Make it your No. 1 priority to avoid single use items, in catering, promotion, decoration, etc.

Catering & Waste Management


  • Vegetarian/Vegan food options
  • seasonal/local foods
  • finger foods
  • avoid packaging/individual wrapped
  • sustainable caterers*

Dishes and Utensils


  • no to bottled water
  • fill glass jugs with water

Waste and Bins

  • clear signage : landfill/mixed recyclables/compost
  • bins for dirty plates, cutlery, napkins etc

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Event Promotion

Promote your event through digital channels on social media, through email, on university websites. Avoid (single use) printed materials such as handouts and posters. Websites like Eventbrite and Mailchimp offer easy and free ways to coordinate and promote your event.

Dishes and Utensils

One of the key factors in a fair food system is being kind to our environment and one of the easiest ways to do that is to eliminate single-use packaging when we're eating. The Fair Food UniCycle re-use service allows the university community to hire out cups, plates, glasses, cutlery as well as bins and more to run waste-free events.

Fair Food UniCycle

If you'd like the Fair Food Challenge team to come to an event, run an event or do a pop-up with The UniCycle please email them at

Catering Suppliers

In 2016, the University spent over $4M on ad-hoc catering services with over 680 different suppliers.

In 2017 a working group has been working on improving the level of catering services provided to the University of Melbourne. As a result, a new panel of preferred catering suppliers has been established and will deliver the following benefits to the University:

  • Provide better value to the University through discounts and rebates
  • Engagement with social enterprises
  • Improved end user experience by making ordering easy through a simplified catering website (still in progress)

Twelve suppliers have been awarded a two year contract to service the Universities catering needs.

The working group will be conducting 6 monthly reviews of all the suppliers, we encourage you to provide feedback on your experience.

*In regards to sustainability no one supplier provides sustainable, waste free options by default. So we could recommend going through the Sustainable Event Checklist and asking directly if they provide a waste free, environmentally friendly service.

The suppliers below offer socially sustainable options but can accomodate requests for a zero waste event. Please note that OzHarvest is not a caterer per se but a charity that can handle leftovers from an event.


Mission Caterers logo

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre logo

OzHarvest logo

Leftover Food Waste

Unfortunately, none of the organisations that work with food rescue operate on the small scale of left over catering from events. As such, it's important for staff to try and minimise the amount of food waste generated by events. The following guidelines are useful for event organisers to follow to reduce food wastage:

  • Send reminders to attendees prior to the event to ensure they rsvp/or cancel, ensuring accurate catering numbers. We recommend including reminders in event communications for attendees to rsvp, highlighting that their response can help eliminate waste.
  • Under-cater events. We find that under-catering by 10% generally covers food requirements well (this can be a little risky if it's a new event or you're not familiar with your audience, so please do take that into account).
  • Select food options that are easy to take away in containers, perhaps back to your office/department kitchen (remembering containers to bring along helps too).
  • Find nearby students! If your event takes place near students, invite them to take any leftovers with them. If there aren't any students nearby, you can visit a popular area and you'll be sure to be a hit with your leftovers.
  • If all else fails, and you do have leftovers that can't be disposed of, try and access one of the composting/worm farm facilities on campus.

If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to contact us.