How do we make our events more sustainable. One of the biggest problems with some of our community and tourism events is that they create an enormous amount of waste and often have a great deal of difficulty dealing with litter and trying to get people to recycle properly while they are busy enjoying themselves.
With many events involving eating and drinking – alcoholic and non-alcoholic – the waste issues include large amounts of single use materials such as cups, plates, cutlery etc along with food and packaging from vendors. The challenge is how do you get patrons to put items in the appropriate bins if you have recycling options or better still how do you reduce the amount of waste that is produced during the event.
As with many aspects of our waste issues these days we are starting to see waste reduction options starting to emerge from events as well.
Wash against waste programs where patrons are provided with reusable plates, cups, cutlery etc and volunteers wash them once they are used is one option. Other options for events include a business that provides reusable cups for events. Patrons pay a deposit of $3 per cup on top of their drink price for the first cup. As they bring the cup back they do not have pay for a new cup. The last time they return the cup (assuming they choose not to keep it) they receive one dollar back. This system essentially pays for itself with the $2, the cups are washed and reused and there is a significant reduction in waste going to landfill.
Food waste at events is waste of resources, of time and effort, and of course, of money. It costs to buy the ingredients, pay the staff and then to dispose of the waste. Food waste at events also contributes to startling global food waste statistics, estimated at 1/3 of all food produced being lost or wasted.
Some tips to reduce food waste at events.
- Serve less food.
- Avoid over-catering – Accurately estimate the volume of food required considering the number of attendees, the event type and timing of activities or breaks.
- Accurately brief caterers & food stalls – Communicate honestly the likely event attendance to caterers and food vendors.
- Don’t overbook – Ensure you don’t book too many food stallholders considering the likely event attendance.
- Attendee appetite -Understand if attendees may bring their own food and adjust communications and logistics accordingly.
- Pricing – Ensure pricing of food does not lead to lower sales volumes than anticipated.
- Food Salvage Planning – Have a food salvage/re-distribution program in place. Request caterers do not uncover/open/serve all food at once, so that if over supply has occurred, the perishable food has been handled correctly for donation to food salvage programmes.