2.2 Waste handling

All kinds of events generate A LOT of waste. The government’s policy requires those who pollute to pay for the handling and disposal of the waste. In many places it has become more expensive to dispose of unsorted waste than sorted waste. For industry and commerce, 1.200,- NOK per ton of unsorted waste is not an uncommon price to pay.

Implementing a system of waste sorting will reduce the amount of waste you will need to dispose of, and therefore also cut waste disposal costs. How many categories into which you should choose to separate the waste will greatly depend on the size of the event and where you can deliver it. For an event with about 10.000 visitors, it would be a good idea to separate the waste into 10 categories or more. Larger events can operate with even more categories, while smaller events should compare and consider the number of categories vs. disposal costs.

You must consider carefully where the waste separation should take place. Waste separation can easily be carried out backstage, in areas to which the audience doesn’t have access. But what about the public festival premises? Implementing waste separation here might not prove to be an easy task. Putting up waste stations and marking the bins well will make it easier for the festival visitors to contribute. You can also limit the amount of waste by prohibiting visitors from bringing glass bottles or furniture onto the festival premises.

Example from Øya

The Øya festival reduced their costs by 40% when they introduced waste separation. The festival currently separates more than 65% of their waste. And by increasing the work with reuse, the total amount of waste was reduced by 5,4 ton in 2010.

At both the Øya and the Roskilde festival, all types of glasses have been prohibited within the festival area. The festival-goers are also not allowed to buy bottles inside the area. Drinks that come in bottles are therefore put into non-breakable containers before they’re sold to the public. This gives better safety and problems with glasses breaking can be avoided. It would be a good idea to conduct a survey of how much waste the event generates.

Find the answers to the questions below, and you will be well equipped for making improvements regarding waste

  • What types of waste are produced?
  • How is the waste produced – where and by whom?
  • How is the waste handled presently, what are the routines?
  • What quantities do the different waste types represent separately?
  • What are the disposal costs for the different waste types?
  • Who is in charge of the emptying and handling of the waste?

The best way to approach the problem of waste handling is to try to generate as little waste as possible. You can do this by keeping a check on what commodities the event purchases. Good purchasing routines, treated separately in section 2.3., will safeguard against unnecessary purchases that may create a lot of left-over waste.

The goal is to:

  • generate as little waste as possible
  • avoid purchasing commodities that will result in a lot of left-over waste
  • recycle as much as possible
  • give away things others may need

Waste can be divided into the two following categories: household waste and enterprise waste. Household waste comes from private households and is the municipality’s responsibility and «property». Enterprise waste is produced in a business or enterprise, and it is up to the enterprise to decide whether it should be separated and delivered to a waste processing company.

Contact the municipality and find out how the municipal waste processing plan works. This will vary from municipality to municipality. Waste produced by events is defined as enterprise waste, which means that it can be delivered to a waste processing company.

Different types of waste demands different types of collecting and handling. In order to handle the waste correctly the right kind of equipment is needed. Entering into a partnership with a supplier of waste handling solutions would be a good idea. A total supplier will be able to assist you in drawing up a waste handling plan for the entire event. This includes: making adaptations for waste separation, delivering the right equipment, training personnel, emptying bins and containers, and transporting the waste.

Potential fractions may be:

What can this be used for? Most recycled materials can be used for a variety of new products, e.g.:

Environmental gain

  • Office paper waste
  • Cardboard from equipment packaging
  • Cardboard drinking cups
  • Cardboard drinking cartons (milk and juice cartons)

New paper, cardboard and carton for copy paper, printing paper, drawing pads and notebook covers

Recycling is less energy-demanding than producing new material, and it also helps reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. In addition, a lot of forest is spared!

  • Plastic drinking vessels
  • Plastic bottles w/deposit
  • Plastic from equipment packaging
  • Other plastic packaging

Plastic foil can be used to make Frisbees and pens, and plastic bottles can be used to make fleece sweaters

Less energy-demanding than using new raw materials, plus emission of CO2 is avoided.

Metal cans

New cans, or bicycle parts, wheel rims for cars and paper clips.

Glass – bottles w/deposit

New bottles

Glass – packaging. May also be sorted as clear and coloured glass.

Glava thermal insulation, new glass

Food waste for composting or animal fodder. Eating utensils, plates, napkins and so on.

Fractions in this category need to be sorted in relation to the contents of the waste. Materials may be suited for composting, but not fodder. Ask your waste handling supplier.

Food waste can be used as animal fodder or be composted and thus become nutritious soil which may replace fertilizers in farming.

Food waste produces greenhouse gases and pollutes the area surrounding the dump through seepage.

