Zero Waste Events
The Town of Erie requires that all Special Events practice waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting measures in order to be approved for a permit. This page has information, tools, and resources to help event organizers plan a Zero Waste event and comply with the Town’s requirements. This requirement has been in place in some of our neighboring communities for decades and the Town is confident this can be achieved by our event planners. Please feel free to email SustainableErie@erieco.gov with any additional questions or for more resources after reading through the details below.
Provide Recycle, Compost, and Landfill (Trash) Receptacles for Event
- Contract waste collection service that is sufficient to contain the waste generated by your event. See the Waste Service tab below for more information.
- Provide waste stations in convenient locations for recycle, compost, and garbage separation by event employees, vendors, and attendees.
- No standalone containers are permitted.
- See the Waste Stations tab below for more detail.
- Public (Town-maintained) litter cans throughout event area should not be relied on for use during your event.
Employ Zero Waste Purchasing Practices
- Use reusable, recyclable or compostable containers.
- View list of accepted items.
- Use compostable utensils if utensils are necessary.
- Provide condiments (e.g., sugar, ketchup, mustard, salad dressing) in bulk instead of individual packages and servings.
- Limit single-use water bottles.
- Note: Single-use bottles are already prohibited at Town-sponsored events per the Town Meeting Policy.)
- Do not use:
- Plastic bags
- Expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam™) items
- Plastic utensils, stir sticks, or straws
- Disposable decorations, including balloons
- Pre-packaged goodie bags or individually wrapped promotional items
Ensure that Zero Waste Requirements are Followed by all Vendors at Your Event
Announce Your Zero Waste Efforts in Advance of Your Event
- Encourage attendees to “pack-in, pack out” any needed materials and thank attendees for bringing their own refillable water containers, coffee mugs, cloth napkins, etc.
- Ask attendees to recycle and compost (describe available bins and sample items which belong in each bin).
Limit Handouts & Lean in to Materials Accessible Online Only
- If you do have handouts and brochures, they should be printed in a sustainable manner and then reuse, recycle, or compost the remaining copies.
- Use 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
- Print on both sides of paper.
- If documents are printed at a print shop, request soy-based inks.
Reuse Existing Signage Whenever Possible; New Signs Should Be Made with Recyclable or Reusable Materials
- Print banners or signs without dates, so they are "evergreen".
- If a sign will only be used once, print on paper if possible and recycle when finished.
- If paper will not work, the next best option is cloth instead of vinyl.
- Print signs on paper core instead of foam core. Foam core cannot be recycled.
Limit Any Promotional Items to Useful, Durable Items.
Sell Foods That Do Not Require Utensils
- Examples include sandwiches, fries, kabobs, egg rolls, etc.
Provide Waste Station Monitors
- See the Waste Stations section below for more information.
Beginning in 2022, all Town of Erie Special Events must comply with the Zero Waste Special Event Policy.
Certain events may qualify for a waiver from Zero Waste requirements if all reasonable efforts have been made to eliminate and reduce landfilled solid waste. Only organizers who have requested and received a waiver from the Town of Erie can avoid mandated participation in recycling and organic waste recycling (composting) for their event.
For more information regarding Zero Waste, please review the information found on this webpage or call the Sustainability Manager at 303-926-2880.
Remember, the less you use during your special event, the cheaper and more environmentally friendly your event becomes before it even begins.
Recycling, composting, and landfill collection services can be contracted for your event by contacting Eco-Cycle. Or contact any of the other waste service providers that operate in Erie for hauling services. NOTE: You will be responsible for managing on-site collection and minimizing contamination.
Zero Waste Event Coordinators are available to assist you, at no additional cost. Please email SustainableErie@erieco.gov in advance of your event with any questions you might have. Assistance includes:
- Establishing appropriate service levels.
- Zero Waste planning for special events.
- Education: On-site trainings and meeting, posters, and other Zero Waste swag.
Note: Special Events are eligible to use whichever recycling, composting, and landfill receptacles adhere to the Waste Station guidelines listed in the tab to the right.
Waste Collection Map
- Create a map showing the locations of the central waste collection area(s) and the locations of the waste stations for attendees.
Centralize Waste Collection
- Create a central waste collection area(s) with clearly marked bins for vendors and event staff to consolidate waste materials.
- Depending on the size of your event you may choose to have multiple consolidation locations.
- Supply all vendors with information explaining how and what to recycle and compost, all Zero Waste requirements, and a map showing the central waste collection area(s).
- Vendors who indicated needing waste containers must be equipped with all three - recycle, compost, and landfill (garbage) containers.
- Recycle, compost, and landfill containers must be placed side by side.
- Place containers in same order for each station (Example: blue, green, black).
- Place waste stations in visible, high traffic areas that do not conflict with the Fire Department’s safety ingress/egress requirements (i.e., entrances, exits, bathrooms, etc.).
- Use appropriate signage on all waste station containers. Posters can be downloaded and printed here for use or you can email SustainableErie@erieco.gov for customized digital copies for print and reuse.
- Eco-Cycle has temporary special event recycling bins available to rent for a small fee that are specifically marked and signed for commingled container collection. The bins are collapsible and will fit in a car.
Event planners should arrange to have a person monitor each waste station during the event to assist in educating attendees on what materials go in each container.
- Monitoring will minimize contamination and help reduce costs when sorting. Having a monitor will also help ensure the event is compliant with the Town’s Zero Waste Ordinance.
There are organizations and volunteer groups that can assist with monitoring waste stations (organizations such as Eco-Cycle), however it is encouraged to train your event organizers on Zero Waste practices to institutionalize the knowledge and reduce costs for current and future events.
- If you are interested in Zero Waste Training for your group, please email SustainableErie@erieco.gov to submit a request.