Zero waste events: achieving success

Zero waste events: achieving success

Zero waste events mean using resources more efficiently, creating potential cost savings while reducing environmental impacts, and it's all part of our corporate social responsibility. It is estimated that the majority of events currently recycle only 15% of total waste – which is both economically and environmentally unsustainable.

In 2012 London hosted the first ever zero waste to landfill Olympic and Paralympic Games. Now the UK events sector has a joint vision for a zero waste to landfill industry by 2020.

The guidance and best practice collected here is designed to help your event along the journey to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2020, no matter size, type or location. Use this page to guide you through the event experience with top tips and practical advice on each stage of an event – pre-event, in-event and post-event.

More information is being added to this site all the time so please return regularly.

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Getting ready

Pre-event

This covers the planning, contracting, training and pre-event communication required to set the stage for a successful zero waste event.

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Key areas to think about for this stage are:

  • Start early: embed waste management and resource efficiency into all event planning and contracting. Remember to plan early and not leave this to the end.
  • Know your waste: what it is, where it comes from, where it can go and what level of streaming is best for your event. This will help you identify what can be reduced and recycled.
  • Procure wisely: think about what you are sourcing: Where does it come from? Who made it? What is it made of? What is it wrapped in? What will happen to it afterwards?
  • Minimise waste: prevention is cheaper than disposal, so reduce the amount of waste that will be created and look for ways to re-use, recycle and compost before other disposal options.
  • Use contracts and set targets: set realistic, measurable targets and include them in contract procurement specifications. This will share the load and ensure suppliers are working with you.
  • Have a shared vision: engage all levels of the organisation from the beginning, making sure you have buy-in from senior management.
  • Form partnerships: between organisers, venues, contractors and suppliers; investigate community activity for re-use opportunities too.
  • Communicate: make sure you tell people what you are planning and what you want them to do (internal and external). Provide training and pre-event communications to engage your workforce, suppliers and contractors and start the ball rolling on the in-event communication for event-goers. This will all help ensure waste is streamed most effectively.
  • Review progress: provide update reports at regular intervals to let everyone know how well you are doing. Embed reporting requirements within contract conditions. This will help you learn what works and what doesn’t for the future.

For further guidance click the Get The Resources button on the left.

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Getting ready

Pre-event

Main Event
Main Event

Show time

In-event

Your detailed planning comes into action – waste is produced from participants, sponsors, attendees and workforce.

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Key areas to think about for this stage are:

  • Communicate, communicate, and communicate again: ensure people know what to do – clearly label waste containers and make sure they are visible and located near where waste is likely to arise; remind workforce of the things they have been taught; ensure suppliers are meeting the requirements of their contract.
  • Check systems: make sure that your planned waste management systems are in the right place, e.g. waste containers are placed where the waste is generated.
  • Manage: work closely with your workforce and contractors to ensure the waste management processes are being followed.
  • Monitor: observe your waste management system in operation and check whether it is working. Enforce contract management.
  • Review and report progress: report against targets and be flexible and adjust – if something is not working, change it so it does.

For further guidance click the Get The Resources button on the left.

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Show time

In-event

  • WRAP Event Resource Management Plan Tool - a free online tool for event organisers and suppliers to manage event waste.
  • London 2012 Learning Legacy: a collection of documents highlighting best practice and learnings applicable to all events gained from delivering a zero waste Olympic and Paralympic Games including: packaging and communications.

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Packing up

Post-event

After the event re-use comes into its own, breakdown is the culmination of waste management, reporting comes together and evaluation ensues.

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Key areas to think about for this stage are:

  • Take-down: make sure appropriate facilities are available to segregate waste produced at this stage e.g. flooring, temporary stands or timber and that these systems are working.
  • Re-use: The logistics of storing and moving material is now a reality – be prepared for this to take longer than planned and for things to change.
  • Recycle: where you can't re-use can you or others recycle rather than disposing to landfill?
  • Measure and evaluate: have you achieved targets? What worked, what didn't? What would you change? Look at lessons learned for your next event.
  • Report and share success: share successes and good practice with the people that made it happen (workforce, suppliers, contractors and event-goers) in order to create meaningful, quantifiable and long lasting change.

For further guidance click the Get The Resources button on the left.

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Packing up

Post-event

  • WRAP Event Resource Management Plan Tool - a free online tool for event organisers and suppliers to manage event waste.
  • London 2012 Learning Legacy: a collection of documents highlighting best practice and learnings applicable to all events gained from delivering a zero waste Olympic and Paralympic Games including: packaging and communications.

Useful links

There are many useful resources and websites available from WRAP, our partners and other other organisations. We have collected a selection of these here, contact us if you'd like to add more.

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Useful links

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