Waste Diversion at Special Events and Large Venues
Special events are a great way to engage the community and celebrate waste diversion programs and activities. Striving for zero waste is not impossible, especially if you choose to work with the City’s Environmental Resources Division to coordinate and plan ahead.
State and local policies require waste diversion at large events with 2,000 or more people in attendance. Each event is unique and therefore, working with a waste diversion specialist can make your event successful while ensuring effective waste minimization.
The City allows special event and large venue planners to borrow specialized collection containers for the three waste streams: trash, recycling, and food waste. The City also offers printable flyers and posters to help educate vendors and attendees to ensure that waste is placed in the proper container.
Here are some tips!
- Include recycling and organics in addition to trash from the start of the event planning process.
- Check with the facility to verify existing trash, recycling, and composting services. If these services will not meet your needs, contact the City for assistance in selecting appropriate recycling, compost, and trash containers for your event. Order extra service at least several weeks in advance.
- Advanced notification to vendors and/or caterers is important. A message with instructions about recycling and composting at the event should be included in your written event communications.
- Give the food vendors information ahead of time about local food pantries that can be notified for edible food donations. Don’t let all that good food go to waste!
- Think about the location of the containers and who will be using them (public or staff) so you can place them appropriately. There is a variety of equipment available: including carts, flyers, and large boxes.
- Identify who will be emptying the recycling, organics, and trash containers at the event. Communicate with them to determine what needs to be done from set-up to closing to achieve successful recycling and composting. This is part of planning for the event and should not be done on the day of the event.
- Always place recycling and organics containers adjacent to trash containers — neither should ever be alone, since a lone recycling container will just fill up with trash and visa versa! Lidded containers with restricted openings work best for recycling and composting since this discourages trash.
- Recycling, composting and trash containers should all be different colors (blue for recycling and green for compost, and black for trash). If bags are used, use clear for recycling and organics so that the contents are easily recognizable. Some events will also have white cardboard trash receptacles. Be sure to clearly identify each container to minimize contamination.
- Proper signage on all containers is key. It should be clear what items can be recycled and composted — use graphics and provide the information in all commonly spoken languages whenever possible.
- Reminders (signs posted at the venue, live stage announcements, messages in event programs, or promotional materials) help reinforce the recycling message.
- Make sure ample recycling and compost containers are placed near high-volume areas: bars, kitchens, food bussing areas, food stalls, etc.
- Remind staff and/or volunteers of duties — particularly the cleanup crew. A day of great recycling efforts can be obliterated if the cleanup crew has not been trained. If you are not able to recruit volunteers for cleanup, paying for assistance during this critical time is a worthwhile investment.
- Make sure trash cans are emptied regularly. If trash cans overflow, guests and staff will start using the available recycling and compost containers for trash.
- Special events typically produce a lot of waste, which can lead to unexpectedly huge garbage bills. Recycling can save you money. There is always a charge for trash collection, while recycling service is usually provided at a reduced rate. Organics collection generally costs half of the trash rate.
- State and County policies require recycling and composting at large events.
- Your guests will notice and appreciate it – recycling is good PR!
- By recycling and composting, you save valuable resources, conserve energy and reduce pollution.
- Increasingly, corporations and agencies give preference to green practices when shopping for event locations and service providers.