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How to Have a Zero Waste Event in San Jose, CA

Angel Joana Hall



Did you know that one of the aims of San José’s Green Vision plan is to reach zero waste by 2022? Talk about a goal! In 2012, Americans collectively produced about 251 million tons of trash. From that gigantic amount, only 34.5% was recycled. San José is one of the many cities actively working to increase that percentage and one of the ways it is achieving this is through the Zero Waste Event program.

What is a Zero Waste Event?

Once an event meets all qualifications, the city of San José provides (free) resources such as dumpsters, Eco-stations, recycling equipment and services and even funds for the event. This ensures that the event is eco-friendly and doesn’t increase the load on the city’s landfills.

How does an event qualify?

Say you’re part of planning an event for a charity, awareness building, a children’s parade or perhaps even a wedding.

  • If this event is to take place in an outdoor area open to the public (a park, street or plaza) and

  • There are bound to be more than 500 people attending it,

Then congratulations! The event can be a Zero Waste Event and the city will even help you out for free.

What other conditions need to be met to have a Zero Waste Event?

The event or event organizer will also have to:

  • Send in an application for a Zero Waste Event at least 45 days in advanc

  • Make sure food and drinks that are served comply to the packaging standards mentioned here

  • Ensure that an approved dumpster service is hired/being provided by the city

  • Use the city’s Eco-stations for recycling, composting and trash collecting purposes

    • If the event does not meet basic qualifications, San José’s Zero Waste Event program may still assist if the event plans to recycle and compost their trash, food and scrap metal

    • Creating an arrangement with a paper or scrap metal recycling facility such as SIMS Metal Management or Piranha Plastics for your event is advisable


    Make three announcements regarding environmentally friendly habits provided by the city during the event. The exact announcements are specified here

The announcements include:

  • A caution against flushing medicine down the toilet and dropping them off at a take back site

  • Where to properly dispose of garage items like motor oil and batteries

  • Ways to keep the city and neighborhoods of San José litter free

The Zero Waste Event program is a great step towards making the bustling and beautiful city of San José an environmentally friendly and clean one. So next time you’re part of a workshop or fair, consider applying to the program make it the cleanest, most waste free event of the year!

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