• Last updated:
  • 29 Jun 2022

All events create waste. The goal is to work towards zero waste to landfill and leave the site clean. The key to success is having a good waste management plan. It is important to adequately budget for waste management as this can influence the success of your event.

All events should have a waste management plan but the level of detail is determined by the complexity of the event.

Remember to reduce waste at your next event by encouraging everyone to BYO water bottle, cup, cutlery and plate.

Check out the alternatives to the banned single-use plastic items[2761KB].

This guide gives you actions to help reduce waste at your event.

Easy wins

Goal: 10% reduction in waste.


  • List the types of waste that will be generated (e.g. food, beverage containers and packaging of any kind)
  • Understand what can go into the recycling, waste and composting bins
  • Eliminate the use of unnecessary items such as balloons, straws, condiments packets
  • Create bin stations in sets of two or three bins (waste, recycling, compostable) with clear signage using standardised colour coding (waste - red, recycling - yellow, and organics/food - lime green)

Engage and communicate

  • Provide clear signage as to what can go into what bin including visuals. See resources below.


  • Complete a visual waste assessment - establish a waste baseline. See resources below.

Take the challenge

Goal: 'Zero waste' event


  • Be single use plastic free by swapping out with a reusable or compostable option
  • Include in food vendor's terms and conditions around no single use plastic items
  • Encourage event participants to bring their own (BYO) reusable water bottles/cups/cutlery to the event
  • Introduce a third bin for the collection of food waste and compostable packaging

Engage and communicate

  • Communicate to all stakeholders and audience about the waste process and expectations.
  • Use volunteers to spread the word on the ground while monitoring and managing bin stations.
  • Communicate information before, during and after the event.


  • Complete a full waste audit.

Tips for success

  • Work with waste contractors and volunteers to sort through the different waste streams
  • Offer incentives such as 50 cent discount on coffee with a reusable cup
  • Provide free drinking water stations for refilling water bottles
  • Collect containers for the container refund scheme
  • Investigate reusable crockery (providing suitable wash and sanitising system), otherwise compostable or recyclable options
  • Communicate information before, during and after the event
  • Use the guide to waste calculations to assist you in measuring the waste. A full waste audit can be completed by a waste contractor


Case studies

Read about events that have taken the challenge.

Event: The annual event in 2019, more than 735 volunteers collected over 700 kg of litter from 18 coastal beach sites between North Bribie and Coolum. After the clean-up they returned to La Balsa Park in Buddina for BBQ.

Challenge: Managing waste and litter entering the local waterways. Taking a waste avoidance approach.

Solution: Waste avoidance actions were demonstrated at this event:

Sustainable catering:

  • Food suppliers (SjW Mushrooms, Bakers Delight Mooloolaba and Dicky Beach Meats) supported our plastic-free efforts by supplying their product plastic free
    • Dicky Beach Meats provided the sausages in reusable plastic containers without any disposal plastic wrapping
    • Bakers Delight bread was supplied in paper bags
  • Water bottles - free water refills were available from Unitywater's 'Back to tap' van


  • No single-use plastics were used resulting in minimal waste being generated.