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10 Steps for Improved Waste Management at UK Outdoor Events

The Towards Zero Waste Festivals Project  This Toolkit is part of an ongoing industry project led by Vision: 2025 and Julie’s Bicycle focused on improving waste management practices at festivals.

The project, called Towards Zero Waste Festivals (TZWF), was born out of the findings of Vision: 2025’s annual Event Industry Green Survey, which has consistently shown that sustainable materials and waste management is a priority for festival organisers, and a key challenge. The first step of the TZWF project was research into the challenges and opportunities in the outdoor events sector, led by Vision: 2025, Julie’s Bicycle and specialist waste consultancy, Resource Futures.

This culminated in the report: Towards Zero Waste Festivals: Overcoming Current Challenges in Sustainable Waste Management at UK Greenfield Events (March 2023).  Vision:2025 produced a second resource looking specifically at waste legislation in the UK: Festival Industry Materials and Waste Briefing: Current UK Legislation, Guidance, Greenwashing Checklist and Future Insights (April 2023).

This Toolkit provides practical step-by-step guidance and resources for those responsible for waste management at greenfield festivals.

The resources include:

  • Practical checklists to monitor and review actions being taken
  • Templates for developing policies and other documents specific to your festival
  • Tips providing guidance on specific elements of waste management.
  • External Links

There are also links to other useful reports and learning resources that exist outside of this toolkit. 

How to use it

The Toolkit is structured around 10 steps. For each step there is a description of actions and links to the relevant resources in the Toolkit.

You can refer to this Toolkit throughout the process of managing waste at your festival, using the right resources at the right times for you.

You can either use the online version of the toolkit (below on this webpage) downloading the individual resources when needed, or download the whole Toolkit as a ZIP folder with all the templates included.

The templates (e.g. Materials List Template) are designed as a starting point for creating your own festival’s specific version.


This Toolkit was funded by the Dixon Foundation.

Ongoing support from EarthPercent for the work of Vision:2025 and Julie’s Bicycle has also supported the development of the Toolkit.

The content was developed collaboratively by; Chris Johnson, Chair of Vision: 2025 and Co-Founder / Sustainability Lead at Shambala Festival; Richard Phillips, Climate Change Specialist for the Music Industry at  Julie’s Bicycle;  Livvy Drake, Sustainability and Behaviour Change Consultant and Waste Expert; and Waste Specialist, Ed Cooke. 

Vision: 2025 is a growing network of outdoor events and businesses taking climate action. They aim to establish best practice, connect events to free resources, tools and each other, on the journey toward climate-responsible events. Find out more at 

Julie’s Bicycle (JB) is a leading not-for-profit mobilising the arts and culture to take action on the climate, nature and justice crisis. Founded in 2007 to support the music industry on environmental initiatives, they have since partnered with over 2,000 organisations in the UK and internationally across the wider creative and cultural landscape. Combining cultural and environmental expertise, Julie’s Bicycle focuses on high-impact programmes and policy change to meet the climate crisis head-on. 

Livvy Drake (Sustainable Sidekicks) is a Sustainability and Behaviour Change Consultant working to reduce the barriers to pro-environmental behaviours within events, organisations and businesses through training and consultancy.

Ed Cook is employed as a Research Fellow in circular economy systems for waste plastics at the University of Leeds. This work was conducted independently and does not represent the views or opinions of the institution. Please forward any questions or suggestions to

The 10 Steps

Enter your details to download the full toolkit, or use the online version below.

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  • Appoint someone to be responsible for the waste management strategy.
  • Make sure they have the time and ability to lead the strategy, liaise with waste creators (e.g. food and drink traders), and to manage tenders and contracts.
  • If they need to upskill, create a free account on the Future Festivals Tools e-learning course and complete the Materials and Waste module (1 hour to complete). 
  • Make sure you understand legal requirements in the area you are operating.
  • Use the Materials List Template to understand what materials will be used at your event (you may need to speak to various people involved to do this).
  • Use the List to identify environmentally damaging materials to reduce or remove. 
  • You now have the information to create your Materials Policy! (see Template).
  • Speak with key decision-makers in your team about the proposed Materials Policy – to sense-check and sign it off. 
  • Share the Materials Policy with your wider team so they know which materials are banned, which you want to reduce and which can be reused or recycled (see Tips).
  • Include these requirements in contracts where appropriate.
  • If you are contracting a new waste management company, create an ‘invitation to tender’ that covers expectations around sustainable waste management. To get an accurate quote, use the Waste Management Tender Checklist.
  • Once you have selected a waste management supplier, create a contract that sets out your requirements on  maximising recycling, providing waste data, etc (see Tips for Contracts with Waste Management Companies).
  • Work with your waste management supplier to create a ‘Waste Management Plan’. Include: key targets, your Materials Policy, the people involved and their role, and any individual or supplier obligations (see Template).
  • Talk to your waste management supplier about bin types and signage (see Tips).
  • Share the Waste Management Plan with your  internal team.
  • Share your Materials Policy with all organisations working at the event who might create waste (e.g. concessions, production contractors, creative build teams etc). You can also feed this into briefing documents or contracts. 
  • Share any relevant information with festival goers in advance of the event.
  • Include detailed information for food traders about waste management. 
  • Consider communications for creative build teams (see the example from Shambala)
  • During the build, the person with responsibility for the Waste Management Plan should check that all waste generators:
    • Understand the Materials Policy 
    • Have facilities in place to comply (e.g. separate bins at trader stalls and plans for technical and creative teams).
  • Ask your waste management contractor to send a full report for the event. Refer back to the Tips for Contracts with Waste Management Companies. 
  • Gather reuse data from other contractors e.g., bars, cup hire company and production teams.
  • Arrange debrief meetings with your waste management supplier, internal team leads and key waste generators to get feedback on the success of the plan.
  • Create a summary of what went well, what didn’t and next steps.
  • Communicate with all people involved to create more engagement and build a culture around sustainable waste management.
  • Avoid making statements that could be greenwash – see the Green Claims Code Factsheet for guidance.
  • Review the data report created by your waste management contractor.
  • Highlight people or areas that create high volumes of waste as priorities for next year.
  • Make plans to reduce overall waste totals and increasing re-use and recycling.