Running a Green & Sustainable Event

Whether your event is small or large, there are plenty of ways you can make it kinder on the environment. It all comes down to resources…it’s the resources we choose to use for our events that can make all the difference between having a low – or zero – impact on the environment, or a potentially large and damaging one.

So – what are some of the key aspects of parties and events where we use resources, and what are some better choices available to help us run a more sustainable event?

Catering ware

For large events this is a major issue, but even for your small house party it is really important, because a conventionally run party will leave you with bins overflowing with food waste, plastic or polystyrene catering ware, and all sorts of other food packaging (think chip packets).

For large events, this can create a huge cost for hygienic waste disposal while for the householder it can create a major backlog of rubbish for your weekly collection.

Luckily for all of us, it’s quite easy to organise catering ware for a sustainable and even a Zero-Waste event.

You have several options.

  1. Avoid disposables by providing reusable catering ware for your guests and wash it yourself
  2. Avoid disposables by asking people to bring their own re-usable items.For example, at some sustainable festivals you have to bring your own reusable coffee cup to get a coffee, or buy one on the spot. For our annual school concert & shared meal, we request all guests to BYO their own plate, cup and cutlery and take it home to wash it.
  3. Hire the Wash Against Waste truck– an awesome trailer kid that contains quality cutlery and crockery for up to 250 people, plus everything you need to wash it up
  4. Use disposables but choose 100% commercially compostable certified catering supplies made from renewable materials, and sign up for our Biopak Composting Service. Basically everything you could ever need to serve your food can be found in a commercially compostable option – check out the range here

If you’ve decided to use certified commercially compostable disposables to make yours a Zero waste event, how do you get all your traders on board?   More and more large event organisers are tackling catering waste issues right at the root – by writing into their food vendor contracts that food vendors may ONLY use certified commercially compostable catering ware to serve their dishes. This is the absolute ideal scenario because it forces the change from day one. Many vendors may feel reluctant to make a change to what they are used to using initially, but the quality of Eco-friendly catering ware is generally so high and the cost so competitive to what they are used to, that they end up being very happy.

Waste & recycling

This ties in closely with what you’ve decided to do above in terms of catering ware. If you’ve avoided disposables, then you will already have a lot less waste. The remaining waste – organic (food waste), recycling (drink bottles etc) and general waste can be sorted with the help of well labelled bins being placed at all the places your guests will be.

If you’ve ensured your vendors are only serving food and drink in certified compostable eco-disposable catering ware, you have several options for dealing with the waste. If your festival is large and enclosed, you could follow the lead of the amazing WOMADelaide world music festival held annually in Adelaide; they have their own contract with a commercial composter to compost all food waste – organic waste, plus certified commercially compostable plates, cups and cutlery. The reason they can do this is because the festival is gated and they can ensure minimal contamination of their bins with non-compostable waste.

When your event is smaller and open to the walk-in-public, its much harder to organise composting for your catering ware, because of the high risk of contamination with plastic and other non-compostable items. If your event is small enough to manage yourself, then you can sign up with the Biopak Commercial Composting Service which will allow all of your catering supplies PLUS all your food waste to be taken and commercially composted back into soil. The Biopak composting service will provide well signed bins to explain to visitors what can be composted, and as long as you can ensure people are using the bins as required, the contents can be taken away and composted back into soil.

Some catering ware items are certified home compostable – so that you could compost them yourself after use. This applies to the Biopak range of sugarcane plates and bowls, napkins and straws.

Just a tip – offer water refill stations so that people can BYO drink bottles rather than having to buy bottled drinks to stay hydrated.


Many people would not consider the use of power as an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of their events, but using GreenPower is a great way to show your attendees you care for the environment! As an added benefit, once you have GreenPowered your event you are eligible to use the GreenPower Event Logo to promote your efforts, and your event or company logo can even be featured on the GreenPower website and facebook page for all to see. Start off by estimating the energy use of your event with their handy calculator. Then you can find a provider that will GreenPower your event by putting your postcode into this page.

Decorations & signage

To begin with – ditch the balloons! Unless they are latex, they are not biodegradable. They are short lived and just create rubbish.

Living plants and veggies make perfect decorations for your natural event – so beautiful!

For large events – try to create printed signage that can be reused for future events and save it. And ban plastic bags for anyone selling things at your event – insist on either no packaging or paper bags.

There are many more ways to make your event more eco-friendly and more are being dreamed up all the time – share with us your favourite ways to run a more sustainable event!