We are currently facing the very real consequences of poor waste management; dwindling resources, environmental contamination of our land and oceans, and climate change are all immediate issues that we need to take notice of. While it’s easy to assume that one person can’t make much of a difference to the overall issue, this isn’t always the case.
If everyone at an outdoor event such as a festival or sporting event held this belief, there would be staggering amounts of waste left behind. On the other hand, if each guest claimed a little responsibility for the waste they produce and disposed of it properly, there could be real potential to make Zero to Landfill events the norm in future.
Now is the time to take action. By managing your outdoor event waste effectively and responsibly, you and your event’s visitors have the power to make a difference. Read on to discover how to manage waste effectively at outdoor events.
Why does effective event waste management matter?
As things stand, waste is already a huge factor in an event’s carbon footprint and overall environmental impact. In fact, it’s been estimated that 68% of waste from every outdoor event ends up in landfills, which produce significant amounts of toxins, leachate, and greenhouse gases.
Waste can also be a big administrative nuisance for event organisers, as bad waste management can lead to negative media coverage and damage to the organiser and/or venue’s reputation. This is especially true when the audience or local community are directly affected.
On the flip side, there can be significant incentives and rewards for event organisers who go out of their way to manage waste effectively and promote sustainable behaviours, what with landfill taxes rising and free servicing now available for event waste streams.
Tips for managing outdoor event waste responsibly
There are a number of ways to manage your waste, and only you can decide which methods are right for you and your event. That being said, these tips from Devon Contract Waste can help you make cost-effective choices, enhance your event’s reputation, improve audience experience, and steer you in the right direction in terms of sustainability and environmental responsibility!
Establish a waste management plan
The first step you’ll need to take as an event organiser is to come up with a waste management plan, so you know exactly what you’re hoping to achieve and how. One of the easiest places to start is identifying what types of waste you’re expecting your event to produce and evaluating your current disposal methods, if you have any in place already.
You should then set out your initial aims. It can be helpful to refer to the European waste hierarchy to determine what areas are important to focus on. Some achievable yet measurable aims you could have include:
- Increase recycling rates
- Try to achieve zero waste to landfill
- Identify effective waste segregation systems
- Separate all food waste from general waste
- Manually collect all plastic and glass containers after the event
- Reduce the total amount of waste produced
- Engage visitors in recycling initiatives
Your aims will be influenced by a number of factors, such as the nature of the event, the types of waste it is likely to produce, the waste facilities available to you, and your existing waste management programme. However, the general approach outlined above can be applied to all event types and sizes.
Once you have set out your goals, you will have several clear areas on which to focus in order to make your event’s waste management scheme a success. You will also then be able to come up with key performance indicators that will allow you to retrospectively evaluate what worked and what didn’t work in order to improve your waste management plan in future.
Encourage guests to be sustainable
Encouraging visitor participation in waste management and sustainability initiatives can be challenging, but it is certainly beneficial. Events are often spaces where audiences are receptive to new ideas and behavioural changes, so they provide a great opportunity to send strong messages and set a good example when it comes to sustainability. Many events now adopt physical or financial incentives to encourage their visitors to participate, such as using visually pleasing reusable cups that they can return to the bar at the end of an event in exchange for a small amount of money.
One of the most effective ways of managing waste is to encourage the event’s attendees to reduce their waste and dispose of whatever way they produce properly and responsibly. This could be done using marketing materials such as leaflets, social media posts, promotional videos, and even on posters around the venue on the day of the event. Recycling education can also be carried out by placing notices in event information booklets or programmes, putting signage and information around the event site, and clearly communicating where and why to recycle at the various points of sale. This can help to gain audience attention and interest, making them aware of your waste management initiative and therefore more likely to participate.
Another effective way to manage your event’s waste is to limit what attendees can bring into the venue or onto the grounds. This can not only minimise the amount of waste produced but also makes it more likely that whatever waste you are left with falls into the categories you have planned for. For instance, you can ask guests to refrain from bringing their own drinks in containers that will inevitably end up in waste bins. As an added bonus, this kind of policy can also protect guests from ingesting food and drink from unknown or questionable sources and help to increase your overall revenue from the event.
Set up commercial recycling bin stations
If one of your aims is to make your event Zero to Landfill, or at least as close to it as possible, you’ll need to place a lot of emphasis on recycling whatever waste your event produces. One of the most effective ways to do this is to make recycling easy for your visitors and staff by placing the appropriate bins in convenient locations around your site.
Unfortunately, people will almost always use the most convenient bin rather than the correct bin. Therefore, we recommend always placing your recycling bins directly next to your general waste bins, as this encourages anyone disposing of waste to think twice before throwing it straight into general waste. It also makes it far more convenient and user-oriented for your event’s visitors, in the sense that they won’t have to go out of their way to make eco-conscious choices
Make sure that all of your general waste and recycling bins are clearly visible by placing them in high traffic areas. You should also remember that people have just a couple of seconds to choose which bin to use, so placing clear signs (with both pictures and text) at eye level will help people make a quick – and, hopefully, correct – decision. This is also a great way to make recycling accessible, as it can help to overcome language barriers and makes it so simple that even children could understand which bins to use.
Consider staffing your recycling stations too. Not only can this improve the accuracy of people’s recycling, but it also provides an opportunity to engage with attendees about your waste management and sustainability initiatives. This is especially beneficial if you’re hoping to market your event or organisation as being green or environmentally responsible.
Separate waste on-site
Another effective way to manage waste disposal following an outdoor event is to implement waste segregation. You can’t count on your visitors to put their waste in the correct recycling bin every single time but, by setting up separate bins for food waste, recyclables, and general waste will make it a little easier and quicker to dispose of all your waste once guests have left, as most of the waste will be correctly grouped together already.
For some events, setting up single-stream waste bins might make it easier to encourage guests to dispose of their waste in the first place, rather than leaving it on the ground. This can help avoid confusion, reduce laziness when it comes to waste disposal, and minimise the number of litter picking staff you require following the event. However, in order to properly dispose of all the waste in single-stream waste bins, you will most likely need to set up a comprehensive sorting station after the event and hire a fairly large team to separate waste materials and handle them accordingly.
Devon Contract Waste: Go-To Bin Supplier for Outdoor Events
Here at Devon Contract Waste, we offer a bespoke waste management service for events and festivals across the South West. Whether you’re hosting an event for hundreds of people or thousands, we’ll help you put a waste management plan in place and bring it into fruition.
Our event waste management service is proudly Zero to Landfill, meaning we recycle as much as we possibly can. By choosing us, you can rest assured that your event is environmentally friendly when it comes to waste disposal.
We can offer a range of recycling and general waste wheelie bins, rubbish skips, and RoRos, depending on your waste requirements. Our team will also gladly supply the bin bags, litter picking equipment, informative posters, and even the staff you need for your event.
If you’re looking for ‘recycling bins near me’ for your next outdoor event, Devon Contract Waste can help. Contact us today for a cost-effective and sustainable event waste management solution.