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.
We encourage event organizers to incorporate effective resource management practices for their events. By reducing, reusing, and recycling the materials generated by your event, you can:
- Help maintain a sustainable community by conserving natural resources
- Save cost by reducing the volume of materials sent to landfill
California State Law AB 2176
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.
Your agency, organization or venue must comply with the AB 2176 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
- Large venues need to comply if they are a permanent facility that seats or serves an average of more than 2,000 participants (attendees, staff, vendors, etc…) per typical day of operation.
Edible Food Recovery & Donation
Large events that either provide or allow for food to be provided must comply with the local jurisdiction’s edible food recovery requirements.
Edible Food Recovery helps eradicate food insecurity and waste and limits the effects of climate change by reducing methane gas emissions. Throughout the State of California, edible food recovery is now a mandatory program under SB 1383 for many food generators.
Donate any leftover edible food to local food banks. For more information on edible food recovery requirements or lists of local food banks please visit San Mateo County’s Office of Sustainability’s Edible Food Recovery webpage.
Top 5 List for Event Planners
- Purchase thoughtfully
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.
- 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 proper recycling and composting procedures.
- Make sure all volunteers know which materials will be recycled and composted so 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, composting and recycling carts, bins, and dumpsters will your event require and where will they be placed?
- Will the hauler commit to providing the data you need to fill out the Post-Event Recycling Report?
- Will recyclables be collected separately by material type, or mixed (containers and paper) together?
- Encourage attendees to recycle and compost
- 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 and composting bin next to every garbage can to make proper sorting convenient.
- Clearly mark your recycling, compost, and garbage receptacles with large, easy-to read signs—preferably in multiple languages. Include photos, drawings or the actual items themselves for each receptacle.
- Consider using volunteers to monitor the stations and assist visitors in separating their garbage.
- Highlight your waste reduction efforts in the event’s printed program. If the program has a site map, indicate the locations of garbage, compost and recycling stations.
- Make announcements over the public address system to encourage people to go to the waste stations.
- Post diversion 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 and compostables that would have been disposed in landfills if there were no diversion program.
- Determine the number of pounds of each material recycled, as well as the amount of waste sent to landfills.
- Document the amount of reusable or compostable products purchased that replaced plastic products.