As the founder of the German Green Party, Petra Kelly once said “If we don’t do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.” It is time we answered Kelly’s call to action and set into motion the necessary steps to revitalize the earth, such as, integrating a recycling program within local communities. The simple practice of generating new uses for discarded materials conserves natural resources, reduces air pollution, saves energy and downsizes landfills. For example, if everyone in the country recycled a newspaper a week thirty-six million trees a year would be saved.

There are six steps involved with setting up a recycling program for special events:

  1. Consult a waste collection service
  2. Determine what is needed
  3. Gather equipment
  4. Organize
  5. Roll out the program
  6. Maintain program

This guide will outline each of these steps in detail and how to use them to implement a successful recycling program.

Step 1: Consult a Waste Collection Service

Before introducing a program determine what type of recycling is possible for the area. Contact local businesses and find out who collects waste and recyclables in the area. When contacting the companies evaluate their customer satisfaction and collection costs, as well as, determine if neighbouring businesses are interested in sharing recycling services.

Each community has a different procedure for collecting recyclables. Find out from the waste hauler what the collection requirements are in the area including:

  • What types of materials are collected
  • How materials are separated
  • What color schemes are used
  • What types of containers are accepted
  • When are materials collected
  • How much does it cost
  • What type of areas work with the collection trucks
  • What happens when the program requirements change

Step 2: Determine What Is Needed

Determine how much and what type of waste is anticipated. Apply it to the specifications provided by the hauler and the anticipated level of traffic for the area. Together this information will provide what is needed for the recycling program to run. For example, a special event planner may require different container combinations based on the event which they are servicing. The type of recycling bin combination which will work best will depend on how often it will be emptied, the amount of staff and attendees contributing to it, possible janitorial services and the size of the area.

A great way to determine what is needed for a recycling program is by seeking the input and approval of those in the space. Applying the advice of others can encourage future program use. It can also ensure that an appropriate recycling program is selected by those who will be using it.

Step 3: Gather Recycling Equipment

Now that the specific needs of the program have been determined the equipment can be purchased. Consult a recycling bin manufacturer for program ideas and container solutions. Ensure that the bins selected are easy to use, efficient and environmentally sound.

Easy to use recycling containers should be versatile and custom designed to work with any environment. There are different bin features available which make participation in a recycling program easier such as:

  • Mountable bins for increased surface space
  • Desk side bins for increased leg room
  • Stackable containers for easy storage
  • Large wheeled or lidded containers for easy transportation

Select the container which makes the most sense for the area it will be placed in.

Containers should feature the correct combination of visual indicators and sorting mechanisms to maximize the ease in use. Use clearly marked labels, shaped deposit slots and different color options.  These tools will allow others to quickly identify what the bin is designed to collect.

Implementing plastic containers which are environmentally sound can assist a recycling program. Select containers which are 100% recyclable, made with a minimum of 35% recycled content and complimented by matching waste baskets. Containers meeting these requirements will maximize the results of a recycling program as they have green solutions built right in.

North American made containers have a reduced impact on the environment. Local products will reduce air pollution resulting from overseas shipping and toxins from foreign containers. Also, if the recycling bins are within arm’s reach they will be easier to replace or distribute in the future should new containers be needed.

Product Recommendations

Busch Systems offers an extensive line of recycling and waste container solutions. The type of bin to select for a special event will depend on how it will be used. There are two categories of use to consider when selecting recycling bins: temporary and permanent. Listed below are product recommendations for each category:

  1. Recycling containers designed for temporary use target functions which require added recycling, such as, banquets or weddings. The ‘Recycle Clear’ series is ideal for these types of temporary activities as it is lightweight, durable and custom designed to work indoor or outdoor in varying weather conditions.
  2. Permanent recycling containers are for venues hosting special events which wish to continue the use of the containers after the event is complete. The product best suited for this category is the ‘Better Than Stone’ container.  It is a cost-effective alternative to concrete bins which will not rust, dent or dirty.

These are only a few of the recycling container solutions offered at Busch. To view the complete line of equally attractive alternatives please visit:

Step 4: Organize the Recycling Program

After a container is selected it must be incorporated into a well organized recycling program. The first step is assigning a program coordinator. This should be someone who is involved with the event and interested in taking charge of the program. Once the coordinator is made aware of their responsibilities they can ensure that the recycling program is always running smoothly.

The new candidate can begin their duties by selecting where the containers should go. When deciding where bins should be placed bear in mind other containers which may be in the environment, traffic, capacity and collection. The scheduling of container collection may be the deciding factor in determining where the bins should go. Placement options may be limited depending on the size of the collection vehicle and the accessibility of the area.

Suggested Green initiatives

Once the collection of recyclable material has been arranged other green initiatives can be considered. Listed below are a few suggestions for green practices which special event coordinators can practice:

  • Advertising online
  • Using online registration and confirmation
  • Choosing local venues to reduce gas emissions resulting from travel
  • Having food service providers supply sugar, salt, pepper and cream in bulk containers
  • Planning meals using local ingredients
  • Selecting venues with linen reuse programs

Step 5: Roll Out Program

Following the development of a recycling program is the execution. In order for the program to run smoothly the end user must be educated on how it operates and understand what the goals are. Rolling out the initiative will get those sharing the space excited about the program and motivated to use it.

Contact event venues and inform them of the recycling program. This will ensure that there are no competing programs at the event and eliminate confusion for guests. Organize a meeting with all staff prior to the event. Educate the staff on how the program runs, what the goals are, who the program coordinator is and what everyone’s responsibilities are. Also, consult the event hosts and determine if recycling program information can be supplied to guests prior to the event (perhaps alongside an invitation).

Step 6: Maintain Program

Maintaining a recycling program is a critical component to ensuring its longevity and success. A large part of the upkeep process will be the responsibility of the program coordinator. They will need to constantly monitor the effectiveness of the program and find ways to improve it. The coordinator will also be responsible for keeping those in the facility enthused and new staff educated on the program procedures.

There are several ways in which a program coordinator can keep up enthusiasm at special events. For example, a record can be stored of the amount of recyclables leaving each event. Statistics can be generated on the materials recovered. These statistics can be distributed to each staff member at the beginning of each event along with an acknowledgement of a job well done. This will keep up program enthusiasm and motivate staff keep up recycling efforts at every special event.


In conclusion, the combined usage of the above six steps will enable special event coordinators to incorporate an effective recycling program. The program should work toward conserving our natural resources and safeguarding our environment. Ideally, a new recycling program will allow future generations to flourish in what we have instead of flounder in what we have left behind.