Written by futureofwaste

This collaborative toolbox is under construction until March 2019.

This article is part of our toolbox
“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

You decided to work at reducing waste in your tourism/event organization, welcome on board! After having defined a shared purpose within your organization and conducted a waste audit, you’ll need to understand how is the waste treatment system working in your destination. Which key topics will you need to investigate? We’re sharing with you some good leads to explore. Ready to dive with us into the wonderful world of garbage? 😉


Understanding your local context will help you to:

  • Benefit from existing opportunities rather than exhausting yourselves creating new ones.
  • Strengten the local circular ecosystem by spreading the rules and bringing activities to local players.
  • Comply with existing legislation not yet expelled or fined.

1. How does local government manage waste?


You first should define which scales are relevant for your waste management. Depending from the kind of waste, your organization size and status (NGO, company), local authorities might have very differents responsibilities. Browse on the Internet what is relevant to you. Serach using the “waste management + name of your destination” keywords. Look in particular about environment, sanitation and waste collection on the websites of your municipal, regional or national authorities. Map them using for example Google MyMaps tool.

Example from a French festival:

The event is in western Europe France in a rural region called Burgundy. The waste is managed at the intercity level. The spot where the festival will be organized is an ecologically protected area under regional supervision called “Natura 2000”. Tourism and ecology are also managed at a regional level with the support of ADEME.

Infrastructures and segregation rules

Find out most recent segregation rules. They might change in the long run and they sure change from one location to another. Each location belong to a specific jurisdiction that works with specific companies and factories that do not have similar processes and technologies both for collection or treatments.

  • Make sure you can resort to public services as a professional for collections.
  • Check out where is the waste taken to: landfill, incineration, recycling plant…
  • Identify the local waste segregation rules.

Atlas Waste  is a  crowdsourcing tool free access map that visualizes municipal solid waste management data across the world for comparison and benchmarking purposes.

Example from a French festival:

Part of the organic waste is methanized after mechanical treatment at a new plant nearby. Glass and paper must be brought to voluntary waste drop-off receptacles. Other recyclable waste is collected at households. Other waste should be brought to one of the 4 recycling yards.

2. Which local laws apply?

Find out about local incentives or policies:

  • Get in touch with local authorities to benefit from the help of civil servant dedicated to raise awareness, brochures, signages and even collection bins.
  • Some countries, cities or regions have registered to networks or action plans (COP21, C40, zerowaste cities). You can remind them of their commitments when asking for help on specific waste issues
  • Some places are under specific environmental protection you must comply with.
  • Some cities or countries have implemented ecological prerequisites or bans (straws, plastic bags)

Example from a French festival:

We have to fill an environmental permission form and the local authorities provided us containers and information.

3. Any local non-profit / social entrepreneurs initiatives?

Look out for stakeholders who might be interested in providing services or sharing resources with you. Which are the different public organisations, companies, social entrepreneurs and associations who are providing innovative waste management solutions in your destination?


  • Have you heard about waste pickers? They are everywhere are circular economy most powerful and least recognized allies. Find out if there are any in the surroundings.
  • You can also search for local farms that could receive your organic waste for animal feeding or composting.
  • Check also what services big players like SUEZ can offer.
  • Emma working at sparknews tell you more on how to source social entrepreneurs:

Open database

Have a look at our Future of Waste collaborative and global database.
If you find any social and circular initiative that is not yet in our database, please add it using this form.

4. What are people’s cultural habits and beliefs?

As stated in Paul Berthet’s video, tourism and events sector brings a variety of audiences that have different habits and cultures. What could seem obvious for you can be quite new, or even weird, for others. For instance some audiences might not understand that solid plastic cups are reusable or that the waste segregation system can differ from where they live.

  • This is something you can investigate during the interviews of internal or external stakeholders. They should know about it. Specially if you’re working / volunteering in a country that is new to you, try to understand the behavior of the population concerning waste management.

Testimonial from Hopineo: “In Senegal, for example, it is not unusual to throw plastic bags on the ground, in the street, or even in its own yard, after use. Furthermore, because a lack of waste treatment, garbage dumps (when there is one) are most of the time open air, sometimes in the middle of the village. In addition of the visual and sometimes odorous unpleasantness, the major issue is sanitary. To gradually overcome this serious issue, every year, in the village of Sandicoly is organized a hygiene celebration, under the leadership of the Campement du Niombato. Thus, every year, during the month of May, the cleanest yard of the village is rewarded with a price, financed thanks to the tourist activity of the campement (see the good practice “development contribution“). Villagers are more than ever motivated, and it is every year a real spring cleanup in every yard. And so, the good habits are taken little by little all year long.”

5. What are the key local issues regarding waste?

It will be easier to mobilize your stakeholders if you put an emphasis on:

    • Health: according to the UN Habitat, locations with improper collection or disposal of waste have twice more incidents of diarrhea and six times more incidents of acute respiratory infections. Dumpsites are breeding grounds for pests and bacteria.
    • Agriculture and energy: composting organic waste can create local and eco friendly fertilizers for local farmers: check out the success story of San Francisco.
    • Energy: methanation or plastic to fuel processes can provide remote places with energy.
    • Beauty: 80% of tourists coming to Zanzibar consider not coming back to the island because it is littered with waste that mostly comes from the tourism industry.
    • Employment:  as stated by Refer on its infographics, circular economy tends to generate 10 to 500 times more jobs that linear economy. For Zazie Hotel in Paris “We had to internalize as many tasks as possible to provide employment for people in need. Our zero waste policy comes from taking advantage of this situation to have more premium services”

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This article is part of our toolbox
“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

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