Zero Waste Events Certification

Showcase your organization’s achievements in event waste diversion with SCS’ Zero Waste Events Certification

What is Zero Waste Events Certification?

Recognize your company’s event management efforts to divert waste with SCS’ Zero Waste Events Certification. The Zero Waste Events Certification provides a basis for certifying municipal solid waste volumes diverted from landfills for events such as concerts, fairs, festivals over a specific time period. Achieving Zero Waste Events Certification provides third-party assurance that your event’s waste elements are successfully diverted through reuse, reclamation, recycling, composting, sale or donation, and waste-to-energy.

Why Choose SCS?

SCS Zero Waste Events Certification is both business practical and environmentally rigorous. It benefits your business by delivering a cost-effective, respected, and well supported third-party certification. SCS certifies your event’s waste diversion achievements starting at 75%. In addition, any progress your event has made in its waste diversion can be expressed as points on your certificate. For example, if your event initially achieved a 75% diversion, and an 80% diversion in the next audited year, the certificate would show ‘+5’. Furthermore, SCS provides you with a dedicated and experienced inhouse certification team available to answer your questions and provide customized guidance during each step of the verification process.

  • Overview/Details
  • Process

The SCS Zero Waste Events Certification provides a basis for the certification of municipal solid waste volumes diverted from landfills at singular events. Certification provides third-party assurance that waste elements are diverted from landfills using any of the following methods: reuse, reclamation, recycling, composting, sale/donation, and waste-to-energy.

This standard seeks to recognize Event Management’s efforts to divert waste generated at an event, such as a concert, fair, festival, over a specific time period. It also seeks to encourage visibility into downstream flow of waste leaving an Event. Event Mangers that can identify where the material flows, can potentially claim higher diversion rates.

Events demonstrating at least 75% waste diversion can be recognized through certification under this standard. Events achieving 99% waste diversion can make a ‘Zero Waste Event’ certified claim. Events achieving below 99% will have their exact diversion stated on the certificate. For example, “Event Achieved 85% Waste Diversion from Landfill”.

A certificate will showcase the Operator’s achievements in waste diversion. The certificate shall include a transparent overview of the achievements, including the following required information: 

  • The percent of waste diversion the Event has achieved. Percentage is calculated by (diverted waste - residuals) / (total waste)
  • Each method of diversion used (e.g., recycling, composting, waste-to-energy) as well as the percentage diverted using each method
  • The progress the Event has made in waste diversion expressed as points; for example, if an event achieved 75% diversion last year and 80% diversion in the audited year; the certificate would show ‘+5’
  • The name of the Event
  • The timeframe in which the Event took place
  • The locations included in the scope of certification, as well as those that are excluded. For example, a trade show hall is included, but host hotels are excluded.

The certificate will be publicly available on the SCS website.


Operator must demonstrate that they meet all local, state, and national laws regarding waste management including licenses, and evidence of proper disposal of all wastes. Affidavits, from external diverting facilities, must include:

  1. Addresses and names of Facility and entity writing affidavit, respectively
  2. Volume or weight of material received
  3. Time boundary, for example: “For the waste received in the year 2021…” Must include the time period that is being certified
  4. Information regarding residuals from received waste. There are options:
    1. the exact percentage of residuals in the waste sent by Operator OR
    2. the percentage of waste emitted by the receiving entity as a whole (rate should be no older than five years old)
  5. Whether residuals from their own process has been landfilled, send for further processing, or used for waste-to-energy.
  6. Affirmative statement indicating that all information provided is accurate and free of errors
  7. Name and signature of person with authority and knowledge of information provided

Desk Assessment:

The following documents and activities are necessary to meet requirements of the standard and shall be reviewed:

Review of Zero Waste Event Plan

  1. Defines the time and location boundaries of the Event
  2. Lists all applicable waste regulations and a summary of how the Event complies with applicable regulations
  3. Lists all expected wastes generated during the Event and the plan for their diversion
  4. Lists staff responsible for ensuring diversion at the Event
  5. Definition of critical control points and responsibilities of workers at these points to assure diversion

Waste Diversion Calculator

The Waste Diversion Calculator is a tool that shall be used to calculate the Event’s diversion. Each line represents a waste material. Calculations are based on the following inputs:

  • Material Name
  • Waste Category
  • Amount of material and date it was diverted
  • Method of primary diversion or disposal & receiving facility information
  • Residual rates of receiving facilities
  • Total weight or volume diverted or landfilled; include conversion factors if using volume of material disposed
  • Corresponding identifier for disposal: Date of disposal; Corresponding bill of lading number/ invoices number

Traceability Documents/ Records

  • All contracts, invoices, bills of lading, and any other document which track the movement of waste materials are kept on file and shall be made available to the auditor
  • Records of training regarding handling of wastes
  • Affidavits from entities receiving and diverting waste

Training Documents

  • Control point specific training for staff or contractors key in ensuring success of the program
  • Training for contractors involved in ensuring waste diversion at critical control points

On-Site Audit of Infrastructure and Activities:

An on-site audit shall be done at every event to verify diversion activities.

  1. Auditors will review of activities at critical control points and conduct interviews with staff (to assure training)
  2. Auditors will assess suitability of on-site infrastructure that supports diversion activities (e.g., receptacles)
  3. Review of signage at the Event to confirm the correct communication for disposal of waste materials
  4. Review of any documents Operator would prefer to show in person, rather than sending on-line, (e.g., invoices, contracts).

Post-Audit Activities:

Event management shall have the opportunity to address any non-conformities found during the audit.

  • Major Non-compliances are a fundamental failure to meet a requirement. These non-compliances must be resolved or closed out before a certificate can be awarded.  The Operator has three months from the closing meeting to close the Major non-conformity
  • Minor Non-compliances are characterized as an unusual lapse in the system and do not pose a threat to overall compliance with the standard. 
  • Opportunity for Improvement is an observation made about an occurrence which does not impact compliance but could potentially affect the Event’s compliance in the future.
  • Auditor has two weeks to prepare report, which is then sent to SCS for technical review.
  • SCS finalizes report and sends to Operator for review, along with request for non-conformity closure and/or action plan, if applicable.
  • Once evidence and action plan are submitted, and payment is received in full, SCS will publish the Zero Waste certificate and send final certificate and report to Event Management.

Certification and Re-Assessment:

Upon completion of a successful audit, SCS will issue a checklist and certificate indicating:

  • The percent of waste diversion the company has achieved for the Event. Percentage is calculated as:
  • (diverted waste - residuals) / (total waste)
  • Each method of diversion used (e.g., recycling, composting, waste-to-energy) as well as the percentage diverted using each method
  • Percent of waste sent to landfill
  • If applicable, the progress the Event has made in waste diversion (expressed as percent change over last year’s diversion rate).
  • The name, location, and time period of the Event.

For continued certification, a re-assessment shall occur on a yearly basis or whenever the Event repeats. SCS can also provide client marketing support.

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Eddie Gómez