Wednesday, October 10, 2012

5 Step Waste Management Plan for Events

In case you weren't able to attend Amy Spatrisano's presentation at IMEX America about strategies for waste management at events, I thought I would summarize the key elements so you can begin formulating your own waste management plans.

She recommended a five step approach to dealing with conference waste:

Step 1:  Avoid waste
Step 2:  Set a goal
Step 3:  Make a plan
Step 4:  Verify Practices
Step 4:  Write and talk about it

Let's take a closer look at "Step 3: Make a plan."

Start by asking the facility how they will manage the waste from your event.  How many waste streams are possible at their venue?  Do they recycle paper, cardboard, plastic, cans, glass, kitchen grease?  Are they able to compost and if so, is this front of house or back of house composting?  Will the rest go to the landfill or do they also have a donation stream.

Once you are assured they have the infrastructure to complete the tasks, there are some additional facts you will need to set up your plan.  Ask if they have staff who manage the waste inhouse AND if they have an outside provider.  You will also need to know if you need to supply staff or volunteers to assist with the process.  Find out who will be training both staff and volunteers to assist attendees with the often-confusing waste stream sorting.

Your role in this as the event organizer is also to understand how waste will be disposed of properly.  Different cities and different venues all have their own systems. Learn as much as you can about the system to help you prepare.  You may also need to be willing to support the facility with additional resources to provide the diversion rate you want.  Depending on what those resources are, this is usually a sponsorship opportunity.

After you have finalized all of the details into a written plan for your event, communicating it to everyone becomes your next move.  Who's everyone?  Meeting room cleaning crew, facility cleaning crew, general service contractor, waste hauler, catering staff, attendees, volunteers and your own staff.  Cast a wide net for success.

With all of the elements in place, you can sit back and watch it happen.  Well, realistically, you will probably won't be sitting back but instead be doing "Step 4: Verify," but that is another blog for another day!

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