Venue & Event Planning
San Mateo County has vibrant communities, successful businesses, and superb weather—all of which inspire residents and businesses to organize a wide range of indoor and outdoor events. With any event, however, comes the inevitable byproduct: waste.
Organizers of events large and small are eager to reduce the amount of waste generated by their activities, and to reuse or recycle leftover items whenever possible. In addition, California State Law AB 2176 requires operators of large venues and organizers of large events to develop a waste-reduction plan, and to report the results of that plan to the designated local agency. If your event qualifies as a “large event” per this law, the “Post-Event Recycling Report Form” should be used to report the solid waste and recycling data from your event or venue. Download and complete this worksheet within one month of your event and submit it to Rethink Waste. Please remember to keep a copy for your files.
Your agency, organization or venue must comply with the AB2176 event reporting requirements if you meet the following guidelines:
- If your event averages more than 2,000 participants(attendees, staff, vendors, etc.) per day; AND it falls into either of the following categories:
- There is a fee to participate in the event.
- The event is sponsored by a city or county agency.
Download our Planning Guide to help you plan your next event.
Reduce, Reuse, RecycleREDUCE
RethinkWaste encourages all event organizers to make their events Earth friendly.
By reducing, reusing, and recycling the waste generated by your special event, you can:
-Help the environment by minimizing the creation of greenhouse gases and the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills
-Decrease your costs for garbage collection, storage, and hauling
-Enhance your organization’s reputation as a community leader
-Preventing waste in the first place conserves natural resources and energy otherwise used in the production process.
-Replace printed programs with electronic display boards
-Offer condiments in bulk dispensers instead of single-serving packets
-Rent or borrow equipment rather than purchasing it
Extending the useful “life” of a product reduces the amount of waste going to the landfill
-Encourage vendors to replace disposable service ware with reusable products
-Donate unused items such as paper towels and plastic utensils to schools and charitable groups
-Reuse decorations and packaging materials at future events
Recycling means re-incorporating materials into the production process. This reduces the use of “virgin” materials, saving energy and resources.
-Recycle beverage containers and mixed paper
-Collect food scraps, food-soiled paper, and plant trimmings for composting
-Purchase compostable service ware (if Food Scraps Composting Collection Service is provided)
Top 5 List for Event Planners
The policies you set for purchasing materials for your event — and the purchasing guidelines or rules that you establish for your vendors — can reduce the overall amount of waste, as well as increase the percentage that can be recycled or composted.
- Buy in bulk to reduce the quantity of single-use items and pre-packaged foods.
- When practical, purchase reusable food service items, including cups, plates, and utensils.
- In your catering or food services contract, mandate the use of reusable, recyclable, or compostable items (if subscribing to organics recycling or composting collections service).
- If you offer on-site composting, ask your food service supplier about "environmentally friendly" options, such as bioplastic or other compostable food service ware.
- When possible, rent instead of buying tables, tableware, linens, carts, area carpeting, computer equipment, overhead projectors, and other items.
Educate your vendors and staff
Vendors, paid staff and volunteers play crucial roles in reducing waste. Get them enthused about your program, and make sure they understand how they can help make it successful.
- Include waste-reduction information in your communications to vendors, such as on your website and in their registration packages.
- In your orientation meetings prior to the event, educate both paid staff and volunteers about the importance of recycling and proper recycling procedures.
- Make sure all volunteers know which materials will be recycled so that they can direct event attendees to the proper recycling stations.
- Ask vendors, staff members, and volunteers to contribute ideas for waste reduction, and reward those whose ideas you use.
- Send certificates of appreciation to vendors who successfully participate in your waste-prevention program. Consider offering future registration discounts or other awards to top-performing vendors.
- Thank your vendors, staff, and volunteers (by email, if possible!) for their help after the event. Let them know how much waste was prevented or diverted to recycling by their efforts.
Questions for your hauler
- How many garbage and recycling carts, bins, and dumpsters will your event require?
- Where recycling receptacles should be placed around the event area?
- Will the hauler commit to providing the data you need to fill out the Post-Event Recycling Report?
- Does the hauler collect garbage as well as compostables and recyclables, or will you need multiple service providers?
- Will recyclables be collected separately by material type, or mixed (containers and paper) together?
Encourage attendees to recycle
- Most people want to do the right thing. Make it easy for them to recycle beverage containers or to compost leftover food, and they’ll be happy to help.
- If possible, place a recycling bin next to every trash can to make recycling convenient. Select recycling and trash receptacles that are clearly different in color, shape, top opening, and other features.
- Clearly mark your recycling, compost, and trash receptacles with large, easy-to read signs—preferably in multiple languages. Include photos or drawings of the proper items for each receptacle.
- Consider using volunteers to monitor the stations and assist visitors in separating their garbage.
- Request or require recycling signage at each vendor’s booth or table.
- Highlight your waste reduction efforts in the event’s printed program. If the program has a site map, indicate the locations of recycling stations.
- Create displays and issue press releases to draw additional attention to your waste-reduction efforts.
- Make announcements over the public address system to encourage people to go to the recycling stations.
- Place recycling messages on electronic message boards.
- Post recycling successes on your event website.
Prepare to collect data
Your data collection process should allow you to:
- Track the approximate number of participants at the event, including attendees, vendors, staff, and volunteers.
- Identify the amount of recyclables that would have been disposed in landfills if there were no recycling program.
- Determine the number of pounds of each material recycled, as well as the amount of waste sent to landfills.
- Document the amount of compostable products purchased that replaced plastic products.
- Purchase thoughtfully
ResourcesRethinkWaste, “Rethink Waste and Make Your Event Earth-Friendly”, a planning guide for event organizers is available in hard copy at the RethinkWaste and member cities offices
CalRecycle: Reducing Waste at Venues and Events
California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA): VSE Recycling Council
RecycleWorks: Recycling at Special Events
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