Cincinnati Zoo diverts 99% of Zoo La La waste from landfill

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden set a goal to recycle or repurpose 100% of any material used during its recent Zoo-La-La fundraising event, and achieved 99% of that goal.

“We consider this a huge success,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s manager of park services Ben Liles.  “Everything that was handed out to guests was either 100% recyclable or compostable. Because of this, we diverted 3,585 pounds of waste away from landfills and of that rescued 1000 pounds of edible food for the community.”

It was a massive undertaking that couldn’t have been acomplished without help from the Zoo’s food and retail partner, The SSA Group. SSA provided bins for food leftovers and compostable serviceware that wasused by the 47 vendors at the event and facilitated the donation of food to Last Mile Food Rescue.

Attendees at a previous Zoo-La-La

Zoo staff collected all event trash in compostable bags and filled a 20-yard dumpster that was taken to an Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC)-run sorting facility.

“The Zoo paid for ODRC, which has an impressive composting operation, to sort the event waste and provide us with a breakdown report,” said Liles.  “After sorting, only 35 pounds of the 2600 that was sent to the facility went to a landfill,” said Liles.  “That’s incredible! If we can do this with Zoo La La, we can do it with any event.”

The team is planning to do just that with its upcoming Wild About Wine and Zoofari events. Efforts like this will help Cincinnati Zoo, recognized as the Greenest Zoo in America, to achieve its goal to be Net Zero by 2025.


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