top of page

Waste free tips for events

Territorians and visitors to the NT love getting out to the numerous markets, festivals and other events the Territory has to offer. But have you ever stopped to consider how much waste is generated at these events and where that waste ends up? 


We’ve included some of our top tips here to help event organisers reduce the amount of waste generated, but if you’re looking for a more comprehensive guide on minimising waste for events, we recommend those developed by NSW EPA and ZeroWaste SA (now Green Industries SA). 



WasteFreeNT conducted an audit of Parap Markets one Saturday morning during the Wet Season in 2018 and we discovered over a tonne of waste was produced, with more than half of this being organic waste. Markets such as this, which include stalls selling fresh produce, will typically have a much greater percentage of organic waste compared to other events and this needs to be taken into consideration when developing your waste disposal and minimisation strategy.  


Locals We Love

Malak Marketplace

Their Sustainability Principles include great ideas on reducing your local market eco-footprint. 

Seabreeze Festival 

Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival 2018 diverted 40% of waste from landfill.

4 easy tips to reduce waste at markets

Encourage the public to BYO reusable containers, cutlery and drink bottles.


Provide bubblers and/or a tap where the public can refill their own bottles. Highlight these with signage. 


Ask your stallholders not to sell bottled water.


Choose reusable or compostable packaging and engage with a local community garden that could collect your organic waste. 


Biodegradable and compostable are not the same thing!

Dive into Ceres Organics article - it's an eye opener!


Note that some items labelled as compostable may only biodegrade in the high temperatures of industrial composters. As there are currently no industrial composting facilities in the NT (we’re working on it!), we recommend using packaging that is labelled as suitable for Home Composting. The Australian Standard for home compostable plastics is AS 5810-2010, while standards for industrial compostable plastics (which usually don’t break down in home composting conditions) include AS 4736-2006 (Australia), EN 13432 (Europe/UK) and ASTM d6400 (USA).


As an event organiser, it is essential to develop a waste management plan (or operate within an existing plan provided by your venue owner) to deal with the disposal of any waste produced. For a waste-wise event, your waste management plan will need to focus on strategies to minimise waste in the first place and then to maximise the redirection of waste from landfill to compost or recycling.  


But before you dive into your waste management plan, you need to have a good idea of the kind of waste your event is likely to produce. There are two ways of doing this: 


  1. Do you have a waste audit from your previous event? If not, plan to do one (WasteFreeNT can help with this, just ask us!). An audit will give you a baseline, which can help you see how much you improve over time. 

  2. Consider what your problem areas might be based on what your stallholders will be selling (don’t forget back of house!). ​

Quick tips to minimise waste at events

Have a plan

Have a clear waste management plan which includes activities before, during and after the event.

Bin it

Plan how many bins your event requires (generally 2x240L bin per 500 people per meal time), consider the viability of separate organic waste collection. 

Make it easy

Pair general bins with recycling bins for ease of use. 

Make it accessible

Make sure bins are in high traffic areas as well as high waste generation spots eg. Close to food and drink vendors, and that their location is clearly visible. 

Map it out

Include location of bins on the event map. ​

BYO all the way

Offer incentives for patrons to BYO water bottle, cutlery, plates etc. Consider to use using the ‘Wash Against Waste’ trailer which provides reusable items and has a wash station. ​


Work with vendors to minimise single-use plastic. ​

Staying hydrated

Provide water fountains/refill stations with clear signage.  

Spread the word

Promote your event as a ‘low waste’ event through media, flyers, hashtags and MC announcements. Add information about waste reduction, recycling and disposal at the event itself through signage. 

Measure it

Conduct a waste audit after the event.

Back of house 

Provide ‘back of house’ recycling as well as organic collection for food stallholders. 

Balloons & tasting samples

Do not allow balloons, single-use plastic give-aways or packaged ‘tasting’ samples. 

bottom of page