Three easy steps to successful Event Waste Management

Providing event organisers with timely tips and simple advice that can make a difference, Grundon’s Steve Hill talks sustainability, goals, planning and good practice.

This summer promises an action-packed calendar as events and festivals finally return after a two-year covid-induced hiatus.

From huge sporting occasions such as The Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone to the family fun of CarFest South; from smaller county fairs to trade shows and exhibitions; there is one topic that the organisers need to think about in advance – how to manage their waste.

Step One – pre-event planning

The earlier you start to plan your event waste management, the more successful you will be in achieving your goals.

Start by appointing someone within your organisation to take responsibility for waste and decide what your goals are going to be. Typically, these may include:

  • Zero waste to landfill

  • Increasing your overall recycling versus previous years

  • More segregation of different waste streams to maximise recycling, reuse and recovery

  • Minimising on-site vehicle movements and reducing the number of collections

  • Educating event staff, suppliers and visitors about the importance of recycling

  • Being recognised as an organisation/event that cares about the environment and its neighbours, so you’ll be welcomed back another time

  • Collecting post-event recycling data to measure eco and financial savings and help set future goals

It can help to break these down into ‘bite-sized chunks’ – don’t expect to deliver against all your goals in one season, decide your priorities and match them against your budget.

Make sure you have good channels of communication with on-site contractors, venue operators, suppliers etc., as they all play a vital role in getting waste management right.

Think carefully about the different types of waste you are likely to have on-site:

  • Plastics, cans and glass

  • Cardboard/packaging

  • Food

  • Paper

  • Campsite waste

  • Hazardous waste

  • General waste

Managing your waste

Typically, options for managing your waste will be:

  • Recycling/Reuse/Recovery – requires separate containers to avoid contamination with other items

  • Anaerobic digestion – turns segregated food waste into green energy and bio-fertiliser

  • Energy from Waste – guarantees diversion from landfill and generates renewable electricity for the National Grid

  • Landfill – considered the least environmentally-friendly option

Choosing the right supplier

Appointing and working closely with a company that has experience in event waste management is a huge advantage, because its team can give you the best advice and share its expertise.

Some events choose to work directly with a waste management company, while in other cases it may be included within an event organiser’s services or in liaison with specialist cleaning companies. Whichever the approach, it’s important to work together and communicate well.

We always recommend asking plenty of questions, not least of which is making sure a company is a registered waste operator. That aside, typically you want to know:

  • Are they proactive with ideas?

  • Will they help you understand your event priorities?

  • Can they tailor a flexible waste management plan to meet your needs – within your budget

  • Will they provide a detailed timeline showing key dates, decisions and actions so everyone is clear about their responsibilities

  • Can they provide testimonials and case studies to demonstrate their experience

  • Is all their equipment clean and well-maintained, including their vehicles

  • Do they have a full range of container sizes and will they provide signage

  • Will they have staff on-site during the event and is there a 24/7 point of contact

  • Where will your waste go and how will it be measured

  • Will there be a post-event wash-up to review your waste audit results

Knowledge, experience and compliance

Using the knowledge and experience we’ve acquired over many years of handling waste for events, we can advise customers on the likely number of containers required (based on planned attendee numbers plus the number of food and drink outlets); how many on-site compactors will be needed; we look at the location of the venue and any access restrictions…basically we’ll be prepared for all eventualities – including the English weather!

We can also provide tips and advice, working with catering suppliers and providing signage and separate food waste caddies back-of-house to help segregate leftover or unwanted food. This can then go in special food waste bins and collected separately – because food waste is so heavy, keeping it out of general waste bins can actually save organisers money and it’s a greener approach too because it generates renewable electricity.

We don’t forget event visitors either – these days most people want to know how to recycle and they really value having simple, clear signage which directs them to bin stations or containers where they can leave their waste.

Having this level of help and understanding from a waste supplier is invaluable, and never more so than when it comes to compliance and legal responsibilities.

Take for instance an event with camping on-site, hazardous waste can include fridges, BBQs, aerosols and camping gas bottles. If disposal is handled incorrectly or by an unregistered operator, the authorities can impose a fine.

And remember…there are no second chances when it comes to events, you and your waste management provider have to get it right first time.

Step Two – during the event

By the time the big day dawns, everyone should know their responsibilities and everything should be in place.

Your waste management provider should be easily contactable in case of any last-minute changes (such as the larger than expected numbers of people or heavy downfalls of rain), and the on-site team should be checking on issues such as the need to empty full bins into compactors and/or make any changes.

Having eyes on the ground will also help ensure that useful information is recorded for future planning.


Step Three – post-event review

As soon as the event is over and the crowds have departed, the big clean-up swings into action. This will include removing both waste and containers from the site as smoothly and efficiently, returning the location to its original state as quickly as possible.

With the physical work completed, ask your waste management provider for a post-event review. The type of data you want to ask for will be:

  • How much waste was recycled/reused/recovered

  • How much food was sent to Anaerobic Digestion

  • How much went to Energy from Waste

  • How much went to landfill

  • How many different waste stream collections were achieved

  • The number of vehicle movements on site

With that information, your waste management provider should be able to tell you:


  • The percentage of different recyclables and recovered materials (plastics, glass, cardboard etc)

  • CO2 reporting statistics

  • The equivalent number of trees saved

  • The amount of green energy generated

All these are vital statistics in helping to benchmark success, set new goals and assess where further improvements can be made.

And finally, don’t forget to share those successes with employees, contractors and suppliers – the better impression you make now, the stronger the platform to build on for the future.

Learn more about our dedicated Event Waste Management service, and speak to a member of our Special Events team today about how Grundon can make your event greener and save you money.

Call us on 08700 604 366 or email