Preparing an Event Waste Management Plan: A Guide

Whether you are just beginning your journey as an event planner, or you’ve been one for a while and are looking for better ways to manage larger events, this guide to planning for event waste management will help you discover strategies you can use to make your event more efficient -- and possibly -- even more profitable.

Planning Event Logistics Details

When looking at special event planning, there are a lot of items that need to be accounted for. Of course, your vendors, parking, tickets, and other things are first to come to mind, but they all start with basics such as where, when, and “what time?” 

Just like that, a great event waste management plan starts with basics, like how many people will be there? Will this be a ticketed event or is it open to the public? Will there be a lot of vendors offering all sorts of different drink and food options? 

The answers to these questions will help you discover how much waste may be created at your event.  If all of your vendors are offering bottled drinks with paper trays, plastic silverware, and styrofoam cups, then your waste load can be pretty massive, especially for large events.

If you are open to the public, you can expect even more waste coming in as people walking down the street can (and will) easily take advantage of the extra trash receptacles nearby.

Obviously, if you are expecting large crowds, you’ll need more trash and recycling bins in different locations. And by offering both recycling and trash cans, you will be helping people do some of your work for you.  

By knowing these kinds of details about your event, you can better plan for the waste that will be created as a result. Now let’s talk about other things that may need to be thought over.

Is Your Special Event Free to the Public or Do You Need a Ticket?

Knowing the answer to this question will help in a few different ways as you begin building your strategy. By being open and free to the public, you will not have a definite number of guests to use as a guide for your waste management. 

You may end up with loads more trash than you anticipated since people walking along the street, perhaps shopping nearby, use your receptacles instead of waiting for their next stop. You may also deal with people thinking it’s a Bring Your Own Drink event, bringing in extra trash, which can make predictions for receptacles harder.

On the flip side of this, if you are requiring tickets to your event, you will have a much better idea of how many bins to use and where to place them in order to accommodate the number of guests you are expecting, which can help the bottom line.

Trash and recycling services are a must-have at any event, so being sufficiently prepared can help you save some time as well as cash.

What Waste Services Will You Want to Include?

Recycling bins have become a must-have at events across the country these days, which can help keep the earth a little cleaner. But with newer technology and better innovations, there are now more options for biodegradable food and beverage containers as well.

Some trash services offer composting bins as another available service option, as the world moves toward its efforts in becoming more sustainable. This is a great option to have, especially if you have any food vendors offering biodegradable trays, plasticware, or cups. 

Knowing which services are most important and necessary for you and your event will go a long way when planning out your waste management strategy.

9 Strategies to Create Your Waste Management Plan

Of course, there are a number of ways to take care of the waste at your event, and not all ideas will work for every event. Because of this, here are 9 ideas you may be able to incorporate into your event to make it more efficient, profitable, and enjoyable. 

  1. Offer Refill Stations. Help eliminate some waste by offering water refill stations for people to reuse their own water bottles or ones they’ve purchased from you already.
  2. Offer biodegradable food/beverage containers. Know that you will be offering these items and add the services to your plan now. Afterthoughts can be costly if you decide to offer them without proper disposal opportunities, and want to change your mind later.
  3. Place waste bins near food and/or drink vendors, near your entries and exits, at areas where people will interact/gather/rest, and near restrooms, as these are natural areas where trash is most likely to gather.
  4. Place trash and recycling bins right next to each other. Take the guesswork out of throwing something away or putting it into the right receptacles by placing them next to each other and making sure they are clearly marked.
  5. Make sure your bins are highly visible and not hidden behind tents or out of plain sight. Don’t make your guests play hide and seek with the trash.
  6. Get enough bins for the size of your event. This can’t be overstated. Not having enough trash/recycling receptacles can end up causing more of your team to be stuck on garbage and pick up duty. Be sure to have plenty of opportunities for your guests to get rid of their unwanted items easily.
  7. Plan a route for trash/recycling collection and deposit. Save time now by creating a route and prior known destination for all trash and recycling when bins are full.
  8. Plan a schedule for trash/recycling collection. If you know your trash services will not be coming as often as the bins may fill up, be sure to 1) know their schedule and 2) create a schedule for your team to gather bags up to keep the event running smoothly.
  9. Limit food/beverage offerings and/or encourage reusing items to help eliminate waste. Depending on the size of your event, you may be able to get away with not offering food, while also offering commemorative and reusable beverage containers. This will help keep your trash service budget down while also helping the event be clean, green, and sustainable.

If you look at the list above and wonder why anyone would need to plan for all of it, keep in mind that by doing some things now, you are avoiding spending the time and money on doing a lot of clean up later. 

And think about the “eye appeal”. Your guests would much rather see lots of empty trash bins rather than a few dirty and overloaded trash cans with mounds of garbage overflowing.

Adding extra trash and/or recycling bins near rest places, for instance, reduces the amount of trash left on your grounds, left for your crew to pick up. This saves you money on the time it would take your crew to do these chores, on top of the other items they need to accomplish at the end of the day.


By planning now, you are eliminating headaches later and increasing your bottom line. We hope you enjoyed this short guide to event waste management planning and if you’re planning on hosting or having your next large event in or around the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, click here for a free quote. We would be happy to discuss trash and the other kinds of waste management plans with you.

Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

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