Hazardous waste – waste that requires special handling:

Rester av maling, lakk, lim, olje, diesel, parafin.

  • Remnants of paint, varnish, glue, oil, diesel, kerosene (remnants of dried paint also qualify as hazardous waste)
  • Thermostats, fluorescent tubes, mercury switches, thermometers, energy-saving light bulbs, batteries (mercury)
  • Impregnated and creosote-treated materials (arsenic, copper, chrome)
  • Insulation boards, cooling coils (chlorofluorocarbons)
  • Insulation glue (for glass/windows), sealing compound, condensers and paint often contain PCB
  • Asbestos sheets, gaskets, glue/sealing compound, floor covering (asbestos)
  • Pesticides, weed-killers, etc.

Some hazardous waste may be recycled, while other materials must be cleansed, neutralised or burnt.

Hazardous waste contains substances that may be harmful and poisonous to people and animals. Collected hazardous waste is properly handled and kept safely from leaking into the eco-system.

Did you know that 1 decilitre of oil is enough to pollute 100.000 litres of drinking water?

Electronic and electric waste

These items are disassembled and some of the parts recycled. Hazardous substances are isolated and metal components melted down for use in other metal products.

Wooden materials (e.g. pallets from shopping areas)


Canvas (fibre) used to protect lawn/grass

The canvas can be re-used, e.g. given to a market garden

Briefly on hazardous waste

Municipalities are responsible for providing services that specifically deal with hazardous waste. Different municipalities may have chosen different solutions: collection services, manned special waste stations (often located at the municipality’s regular dumpsite), environmental stations and «environmental buses». Contact the municipal authorities and find out where and how you can dispose of hazardous waste in your particular municipality. Mercury batteries are now prohibited, with the exception of button cell batteries. Nickel-cadmium batteries (NiCd) and rechargeable batteries (for cell phones and power tools) are also legal. Manufacturers and importers are bound by law to collect used batteries.

Deposit system

To make sure that certain types of waste are collected, you may choose to introduce a deposit system for drinking vessels and cup carriers. You may also choose to implement a deposit system for different types of food packaging, e.g. pizza boxes.

This has worked very well at the Øya festival. You avoid blocked waste bins, and it helps the clean-up process. The bottle recycling system also solves several practical challenges.

On the camp site of the Roskilde festival, they offer a money return programme for all types of glasses, even those which are normally not accepted, such as jam glass jars and broken glasses.

Equipment that might be necessary:

  • Stationary compactor for leftover waste
  • Combined compactor for paper and cardboard
  • Racks for plastic bags in which you dispose of plastic drinking vessels
  • Container solely for plastic drinking vessels (must close)
  • Racks for plastic bags in which you dispose of plastic wrapping
  • Plastic bags (preferably transparent)
  • Plastic containers with wheels for left-over waste and food waste
  • Cardboard boxes for the collection of office paper waste
  • Refrigerated container for food waste
  • Containers for other types of waste, e.g. wood, iron and furniture

For safety reasons, all mechanical equipment must be lockable.

Training of waste-gathering personnel and volunteers

Logistics in this area is very important. Everyone involved in waste handling, whether concerned with gathering or separation, must receive thorough training in waste separation and how to handle the equipment.

In order to keep your premises clean during the event, you will need a separate tidying patrol. One alternative is to enter into partnership with a local organisation or association. If you do not have the necessary waste-gathering equipment yourselves (such as trolleys, brooms and shovels), contact the municipality and ask to borrow their equipment.


The Øya festival is assisted by Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth) in the waste handling process. They help by picking up waste during the event, as well as by further handling the waste in the waste station at the rear of the festival area. In return, NU get to promote themselves and their cause ahead of, and during, the event.

Checklist for waste handling

  • Work out a waste handling plan which specifies what categories the waste is to be sorted into
  • Set concrete goals (e.g. percentage share of left-over waste and percentage share of decrease in costs)
  • Draw up written waste handling routines which describe solutions in regards to equipment and logistics
  • Make a plan for training the personnel which will be handling the waste. Make time for at least one day of training. It is extremely important that the heads of the different areas or sections of the event participate in this training!
  • Provide sufficient information for the event/festival visitors on waste sorting
  • Remember to mark all equipment well
  • Collection/handling of waste during the event
  • Documentation of quantities and costs (including presentation)

Follow-up of waste handling routines

During the event, one person must be in charge of following up the routines.

  • Are the waste bins being emptied often enough?
  • Is the waste separation system working?

If the system isn’t working properly then the person in charge must make the necessary adjustments.

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