Guidance for
Outdoor events

How to better understand your waste and recycling

You need to decide whether to provide waste and recycling services for your vendors or stallholders, or whether you will require vendors and stallholders to be responsible for disposing of their own waste. Taking on this responsibility as event organiser ensures you know that all waste and recycling has been disposed of responsibly and in accordance with the new law. If you decide that vendors and stallholders are responsible for their own waste, your agreement with them should include a requirement that they comply with the new law.

Doing a waste audit could be a useful way of seeing what type of waste you produce. If you have held your event before, you should be aware of the types and volumes of waste it will produce. Use this to think about how many containers you will need for both recyclables and waste to ensure you comply with the new recycling law.

The areas where you are most likely to generate waste could be:

  • From stall holders, exhibitors, mobile caterers, and on-site kitchens producing food (preparation waste), packaging such as metal, glass, cardboard, plastic films and wrapping

  • Front of house – food and food packaging, drinks cans, plastic and glass bottles, and drinks cartons and

  • Back stage areas, staff room/mess room/office – food and food packaging, drinks cans, plastic and glass bottles, drinks cartons, small electricals, and textiles.

Events may also generate types of hazardous waste, such as paints, oils or chemicals that require a specialised waste collection service.

If your event or festival is being held on land that you do not own, the landowner may prohibit the use of certain waste types. For example, if the event is in a park or on the highway, some landowners will not permit glass to be used. If this is the case, use the terms and conditions in your trader or catering agreements to prevent the use of prohibited items, and require alternatives such as reusable or refillable packaging to be used instead.

If your event is on public land or on the public highway, you will likely be responsible for all waste removal and litter picking after the event, meaning you will be responsible for penalties if the area is not left clean and tidy afterwards. Check the terms and conditions of your event permit, agreement, lease, or licence to determine your responsibilities.

Event organisers are responsible for assessing risks associated with storage, handling or use of waste and of implementing effective control measures to avoid and control any identified risks. Hazards associated with poor waste management at events may include:

  • Accumulations of waste blocking emergency access or escape routes, presenting trip or fire hazards and attracting vermin – reduce health and safety risks by ensuring waste storage areas are located away from flammable sources, and that flammable materials such as cardboard are stored in sealed or secure containers;

  • Inappropriate waste storage area and collection timings – identify suitable waste storage area(s) with restricted public access which prevent waste collection vehicles from encountering visitors. Consider proportionate mitigations associated with the size and scale of your event and

  • Injury to workers due to handling waste, for example needle stick injuries, back strains caused by excessive manual handling, and possible infection by pathogens such as tetanus.