Zero Waste Community Event Toolkit


Green Procurement

What comes in must go out. Remember that what your event invites onto the site needs to gosomewhere following the event. To minimize the amount of waste that needs to be landfilled, try using as many reusable, recyclable and compostable items as possible. And to minimize your event’s overall environmental “footprint,” buy recycled content when you can.

Green procurement is where you and your event organization will be able to have a great influence over the amount of waste generated onsite and diverted from your event. Green procurement involves the purchasing of products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. A green product is one that is less harmful than the next best alternative.

By making green procurement choices, and requiring the same of your vendors and exhibitors, you can have an enormous impact on the amount of materials that end up in the landfill following your event. Green procurement can also save your event organization money. The fewer materials that need to be removed from the event site, the lower your waste hauling costs will be. Buying durable and reusable goods will also save money on purchases in the long term.

Action Checklist

  • Establish a “green procurement” policy [see toolbox] to which your event planning organization, vendors & exhibitors must adhere.
  • Specify acceptable and unacceptable materials in agreements with vendors and exhibitors.
  • Know what materials your municipality and/or destination landfill, recycling and/or composting plant will accept.
  • Know and communicate the materials your waste diversion service provider will accept for recycling/composting so that event staff, vendors and exhibitors can purchase accordingly.
  • Consider making “green” purchases in bulk and supplying your vendors and exhibitors directly, instead of each individually sourcing their own purchases. Vendors and exhibitors could work together to support common needs.
  • Set zero foot print policies that vendors and exhibitors must take all materials back with them when they leave.

Global Best Practice

Environmental Choice Program

Eco-labeling or environmental labeling indicates that a product meets standards of environmental soundness that are supported by extensive research into the product's impact on the environment. The Environmental Choice® Program is Environment Canada's eco-labeling program. It provides access to a list of more environmentally responsible products and services that have received the EcoLogo certification.

Learn More About This Event >>

Planet Bluegrass Festival, Telluride, CO

Organizers of this open-air music festival used 100% recycled content in paper products and soy inks. Vendors of the event were strictly mandated to only use compostable plates, utensils and cups materials. Local research identified a brewery that was willing to supply a reusable cup option for the beer tent. A local energy provider was also on board to supply renewable energy in the form of credits to the festival. Waste diversion data was tracked and 49% of the waste was either composted or recycled - a 20% increase compared to the previous year.

Learn More About This Event >>




  • Use the handy “green purchasing” checklist in our toolbox to help you make the best zero waste purchases for your event.
  • Confused about the difference between “biodegradable” and “compostable” materials? Check out our toolbox for an explanation.
  • Need help with writing a green procurement policy? Not sure what language will work in your service contract? Check out the toolbox for a great example to get you started!


Related Tools

Zero Waste Policies