Event Waste Planning Guide
What goes into an event must come out - that's how waste is generated. As an event organiser there are a number of simple actions that you can take to reduce the amount of waste generated by your event.
When making an application to hold a public or private event in a public place, organisers must also provide a waste management plan. If you require any support or guidance, please don't hesitate to contact our Events Coordinator on 07 8850340 or send us an email.
GET A COPY OF THE "EVENT WASTE PLAN TEMPLATE" HERE. Complete this form and send to the Events Coordinator at the link above.
- Communicate with all waste producers to find out the waste types coming from the site
- Have someone responsible for waste planning, and waste management on the day of the event
- Incorporate waste into health and safety planning
- Source a waste collector and infrastructure
- Complete the Event Waste Plan questionnaire for approval
- Provide waste stations in sets for recycling and rubbish rather than single bins
- Be clear and consistent with waste signage to prevent contamination in bins
- Collect waste data to promote diversion (set a goal for diversion early in the planning stages)
- Manage litter during and post event
- Promote your success in the media
Vendors and Packaging
In the temporary world of events, being able to sell large quantities of food and beverages quickly in disposable packaging can seem like the only practical option. However, long-lasting, durable, reusable solutions are available and are the most preferred sustainable alternative. Consider the following options:
- Reusable cups that attendees can purchase or pay a bond for. This reduces ground litter and resource required to operate your waste system.
- Organise a system with real crockery - you can wash this onsite or offsite post event (sometimes known as a wash against waste system).
- Encourage attendees to bring a drink bottle or reusable cup.
There are many types of compostable packaging now available for sale on the market. Shifting to compostable packaging is only worthwhile if you can collect and compost it in a commercial facility. Most non-commercial facilities don’t reach high enough temperatures to break the packaging down properly so it can end up in landfill instead. Check with your waste provider if they can accept compostable packaging however, to be sure it’s not landfilled, we recommend using reusable or recyclable packaging in its place.
All food waste can be composted at a commercial facility, this includes left overs from food vendors, banana peels (from sporting events), paper napkins and meat. If only food waste is being collected, it must be made clear that no compostable packaging is accepted. If commercial compost is not an option, at small events and sporting events compostable waste could be added into a home compost bin. Zero contamination would need to be achieved for this to work.
It’s good to reduce glass at events due to the risk of it breaking. However, glass is readily recyclable in New Zealand if it’s sorted by colour. Talk to your service provider about what they can provide for your glass. You could even streamline the colour of glass at your event by requesting your stall only stocks one colour of glass.
Some items are unable to be recycled or composted, therefore must go into a rubbish bin and sent to landfill. Try to avoid these items where possible. Refer to the event recycling and waste guide for a list of landfill-only items. Contaminated compost or recycling will also be sent to landfill by your waste contractor.
IMPORTANT: recyclable food containers need to be completely cleaned before they can be sent for recycling. Make sure to take this into account when you do your planning.
Waste Staff and Volunteers
Waste minimisation at events requires staff, whether volunteer or paid, for pre-planning and execution. While you may be able to do planning yourself, you’ll need waste staff on the day for execution.
Waste Operations Manager
Have someone in charge of waste on the day. This person will arrange and pack down the waste stations, liaise with service providers and ensure waste is decontaminated. Consider them a logistics person.
A Volunteer Manager may recruit your Waste Ambassadors and manage them on the day. They’ll communicate H&S information, sign Waste Ambassadors in and out, and be a central point of contact. Consider this person a people manager. The Waste Operations Manager might be able to do this job if they have both skill-sets.
Waste Ambassadors (paid or volunteer)
Waste Ambassadors or Educators monitor waste stations, helping event goers put their waste in the correct bin. They should be trained in identifying different types of packaging and be encouraged to interact in a positive, supportive manner with event goers.
Prevent plastic and other waste getting into waterways by ensuring litter is collected routinely during your event. This can be done by any of your waste staff and/or the rest of your event crew, but the responsibility must be give to someone to ensure litter is collected during the event as well as after pack down. This includes the area inside and immediately outside (e.g. parking areas, nearby streets) your event.
Some event organisers even feel their crowd can be better behaved if there is no litter on the ground. You can allocate some of your volunteer force to this task.
Communication and Funding
Invite everyone onboard the waste minimisation train
Make sure everyone involved with your event knows about your plans to divert as much waste as possible from landfill.
- Start by compiling a list of all stakeholders: event staff and planners, promoters, media, vendors, contractors, suppliers, venue owners, sponsors, performers, volunteers, attendees etc.
- Tell them your plans and expectations of them via the most appropriate channel: email, phone, text, website updates, marketing, social media posts, by-line on your event ticket, posters, advertising, signage at the event, MC announcements, staff briefings, vendor agreements or competition for greenest stall.
Communicating with vendors
Many event organisers are making it mandatory for their vendors to use reusable or recyclable packaging. Make sure to communicate your packaging expectations/requirements as there are a lot of options for packaging and not all of it is accepted by the local compost facility or recyclers. Before contacting vendors, ensure you know what type of waste streams you will be collecting (i.e. rubbish, recycling, food scraps). To find this out, contact waste service providers and ask them what infrastructure they can provide for you to collect your waste.
Infrastructure and Site Planning
How many bins do I need?
This will vary depending on a number of factors:
- how long your event runs for
- how many meal times it encompasses
- the size of your site
- whether people will be bringing in other waste
What to do with your collected rubbish/recycling/ compost waste?
Event operators can take recyclable materials to a transfer station free of charge, or you can use a service provider. There are a range of service providers that can provide rubbish, recycling and compost collection services at events. Contact multiple service providers and see competitive quotes on the services (waste types and bin sizes) they offer.
Ensure your stations are easy to find, logical, visible to attendees, and consistently signed. Think about access (moving wheelie bins and full bags of waste to and from your station). Avoid random standalone rubbish bins.
Especially at large events, consider assigning an area to be your ‘waste hub’ (this is a back of house area).
- Service providers can deliver/collect bins,
- Decontamination/sorting can take place,
- It can serve as a waste staff meeting point.
If 1,000 or more people are expected attend, you will also need to submit a Post Event report on waste to Council after. The post-event report template can be found at the end of the Event Waste Plan template.
Health & Safety
Incorporate your waste activity into your event's Health & Safety Management Plan. For help with your health and safety plan, see the Event Health and Safety Plan template.
- Identify your events' waste specific risks for your event site.
- Communicate and train staff/volunteers on waste specific risks to them (eg, handling broken glass) and how to avoid these risks.
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE), eg, cut-proof gloves, barrier gloves, hand-washing stations and litter pickers.