Waste wise events

Tips for hosting a waste wise event

With any event no matter how big or how small it is important to consider waste early on in the planning process. And this isn’t just about providing appropriate bins it is about reducing the amount of waste generated from the event as well.  The following information has been prepared to assist you to host a waste wise event at UOW.

Purchasing of equipment and supplies

Reduce waste at the event and overall environmental impact by ensuring equipment and supplies purchased contain as many of the following attributes:

  • Is it made of recycled or organic materials?
  • Is it locally made?
  • Does it have minimal packaging?
  • Will it have minimal impact on the environment when used?
  • Is it good value for money in that it is of a good quality and durable?
  • Is it reusable?
  • Can be recycled?
  • Does it support health and wellbeing?

Other considerations

  • Do you actually need to purchase that piece of equipment? Can I borrow it from some other area?  Will I use it again and how often?  Can it be purchased as a shared item between groups or work areas?
  • Will you have other stallholders and vendors at your event? Is the event being hosted by an external organisation? UOW must deal with the waste that is generated at an event. To minimise the waste generated from these stallholders and vendors make them aware of your waste minimisation aims and ask they comply with similar considerations for the materials to be used at the event.   
  • Do not use balloons, as these cause significant impacts to our native animals and marine life when littered and contribute to landfill.  
  • Do not use straws and other single use plastic items or use polystyrene products (e.g. cutlery, bowls, plates,  plastic bags) as the use of these is banned in NSW.  Refer to the NSW EPA single use plastics ban for more information.
  • It is important to be aware that paper and fibre-based packaging materials (including those certified compostable under the Australian Standards) are unable to be disposed to food waste and must be disposed to landfill.   Refer to the NSW EPA information and position statement about the use of these materials.


Key things to consider with regards to catering:

  • Focus on heathy food options.
  • Purchase local produce or Australian made that are in season
  • Look for sustainable food choice labels such as sustainable seafood and Fair Trade labelled items.
  • Avoid providing bottled water.  Encourage the use of a BYO bottles and provide refill options or provide jugs and glasses (if possible). UOW has a number of water refill points within buildings and outside for BYO water bottles.
  • Minimise waste by carefully considering the amount of food purchased
  • Have a look at the Love Food Hate Waste website for catering tips and reuse and food donation options.
  • Use reusable crockery and cutlery where ever possible.
  • Provide adequate waste disposal options

The organiser of the event is responsible for providing adequate waste disposal options.

  • Staff should order bins via the Facilities Management Service Centre.  Include in your request information on the dates, location, start and finish time, numbers of each bin type and size and whether or not the bins will need to be serviced during the event.  Students organising events should contact Unilife to make the necessary arrangements.
  • Bins should be located around your site to ensure adequate coverage. Ensure bins are close to food service areas and other places close to where waste is being generated.
  • Do not place tables or displays or stalls in locations that hide or obstruct the existing bin infrastructure at UOW.
  • When siting temporary event bins ensure that you place the different bin types together.  By placing the different bin types (side by side) at each location you will reduce contamination and support correct waste disposal.
  • Foodwaste bins  can also be provided on request. Contact the Environment Unit if you would like to have foodwaste bins at your event.  Bin monitoring of compost bins is essential.  Contamination of foodwaste is not acceptable as the materials will be rejected by the contractor.  Consider connecting with the Unilife volunteering team to assist you to undertake bin monitoring.
  • Ensure that you have arrangements in place to service the bins and avoid bins that overflow during your event.
  • You must ensure the site is left tidy and free of litter at the end of your event. 
  • Please ensure the bins get emptied at the end of your event.

Promote the sustainability of your event

  • If you have made the effort for your event to be more sustainable then promote it. 
  • Prior to the event let attendees know that you have made an effort to be make the event more sustainable.  Encourage attendees to bring their own reusable items to help support your efforts to reduce waste.
  • Make announcements during the event about bin locations, recycling correctly, that you have provided sustainable food choices, water refill locations. Ensure adequate signage of bins.