Venue RecyclingVenue Recycling

Street Fairs
Street Fairs

Street fairs and one-day special events are a great opportunity to strengthen local communities but are also an opportunity to create a large amount of waste. A lot of this waste is made up of recyclable materials. Effective municipal waste management infrastructure, both physical and legislative, must focus on recycling. This recycling infrastructure can help minimize the carbon footprint of these exciting, community-building events while also reducing waste disposal costs.

Forming partnerships between city government, event organizers, and recycling haulers is critical. Buy-in at the appropriate organizational levels, open communication, and waste management plan clarity are all essential components to implementing a successful recycling plan on the day of a small or large-scale event. Passing municipal ordinances that require recycling programs can lay a solid foundation for promoting these partnerships. Local-level recycling legislation makes it a priority for event managers to form a recycling plan for an event. Providing waste dispersion and recycling information with event permits that city government issues can be a useful way of strengthening information sharing between stakeholders. Also, the event manager and recycling hauler must be clear on the recycling guidelines for appropriate recyclable material, minimizing contamination of recyclables, and collection responsibilities.

There are many other potential partners when preparing to carry out a successful recycling plan at an event, including local and national non-profit organizations, private corporations, and other levels of government. Non-profit organizations such as Keep America Beautiful focus on consulting with organizations and governments on recycling and environmental issues. Companies like Clean Vibes, Inc. offer waste management and recycling consulting for concerts and events and implement full recycling and composting plans. Partnering across levels of government can also be very effective. Cities can work with county-level government and also harness state and federal-level legislation to help implement local programs. Awareness of these legislative precedents is essential. On the local level, civic organizations can be a good source of volunteers to help implement a recycling plan on the day of the event.

Volunteers are an essential part of successfully carrying out a recycling plan at a fair or event. They can help set up, provide guidance to the public during the event, and perform post-event recycling pick up. During the event, volunteers can be stationed at trash and recycling sites. For a one-day event, it is most likely that temporary bins will be used. It is important to always place recycling bins directly next to trash cans. Clear signage as well as putting the recycling bins in high traffic areas will help make the receptacles visible. Bins can be rented, purchased, or be disposable. There is potential flexibility in who provides them. Depending on how the event’s logistics are negotiated, bins can be provided by the city, the county, or the event’s managing organization. There is also the possibility of a beverage of event sponsor providing the bins in their name. It is important to work with individual vendors before, during, and after the event. Ensuring that vendors are recycling themselves and also promoting their customers to recycle can be an important component of an effective recycling plan.

Recycling promotion and education is also an important part of an effective plan. Schedules and maps distributed throughout the day can be used to help carry this out. Post event recycling relies on city or event coordinated volunteers or on contracted recycling haulers. These workers can be split into two teams, a team assigned to trash and a team assigned to recyclables, or each worker can have two bags, one for trash and one for recycling. It is important to demonstrate that this method of post-event clean-up will save money or, at the least, won’t significantly increase cleanup costs.