New plan launched to tackle waste at all UK events

5th March 2013

Today sees the launch of “Zero waste events: a 2020 vision”, a new event industry roadmap initiative with the goal of no waste being sent to landfill from UK events by the end of the decade.

The events industry is a complex sector comprising of thousands of operators of all shapes and sizes. It supports around 25,000 businesses and some half a million full time equivalent jobs. It has a significant impact on the economy, with a current value of £36 billion1 projected to rise to £48 billion by 2020. The industry, however, could maximise the opportunities afforded by reducing waste to its advantage. While some of the sector has achieved as much as a 50%2 recycling rate for their events, most are averaging just 15%, with a large amount of waste going direct to landfill.

The Events Industry Roadmap has been developed by WRAP working with the events industry as part of its work on the European Pathway to Zero Waste project (EPOW). The roadmap draws on lessons learned from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, creating a series of steps that events and the industry can take to achieve sustainable events.

The roadmap is the first stage in raising awareness of the positive impact which effective management of waste has on the delivery of events, both economically and environmentally. Specifically it:

  • Sets out a clear vision for how the industry can achieve zero waste to landfill from the events sector by 2020;
  • challenges the industry to consider how it can work more in partnership across the whole supply chain, working individually and collaboratively, to reduce waste and
  • highlights the steps that need to be considered when preparing for and delivering a zero waste event - whatever the size, nature or location; be it commercial, cultural or sporting.

Dr Liz Goodwin, CEO, WRAP, said: “The London 2012 Olympics showed just what could be achieved by a clear commitment, by trying to prevent waste and manage it sustainably. Making waste prevention part of an event’s plan can deliver significant savings for businesses large and small. It will benefit all, from local community activities right up to large scale UK events like the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow. The events industry roadmap was developed to support business growth by managing resources efficiently. It’s a simple vision, but it’s only by the industry individually and collectively taking on the challenge, that this vision can be realised – creating the opportunities for real economic benefits.”

Lord de Mauley, Resource Management Minister, said of the new sector initiative: “The UK has a rich and diverse heritage of music festivals, sporting events and cultural activities running throughout the year. These bring considerable economic benefits to our towns and cities through domestic spending and by attracting tourists to our shores.

“An industry worth £36 billion can make significant savings by tackling waste and reducing the impact waste overheads have on the bottom line. The industry can use this roadmap to improve their business returns through simple, collective effort.”

The roadmap is relevant to all those involved in planning and delivering events from event organisers/planners, managers and contractors, venue owners and promoters, corporate sponsors, local authorities, waste contractors, hospitality and catering companies to construction firms and builders. It is by key stakeholders taking action that the supply chain will be influenced most effectively, encouraging each link to review its own actions to minimise waste outputs, and maximise economic benefits.  

The events roadmap is supported by a dedicated events industry portal This is home to resources produced by WRAP, its partners, and third parties and which also signposts users to other useful information to help events become more sustainable. It will form a central repository for materials and information relating to achieving zero waste events. These include, for example, WRAP’s event Resource Management Plan Tool, an online tool for event organisers and suppliers to manage event waste, as well as the London 2012 Learning Legacy documents.


Notes to Editor

1. The value of £36 billion comes from the ‘Britain for Events Report’ published 2010.
2. Defra Commercial & Industrial plan, November 2009
3. Created as part of the EPOW project, a partnership between WRAP and the Environment Agency, the events roadmap will also be disseminated in Europe.
4. The 2020 vision reads: “Achieve a zero waste to landfill event sector by 2020, where we make the most efficient use of resources by minimising demand on primary resources, and maximise the re-use, recycling and recovery of all event resources instead of treating them as waste”.
5. The launch of the events industry roadmap offered delegates the opportunity to hear from leading industry players and take part in round table updates and discussions on a range of waste related topics. Other speakers included the former Corporate Sustainability Manager for LOCOG; Lord’s Cricket Ground; McDonalds and SITA.
6. The ‘roadmap’ approach has been used successfully as collaboration between industry, supply chains, regulators and government across a variety of industry and product sectors such as construction, retail, dairy and clothing. A “roadmap” is a process which helps different sectors to understand the environmental and wider sustainability impacts their actions/outputs have. A Roadmap aims to show: the ways in which these impacts can be mitigated against; what the barriers are; and what steps are required to address the barriers. Roadmaps highlight the benefits in taking positive action.

WRAP’s vision is a world without waste, where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership to help businesses, individuals and communities improve resource efficiency. Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on @WRAP_UK

European Pathway to Zero Waste (EPOW) is an EU demonstration project part funded by LIFE+, the EU’s funding instrument for the Environment and is a partnership between the Environment Agency and WRAP. The project has been set up to investigate practical ways to achieve zero waste to landfill in the South East of England. It will share the results with colleagues both in the UK and in relevant EU Member States. Zero waste in this context is an approach to supporting the sustainable use of resources by business to benefit both the economy and the environment. It concentrates on reducing, re-using, recycling and recovering energy from waste. The project will run to March 2013. More information on European Pathway to Zero Waste can be found at

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Ian Palmer

PR Officer, WRAP
01295 819 677