effective separation of recyclable glass, plastic, cans, food, and paper products requires clear signs near the collection bins. Always provide a garbage bin adjacent to every food scrap and recycle bin.
  • Postconsumer food scraps
    Collecting postconsumer food scraps means increased potential for mixing food with contaminants, as well as with other materials that limit composters willing to accept these scraps. Currently, all food waste can only be taken to a compost facility with a full permit.
  • Meat, fats, oils and grease should be rendered
    If you have significant amounts of meat, bone, fats, grease, and oils, arrange for their collection by a renderer, who will turn these products into soaps, cosmetics, animal feed, and other valuable products. Coordinate with a local or regional renderer to provide drums and collection service for these materials from your event.
  • Transporting food scraps and edible food
    Unless you are composting on-site, you will need a professional/licensed hauler. The end processor, whether it is a food bank or composter, may provide or arrange this service. Contact your Local Enforcement Agency for information on facilities that are authorized to accept and transport food scraps.
  • Reusable flatware and utensils
    Using washable kitchenware may reduce the volume of food scraps. If the event is catered, ask the caterer to provide reusable dishware and utensils. If reusable items cannot be obtained, use compostable utensils and plates. Although this will increase the volume, it will reduce potential problems of plastic contamination during source separation. If the collected food scraps are a small quantity and are free from plastic contamination and meats, you will likely have more options in finding a composter.
  • Choosing a caterer
    Catered events offer an opportunity to control the flow of food scraps since only one food service provider is involved. Your choice of caterer is important to the success of your food scrap diversion efforts. Ask potential caterers if they can provide reusable dishware or biodegradable products, and inquire about their willingness to separate pre- and post-consumer food scraps. If there is perishable--but edible--food leftover, consider taking this food to a food recovery organization.

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