Resource Futures’ Ed Cook took part in talks at Green Events & Innovations on 5th March, providing music event organisers invaluable information about waste management at outdoor events and festivals.
The event, which took place as part of the International Live Music Conference in London, focused on communication, social impact and sustainable behaviour, and was hosted at the Royal Garden Hotel, London.
Amongst a packed line-up to showcase the latest actions and top case studies from events around the world, Ed spoke about ‘Understanding Waste at Events’ during the morning, alongside speakers from Glastonbury Festival, FareShare Southwest and A Greener Festival.
Ed’s presentation focused on the waste hierarchy and waste regulation, examining some of the spurious claims made by waste management contractors to event organisers. He also addressed the myth of the ‘fairy-tale waste treatment facility’ by highlighting false claims by some companies that they will recycle 100% of waste for low prices. Ed invited delegates to question the recycling figures which have been presented to them, as misreporting can reduce the credibility of recycling in general, which, in turn, damages the efforts of responsible recycling service providers.
Claims that were debunked included: ‘All of the waste from your event will be taken to a facility which achieves a recycling rate of 99%’; ‘waste can be deposited in a single bin and will be recycled off-site’; ‘our contractor takes the material from our festival to a special treatment facility which is able to recycle 74% of the material; Last year we achieved 100% diversion from landfill’.
Ed offered delegates practical advice for critically assessing claims like these, suggesting that they carry out robust research, and look for things such as an Environmental Permit or exemption for treatment plants, descriptions of the process which the waste will undergo, and ensuring thorough checks against Waste Transfer Notes and with the Environment Agency.
He then took part in an aptly named panel session, ‘Still Getting Wasted in 2015?’. This homed in on the real challenges of waste in terms of events, with Ed being grilled on questions around the main problem areas for waste in the events sector.
After being asked about the possibility of income being generated from waste and whether there is money to be made from materials segregated at events, Ed commented: “No, because the material is often not in a good enough state to attract money but savings can be made from diversion from landfill. The biggest wins would be through waste prevention like re-useable cups, plates and cutlery, and banning bottled water sales through the provision of free tap water”.
This presentation was part of Resource Futures’ project for Bristol 2015 on their work for increasing resource sustainability for events, in which Ed has extensively researched comprehensive guides for Bristol 2015 participants. These aim to ensure small events, indoor events and outdoor events and festivals can be greener in areas such as planning audience travel, managing waste, managing water and power and measuring success.
Resource Futures is no stranger to delivering sustainability at events. The company supported LOCOg in planning and reviewing the waste management programme at London 2012. This work helped the last Olympics to be the greenest ever according to the independent Commission of Sustainable London 2012.