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19 Waste Management Best Practices For A Sustainable Event

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19 Waste Management Best Practices For A Sustainable Event



What Impact Do Industry Events Have On The Environment

Have you ever visited or participated in a large corporate event or exhibition?

Were you given a ticket to print out or one sent in the mail? How about an attendees’ pack chocked full of useful leaflets, maps, and information?
If you took part, did you hand out branded merchandise, carrier bags, or bottles of water? Was your booth exploding with colourful banners and stands that showcased how you were a part of the unique "industry event"?

Now, would you consider your company to be economically, environmentally, and ethically responsible?

A large event produces vast amounts of waste.
Show guides, tickets, leaflets, stands, banners, food, bottles of water, carrier bags, promotional materials, giveaways…
And that is all without mentioning the energy used from power, lighting, heating and cooling, and the environmental impacts concerning water, catering, transportation, human waste, and noise, to name but a few. And this is all within a few short days!

FACT: For a 1000 person, three day event, 5670kg of discards are generated which translates to the weight of four compact cars worth of waste. Now consider how many events take place each week across the world.

Understanding the environmental impact a large-scale event can have is the first step in adopting sustainable thinking into the part you play.

Aligning environmental concerns with your marketing and budgeting aims may seem like a daunting task. But, if you incorporate sustainable thinking into your planning from the beginning you can add value to your brand and reflect a strong message of corporate responsibility in promoting a more resource-efficient and sustainable future.

Not only that but from a business stand-point, the cost of raw materials is rising along with the cost of waste disposal. Reducing, reusing, and recycling waste can help cut costs substantially and improve your bottom line.

FACT: The cost of sending waste to landfill in the UK is £72 per tonne in addition to a gate fee.

Reducing costs, sending a strong corporate message, all while still having a fantastic event can easily be achieved through good practices of waste management and sustainability that meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future.

Waste Management Best Practices

In order to minimise the negative impacts of your event you should follow the very simple mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle.

Ideally you will make the most efficient use of resources by minimising demand on primary sources and maximising the re-use, recycling, and recovery of all the event materials instead of sending them to a landfill.

The waste management hierarchy below is the process you ideally should always follow:
Waste Management Diagram

Howden supply blowers that support Waste-to-Energy waste recovery treatment

Research shows that a mid-sized corporate tradeshow with around 5,000 attendees goes through tons of waste with the following breakdown:
41% goes to landfill
35% will be recycled
21% is compostable
3% is donated

41% is still a huge portion that needs addressed - many events and initiatives are aiming for ZERO Waste to go to a landfill.

You may not have control over the entire event but there are many small steps and good practices you can put in place whilst participating that will have huge effects on reducing your footprint along with the overall events.

Preventing Waste At Your Event Booth

Reduce your paper use

“Go paperless!” people are shouting from the rooftops. And we won’t stop them, however we know that in many industries producing marketing materials such as leaflets and brochures are still a sure-fire way of getting the information you need across to your potential customers.

However we do have some handy tricks that might at the very least reduce the amount of paper that ends up going to waste:

  1. Don’t send out attendee packs before the event - simply hand them out on arrival to prevent duplication.
  2. Something as simple as formatting your pages to be double-sided can see surprising results.
  3. Only provide handouts on request.
  4. Have a laptop and printer at your booth so you can print out literature on request.

FACT: 60% of literature handed out at events gets thrown away - unread!

Go digital

We live in a digital world, people use technology to absorb and gain information so why not put this into practice to not only show your strengths in the digital sector but to also reduce hard copy materials.
Waste Management Digital view
Remember electricity is much easier to sustain than paper production - and don’t forget about renewables!

  1. Use options like e-tickets or digital passes for attendance.
  2. If you have the resources, develop an app that has all the pre-show documents and information that would be added into an attendees pack.
  3. Consider using an i-pad or tablet at your booth to allow people to explore your brand and service with high definition eye-catching displays.
  4. Even better - if you have the know-how why not implement AR or VR to really make your booth stand out as well as showcase your service and reduce waste.

Howden offer Augmented Reality views of equipment with key data trends in real-time. Find out more about Howden Uptime

Use well sourced and sustainable resources

Making sure your booth represents the very best of who you are and what you do is of vital importance. But you can still do all of that while making better choices in terms of well sourced, sustainable or reusable resources.

  1. If you need to print hard copy literature, banners, or posters source a printing company that provides eco-friendly solutions such as recycled paper, chlorine-free paper etc.
  2. Stands can now be designed to be re-configured and re-used rather than having it as a one-off for this event and then going straight to waste. They can also be designed using clean processes that cuts down on harmful toxins and fumes.
  3. Rent or borrow equipment that you need. Reusing past booth dressing, hiring from the venue itself, or even borrowing items will drastically cut down on waste as well as transportation emissions bring the items to and from the event.


Say no to single use plastic

If you don’t need it, don’t use it. And if you do need it, make sure it is environmentally friendly in the sense that it can be recycled or reused multiple times.

  1. Make things like name badges, lanyards, display stands etc. reusable by not making them event specific or make certain sections interchangeable to be reused again and again.
  2. If there are any items including snacks, water, or merchandise that are individually wrapped and you can’t avoid them - unwrap and recycle the wrapping yourself so you ensure it gets recycled in the proper manner.
  3. Plastic bottles are some of the most common items of waste at events - a fantastic idea is to set up a water dispenser at your booth with glasses - not only does this prevent the use of plastic but it also gives you an opportunity to keep passersby at your booth.

FACT: Tap water is 100 to 200 times cheaper than bottled water.

Implement waste stations at your booth

  1. Provide clearly labelled and coloured bins to promote recycling at your booth even offering incentives such as freebies if they sort it accordingly.
  2. Donation bins are also a great idea for items that attendees pick up at other booths and no longer want.
  3. Keep organic waste seperate for later composting.


Consider Your Merchandise

Branded merchandise giveaways are almost as essential to events as the booth itself. And there are even ways to do this in a more sustainable fashion.
Consider the lifespan of the item, what will happen once it has been used, how much use you can get from it, and does it help the user?

  1. Offer digital goodies such as discount codes, downloadables, or e-tickets to other events.
  2. Reusable and well sourced items such as reusable mugs or bottles, or eco-friendly tote bags are a great choice for a branded giveaway.

These are just a few simple tips and hacks that can be put in place at your future events to cut down on waste and promote a more eco-friendly future.

It is important to take responsibility and make the most efficient use of resources and to maximise re-use, recycling, and recovery of all event materials instead of treating them as waste.

How do you tackle waste management in your day to day lives, businesses, or events? 

Article Date

Friday, 06 September 2019



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