Planning and Executing a More Sustainable Waste Management Programme

Photo credit: Carolina Faruolo (courtesy of Bestival)

Lindsey Barnett is a Key Account Manager at Waste Cost Reduction Services (WCRS). Lindsey works with the team that specialises in the events sector, providing consultancy, waste management services and staffing to events, festivals and hospitality venues. Working with clients to help improve waste management practices, WCRS has recently published a free knowledge guide to managing waste and recycling at events. Drawing on her knowledge and experience, Lindsey takes us through some of the steps outlined in the guide to help festival and event organisers manage their waste more sustainably, compliantly and economically.

The key to a successful event waste management programme is effective pre-planning.

Engage with stakeholders early on by arranging a strategy meeting well in advance of a planned festival or event. This will help festival and event organisers to understand the waste and recycling requirements of the caterers, cleaners and contractors during build, the event itself and de-rig.

By identifying the different recycling and waste streams early on in the planning of a festival or event, organisers will be in a better position to manage waste efficiently and ensure that all necessary legal requirements are met.

Choosing the right equipment

Each aspect of a festival or event will demand different needs in terms of containers and equipment. Be aware of lead times for equipment, the benefits of purchase over hire and vice versa, space and access restrictions and the health and safety implications of the vehicles and equipment utilised on site.

There are a number of factors which will affect the type of collection schedule and equipment implemented by festival and event organisers. These include: access restrictions, waste volumes, waste types, the health and safety of the public and any noise abatement restrictions.

Choosing the right recovery and treatment methods

With the introduction of more stringent legislation aiming to drive more responsible and sustainable waste management practices, organisers will need to consider what recycling, recovery or disposal options to use.

The 2020 vision roadmap developed by WRAP sets out a vision to achieve a zero waste-to-landfill event industry by 2020. We know through observation and research that festivalgoers are becoming more aware of sustainability and environmental issues.

By looking at what recycling and recovery options are available in advance of a festival or event, the best solution can be planned in line with legislation and any sustainability aspirations and targets.

Meeting your obligations

It is important that festival and event organisers choose the right contractors, as they have a duty of care to ensure that waste is handled responsibly and in line with legal requirements, from the collection of waste through to treatment or reprocessing. Organisers will need to obtain copies of all relevant paperwork to ensure suppliers are fully compliant, licensed and insured. For large scale festivals and events any organiser would do well to appoint a waste manager who is solely responsible for managing the waste.

With a range of different waste streams there may be a requirement for multiple contractors to collect and dispose of waste and recycling. Consideration needs to be given to how to manage this, particularly if more than one contractor will be on site at any one time.

We recommend appointing a manager whose sole responsibility is the control of the waste and recycling programme for the event. Ideally this individual will be on site at all times during build, the event itself and de-rig.

Communicating your programme

Research carried out by the Event Tutor and featured in Festival Insights supports the importance of clear signage at recycling stations and showed that participants are willing to recycle given the means to do so.

Clear signage needs to accompany all bins, whether used by the public, contractors or the waste management team. Colour coded bins / labelling can help to more easily identify the correct containers for the correct waste streams.

Plan for every eventuality

We recommend having contingency plans in place should vehicles break down, compactors stop working or there is major disruption to local infrastructure which could prevent vehicles accessing site and result in a major disruption to the event.

Monitoring and review

Once the festival is in full swing, close monitoring of the waste management process and the containers will mean there are no nasty surprises at the end of the event when you are calculating whether you have met your recycling targets.

The event waste manager should closely monitor the containers throughout the duration of the event in order to identify any contamination early on. By closely reviewing the process you will be able to respond to issues as they arise and as such minimise any associated environmental and economic impacts.

To obtain a full copy the Knowledge Guide to Managing Waste at events, either send WCRS an email or visit its official website.

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