Sustainable Events: How To Reduce Your Event Waste

Running an event is no easy task. The planning, logistics, resources, and all the various details involved can be overwhelming. The added factor of making sure that the event is also following sustainability standards can understandably make the job much more challenging for you, especially if it’s your first time to do so. While it may seem like a difficult undertaking, there are smart and easy-to-follow practices that you can adopt to keep your event sustainable.

One of the primary things that you can do to achieve sustainability is to reduce event waste.  According to research, a typical 3-day conference event with around one thousand attendees produce at least 5.67 tonnes of waste. For a commercial event like a festival or a concert, this number could go much higher. In the UK, music festivals produce 23,500 tonnes of waste every year.

So how can you reduce your event waste to achieve sustainability? Here are some practical recommendations.

Go Paperless As Much As Possible

One of the unbeatable advantages of running events is the marketing potential they bring for many companies involved. However, many event organisers and participants still think that the only way they can maximise their marketing is by producing the traditional event collaterals such as paper flyers, brochures, banners, and tickets.

While these printed materials are considered as event mainstays that usually serve their purpose, they also make up for the bulk of waste generated. By eliminating or even reducing the amount of printed materials at your next event, you can considerably lessen your waste as well.

Take advantage of technological innovations in running your event. During planning, use cloud storage for accessing documents and sharing information with your team instead of printing unnecessarily. You can also use the cloud to store electronic brochures and other marketing resources that you want your attendees to access. Instead of giving them a physical brochure, email them a link so they can download the files directly. You can use an emailer in sending out information about the event, post-event surveys, and other marketing details.

An alternative to printing tickets is to set-up an electronic sign-up platform for attendees and use this to issue electronic IDs and tickets with a QR code or barcode that you can just scan upon their entry.

Give Out Promotional Items People are Less Likely to Throw Away

If you’re committed to having a physical giveaway to hand out during the event, consider going for branded gifts that visitors will more likely keep. Avoid giving out the usual gifts that may cost less but will only end up discarded. Keep in mind that cheap gifts are expensive because if they end up in the rubbish bin, then you did not get your money’s worth.

Some ideas of good corporate gifts are things people use in their everyday life like umbrellas, beverage flasks, and reusable shopping bags. If you have a higher budget, tech products such as USB drives, Bluetooth headsets, LED flashlights, portable chargers, and travel adaptors are also great options.

Implement Smart F&B Management

Whether it’s a small business conference or a huge scale festival, proper management of food and beverages remains an important priority. Miscalculating the amount of food being prepared leads to food waste, which is also a waste of time, money, and other resources. In order to avoid this, event organisers must diligently evaluate the nature of the event and review similar events to estimate the number of attendees better.

For smaller events, asking attendees to RSVP and indicate their food choices will provide a more accurate approximation of how much food is to be prepared. While some people believe that the solution is to prepare food in bulk, this may prove to be more wasteful in specific instances.

For example, preparing coffee in a huge pot may seem like you’re saving energy but since most people like their coffee hot and freshly brewed, doing this will only waste more coffee and energy if guests choose to brew another batch or reheat the coffee. As an alternative, there are now many types of coffee machines that are more energy efficient as they can cater to guests on demand.

Another good option for organisers is to install vending machines that will support the F&B demands of the guests. Because it is a self-service machine, this can save on resources as well as minimise the amount of prepared food required.

Minimise Single-Use Plastics and Materials

Event organisers, design agencies, and production companies spend countless hours trying to create materials that will make an event an impactful experience for its attendees. However, the sad truth is that after the event, most of these materials end up in the trash, never to be used again. While there’s nothing wrong with making an event look amazing, you can still make your event sustainable by selecting materials that can be reused or recycled.

Before building anything from scratch, check if there are ready options that you can rent out. Instead of printing banners, consider renting digital screens for branding. Avoid using single-use plastics like ID badges, shopping bags, and food utensils. Go for electronic or reusable alternatives. If you cannot completely avoid disposables, go for safer materials like cardboard badges, paper plates, and wooden utensils.

Set Up Recycle Bins

This may seem like an obvious requirement but many event organisers still do not prioritise the importance of waste management. Something as simple as setting up an adequate number of trash bins that are clearly labelled or colour coded will make a big difference.

There are now recycle bins that illustrate what types of rubbish should go into each bin. The great thing about setting up these types of trash bins is that not only are you making it easier to segregate the event waste, but you are also educating attendees on how to properly use such recycling tools.

Making a Sustainable Event Possible

Putting up a sustainable event might seem like it takes more time and effort, but you’d be surprised to discover that if done correctly, following sustainability standards will actually cut costs and save you time as well. At the same time, by keeping your event sustainable, you are also being environmentally and socially responsible.


Nathan Sharpe
Nathan Sharpe
NATHAN Sharpe is the entrepreneur behind Biznas. He knows that the life of an SME isn't easy, and you have to wear many different hats in order for your business to be a success. He helps others achieve this success by sharing everything he knows over on his blog, as well as any new lessons he learns along the way!

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