5 ‘Big Questions’ to help you plan Waste Management at your event
Managing waste is an essential part of good event management. Whether your event is for 500 or 50,000 people, there will be rubbish to consider and it’s important not to leave your waste management plan until the last minute.
Here are our Top 5 questions that help professional organisers plan for a smooth event:
- What are the key timings?
If your event is just a few hours on one day, it’s likely that waste can be consolidated and removed in one batch at bump out. If it’s over a few days, you may need to make provisions for regular collections each day, to avoid rubbish building up and starting to stink.
If you have a weekend event, then you need to check if you can leave your waste on site until Monday to be collected. If not, you will need a supplier who offers weekend service [ps, we do].
Unsecured bins left in parks or public areas are prone to being vandalised and if rubbish blows out of a skip, it’s likely you will be charged the clean up fees for strewn litter. That’s why we suggest that if you plan to leave waste overnight, you should be sure that bins are secure. If you have a skip on site, make sure it can be locked or secure it with a tarp to avoid wind catching rubbish and blowing it back out again.
- How much rubbish am I going to generate?
This will depend on a number of factors, but will generally increase exponentially depending on the number of people and the amount of food or alcohol.
The lowest waste events typically just have a sausage sizzle and coffee or ice cream cart, so the waste footprint is limited to serviettes and disposable cups used by the public.
Having a bar on site makes a dramatic difference as bottles, cans, cardboard boxes and plastic packaging are huge contributors to event waste streams. Catering tents also tend to create more waste than food trucks as they are serving in bulk.
If you don’t have previous event records to go off, an experienced event waste professional will be able to help you estimate.
- Are you hoping to recycle?
Recycling from events is a unique challenge, as generally there are high levels of contamination. Straws, dripping coffee cups and pizza crusts left in boxes will contaminate entire bins. There are few refuse tips in Melbourne that will accept comingled event recycling as it needs to be manually sorted; making it expensive and unviable in many cases.
The good news, is that glass, aluminium and cardboard are straight forward; provided you can keep them separated from contaminants.
Doing what you can front of house with clear signage is important, but the only fool proof option is to get staff or volunteers to monitor each bin and educate the public. To facilitate this, you may consider ‘waste stations’ rather than individual bins spread around the ground.
Back of house, ask your wholesale suppliers to supply you in bulk where possible. Beer kegs and bulk flasks of wine make a significant difference to the manual handling involved with dozens of empty glass bottles. Wherever you can get catering packs rather than plastic wraps and supermarket quantities, consider this option. For example, the humble toilet roll. Buy a bulk box of 48 rolls; the cardboard will fold down for recycling and be cheaper than 8 x supermarket plastic wrapped packets. Every little bit helps.
If you are committed to creating a low waste event, limiting the potential waste bought on site is an option. Many event organisers already ban plastic water bottles, providing water fountains instead. You can consider reusable coffee cups and crockery; there are several innovative ways of managing this and we are happy to chat about your options.
- Are you accepting vendor or stallholder waste?
Some event organisers specify in their terms that food trucks, stall holders and vendors must bring their own bins and remove their own waste.
If you are going to manage their waste for them, you will need to allow extra bins and estimate waste removal costs.
- What resources will I need?
Firstly, let’s talk staff. Do your bins need to be emptied during the event and if so, who’s going to do it? Unless your event is very short or very low waste, it’s likely you will need a skip on site to empty into and someone to manage that.
Before you ask: no, leaving your bags of event rubbish tied up next to the Council bin in the park is not a plan! That’s akin to dumping and will likely see you banned from using that particular venue in future.
Skips on site vary from 1 – 30m3 and you will need separate skips for general waste and recycling. There is little point in asking the public to use recycling bins front of house, unless you have recycling skips back of house to collect it.
Planning skips and skip locations is critical and should be done early on. You want to have skips as close as possible to source of rubbish [ie behind bars or food courts] and your staff will need clear access to safely transport bins. When it comes to big events, the better your skip and bin placement, the better your labour costs and OHS management.
When deciding how many bins you need, find out how many the venue can supply and then assess if you need to hire extras. Best practice has bins on the key waste points: entry, exit, food court, coffee cart, back of house etc. The bigger the event ground, the more bins you will need.
What you save in bin hire, you will likely end up paying in labour for post event ground cleaning if you don’t have bins where your patrons have rubbish, so bear that in mind!
Finally, viewing your waste management supplier as a key partner in your event helps ensure things run as efficiently as possible. Involving your preferred supplier in preparation of your Waste Management Plan is a great idea so everyone is clear on expectations and requirements.
Total Event Solutions is committed to environmental protection and working with event organisers to implement waste minimisation strategies. We provide services to Councils, community groups and private event organisers. If you need advice on your event in Melbourne’s South Eastern Suburbs/Peninsula area, feel free to contact us for advice.