Do you plan on reducing plastic use at your events?

We’re all being urged to reduce our use of disposables. On an individual basis that’s fine, but it strikes me as an especially huge challenge for event organisers. Can you really ask attendees to bring along their own reusable cups, plates and cutlery?

How can big events like @Music_Festivals avoid sending so much waste to landfill, where even “greener options” don’t have the required oxygen to break down?

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As a bar provider, we operate a reusable cup scheme that has proven to be a great success at the events we operate at. More info can be found at our website: - www.refreshwest.com Additionally, we’ve contributed to RAW Foundation’s Plastic Free Festival Guide!
RAW Foundation is dedicated to eradicating
plastics across the world. As part of this
mission they are working with the UK Festival
sector to reduce single-use plastics.
To download the guide for free, please follow this URL link: http://rawfoundation.org/making-waves/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Festival-Guide-20182.pdf

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I often hire glassware and crockery rather than using disposables. It is generally pretty cost effective.

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This is great. Thanks so much for sharing. I was reading up on the reusable cup scheme you operate at Shambala. I am interested to know how the festivalgoers get the cup washed between uses? Do they do it at the bar if you hand over a dirty cup or are there washing points?
http://www.shambalafestival.org/essential-info/sustainability/shambalas-bring-cup-campaign/

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What kind of events have you done this for? I can see it working for networking, dinners and smaller parties, but think it would be challenging for outdoor events where you have food vendors etc.?

Yes admittedly I have only tried this for indoor, business events. For outdoor events, biodegradable plates and cutlery might be an option. Check out these biodegradable wine glasses! https://www.pipii.co.uk/eco-biodegradable-wine-glasses

And there are lots of options at Vegware https://www.vegware.com/

I was at a festival last year where everyone was given a plastic pint glass and you would swap it for a clean one at the bar every time you wanted a drink. At the end of the festival, you could hand your plastic pint glass in and get a glass one with special artwork that could be kept as a memento. If a biodegradable pint glass was used instead of plastic, then that could be a pretty sustainable system, especially if the returned glasses were washed and reused at other events.

Festivals usually work with a resuable cup company, and are typically provided with enough cups to serve all drinks throughout their event, with all the dirty cups being taken at the end of the event to be washed offsite. Some very large events, or those near to facilities, may install washing stations onsite or wash daily.
Audiences either pay a deposit or a non-returnable one-off charge for their first cup, and then exchange dirty cups for clean each time they purchase another drink. For example Refresh West managed a full reusable cup system for Love Saves the Day (capacity 20,000). The audience paid a one-off £1 levy for their first cup, and then exchanged dirty cups for fresh throughout the event. Signs were placed at the bars, bar-staff were trained to explain the initiative to customers, and auditing systems were put in place. The result was that many thou- sands of single-use cups were prevented from being used and discarded, making less waste and a cleaner festival site.

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These are great, but organisers still need to make sure this waste is sent to a composting site rather than landfill, otherwise it can’t biodegrade. Reuseables are definitely a better option - love the idea of the pint glass scheme you mention.

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That’s fantastic, such a good idea. I wonder if this could be done with plates and cutlery too…

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@RefreshWest can you answer this? Does it cost more to run a reusable pint glass scheme and if so, roughly how much?

They’re usually cost neutral if you decide to rent the glasses without printing a logo. If you print a festival logo then they’re pretty collectible and people often take them home (the percentage would vary though), so overall I think it would probably be a little more expensive than cheap plastic but not by much…

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I saw a novel idea for replacing plastic straws - at bbar in Victoria, London they are using pasta straws!

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We’ve just launched a reusable plate & cutlery offer to festivals to offset single use, disposable alternatives - https://www.loopyourlife.org.uk/ We’re passionate about cutting waste and resource use and we think the time has come for this option!

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This is so great Emma. I really hope organisers take this up - not only are these plates so much more environmentally friendly, they’re so much more beautiful too! How do costs stack up? I think organisers understand that being sustainable means making an investment but is the service you’re offering a ‘premium’ option?

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Thanks so much! We’re tracking our prices to compostable alternatives rather than conventional crockery hire as it’s a disposable offset that we are aiming at. We are looking at a number of different delivery models and, depending on which of those we go with and the type of event / numbers of uses then the price difference between LOOP and compostables can actually really vary but my aim would be an average of +25%. We’re also looking at a model where we hire to individual festival goers at £1/day for unlimited clean exchanges (plates/cutlery & mugs actually for this one) - essentially sharing the costs.

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Hiring to the festival goers is a really lovely idea and could actually be seen as an attractive feature, allowing them to be actively green. I would absolutely go for that initiative as a consumer.

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I read that there’s a new type of event signage/branding available made from widely recyclable polypropylene: https://standoutmagazine.co.uk/formula-e-and-csm-reveal-revolutionary-sustainable-event-branding/

Obviously it preferable to avoid plastic signage altogether, but if you can’t this is a good option. It’s preventing 35 kilometres of PVC waste at the Formula E Championships.

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Sounds incredible! I haven’t yet heard/seen this in use yet but I am sure I will soon. Sustainability is such a huge responsibility but it starts with every single person doing their part to achieve it and I am so proud that my workplace actively participates in so many initiatives, a few include offering discounts when people use keep cups at our cafes, and if not offering biodegradable coffee cups and lids, they’re also the first convention centre in the world to recycle Nespresso pods (65,000 a year).

I have three tips to help you reduce the amount of plastic used at your nextevent Management.

  1. Skip straws:
    Instead of serving beverages with a plastic straw by default, have straws available by request only.
  2. Ditch disposables:
    choose a caterer who serves on washable dishes by default.
  3. Change your chotchkes:
    consider swag items that are made from renewable materials such as wood or paper.

That’s a fantastic idea, but I have an amazing idea to reduce plastic uses during the event, we can plan a virtual event using a virtual event platform.

As it saves a lot of time compare to arrange physical events and reduces the uses such substance, and the main venue availability on desired dates.

With virtual event platforms, attendees can be present from any corner of the world and take part.