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Helping Create Litter Free Events

There are an increasing number of outside events now taking place in the UK, ranging from music festivals through to country shows and sports tournaments. At many of these food and alcohol are often purchased in large amounts by the thousands of people who attend, creating an equally large amount of associated waste. Often attendees are more concerned with getting round an event to see as much as they can, and disposing of their litter is a secondary consideration. What steps can event organisers take to keep their site as free from waste as possible?

Health and Safety

There are now many standards that events must implement to receive licensing from the relevant authorities. The Health and Safety executive operates a strict policy towards waste management on sites, as litter and debris can pose a number of risks. Accumulations of rubbish can block important exit routes, which could be incredibly dangerous in the event of an emergency, and on hot days certain types of litter can become a fire hazard. There has to be a waste management strategy in place to deal with the potentially harmful build up of litter, which both protects workers from dangerous diseases and bacteria that can thrive in discarded food and drink, and also protects the public from collection vehicles driving around the site.


The more environmentally minded amongst the modern festival audience are clearly aware that the amount of litter created by these parties can be problematic. A recent survey conducted by A Greener Festival found that 71% of festival visitors felt that the build up of waste is spoiling many events, with 81% of the same cross-section claiming that they would use separated bins for different materials. 51% stated that food outlets at festivals should use re-usable eating utensils, much like restaurants and cafés, which we believe would be a little impractical, however biodegradable wooden knives, forks and spoons that have been created from sustainable materials were suggested by those surveyed as a viable alternative.

Sports Events

Sports events create a different kind of litter management scenario, as it can be difficult to place bins and other litter collection facilities in seating and standing areas without impeding the flow of crowd movement. It is therefore advisable that bins are placed around the entrances and the exits to such areas with clear signposting. If the event consists of many rounds, such as a race day or sports tournament with several matches, then it is possible to implement a system where the crowd are cleared from the communal viewing areas after each match or round, allowing litter collectors time to refresh the area and keep it in good condition for subsequent crowds. In large sporting events it is possible to similarly take advantage of any breaks, such as half time in an important football match, where a large number of litter pickers can be sent out to quickly reduce the amount of on-site waste.

The Biggest Problem

Without question drinks containers pose the greatest challenge to any event’s waste management strategy. As people like to carry plastic glasses and bottles into crowds and congregational areas and then discard them when empty, it can be extremely problematic for patrols or litter pickers to cope with the huge amount of litter this creates in areas where people like to congregate. All walkways should also have bins at regular intervals for drinks containers. At most types of events there is usually some kind of public address system – it can be useful to make frequent announcements reminding people to dispose of their litter properly as well as alerting them to the location of the bins.


The most useful tool in preventing event sites from becoming overrun with litter is a system that involves lots of clearly marked litter bins, together with a regular rubbish removal schedule and litter patrols armed with litter pickers and waste collection sack hoops! The arrangement and concentration of bins should be worked out in accordance with the crowd control strategy. For instance, it makes sense for an event to put larger amounts of bins around the entrances and exits to food stall and eating areas, as well as creating specially designated litter collection hot spots throughout congregational areas.

Waste Management Companies

Where there's muck, there's brass, the old saying goes, and apparently this is true even of event waste. There are now a number of companies who've sprung up in the last decade or so that are able to take care of event waste, offering total solutions where they can keep an event site free from waste for the duration of the event. These services often include teams of people who are tasked with collecting random litter on the site, together with eye-catching bins that are regularly emptied and the contents sorted for recyclable materials, which can be sold on as part of the arrangement.

A Final Sweep

At the end of any event there is usually a mass clean up required especially around areas where crowds have congregated and walkways. This is often performed by a third party company who’re brought in to ensure that the entire site is cleared of all rubbish, waste bags and discarded drink and food containers. This can take quite a substantial amount of time and money, which can be saved with the right kind of waste management strategy. Once the site has been returned to its litter free condition, it can be used again for subsequent events.

Photograph of Lee

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