Written by futureofwaste

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“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

You have decided to work on tackling the waste issue in your tourism/event organization? Welcome on board ! After having defined a shared purpose (step 1) and conducted a waste audit (Step 2) you’ll need to fully understand the waste management system in your local context.  Which key topics will you need to investigate ? Here are some leads to explore. Ready to dive with us into the wonderful world of garbage? 😉


Understanding your local context will help you to:

  • Comply with existing legislation, you don’t want to get fined !
  • Benefit from existing opportunities, rather than exhausting yourselves creating new ones.
  • Determine the available solutions to pick the one most adapted to your needs
  • Support the local waste ecosystem, including associations and other small actors

1. Who is responsible for what ?

Waste management is not uniform among countries, but  the World Bank mentiones that  about 70% of waste services being overseen directly by local public entities.

Of course the objective is not to turn you into a waste governance expert, but rather to help you understand who are your direct partners, and what are your own responsibilities in term of waste management, because we all have rights and duties !

Who is in charge ?

While it differs in each country, you should be able to find within your Country key documents and regulations (such as the Constitution, the Code of Environment…)

Additionally, tools such as the Atlas Waste  – free access map that visualizes municipal solid waste management data across the world for comparison and benchmarking purposes – may help

  • Check whom is responsible for waste collection and treatment : the regional authorities ? the city ? other actors ?
  • Are those services for citizens only, or also include private actors such as companies or associations ?
  • Which institutions are financing waste projects and programmes ?

Are you concerned by environmental laws ? (spoiler: yes!)

You might check it directly on your institutions’ websites (Ministries or public agencies in charge of waste, Commercial Chambers) or through newspaper and the net.

Are there specific laws linked to your own responsibilities and duties ? In most countries, one common waste management concept is the “Polluters Pays Principles” meaning that the ones polluting – producing waste – have to pay the price for the waste to be completely disposed off. as examples:

  • In the UK, you have the legal Waste Duty of Care : as a business, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that you produce, store, transport and dispose of your business waste without harming the environment
  • In France, following the Law on the energetic transition for a green growth, the “décret 5 flux” was passed in 2016, making it  cumpulsory for businesses to sort at the source paper, glass, plastic, wood and metal, and to contract with waste operators for their management . (more info)

Are there laws forbidding specific waste  ? In order to protect the environment, a large number of countries are gradually banning some products, especially single-use plastic products:

  • UNEP mentions that Africa stands out as the continent where the largest number of countries instituted a total ban on the production and use of plastic bags. Of the 25 African countries, more than half (58%) shifted into implementation between 2014 and 2017.
  • In Europe, the European Union has voted in 2018 to ban a long list of single use plastic items, which will be applied on all EU countries starting in 2021
  • Check where your country stands in term of policy : UNEP report (plastic bags countries reglementation)

2. What are your local waste specificites ?

Local waste political priorities

What is the local strategy in terms of waste management? Is there any waste reduction objective? Do the local authorities provide incentives for professionals to better manage their waste?

Identify what are the current issues and priorities of your local authorities: health, climate actions, resources preservation, energetic, employment, agriculture, tourism… ? Can you link them with waste management ? If you need support from the authorities or donors in launching your projects,show how your project can contributes to their goals and commitments: 

  • Attractivity: 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…)
  • Health: according to UN Habitat, improper collection or disposal of waste favors six times more incidents of acute respiratory infections. Dumpsites are breeding grounds for pests and bacteria.
  • Energy: methanization or plastic to fuel processes can provide alternative source of energy, especially for remove areas
  • Employment:  Circular economy tends to generate 10 to 500 times more jobs that linear economy
  • Agriculture: composting organic waste can create local and eco friendly fertilizers for local farmers: check out the success story of San Francisco.

Infrastructures and segregation rules

In term of circular economy, it is crutial to check what are the existing infrastructures, it will determine both what are your solutions and influence their costs. Based on the existing options, prefer materials you are sure they will be able to be recovered:

What are the different waste streams’ routes ?

Are infrastructures already built nearby ? Are there composting plant ? Second hand depot factories ? Waste sorting facilities ? Recycling plants ? Methanisation or other recovery plants ? Are there planned and managed landfills ?

It is also important to know what are the local segregation rules: to improve the quality of recycling, some countries request to sort differently paper and plastic. While other gather them together and will later sort them again. And some plants are not equippes (yet) to treat some type of waste.

Those rules evolve with times. As an examples, the City of Paris has extended in 2019 its sorting rules to integrate more streams, and now includes plastic packaging in its recycling processes :

Local environmental considerations

Appart from national laws, some areas are under specific environmental protection. Due to their vulnerability you must comply with specific rules. Check with local environmental agencies and authorities, especially in natural environment, such as in the mountains, close to the coast lines or natural parks. As examples: 

  • For the Burgundy Festival, it was cumpulsory to fill an environmental permission form. The local authorities provided containers and information.
  • Near Marseille’s creeks, to protect this natural area, the authorities forbidded bins, and requested all visitors to leave the area with their own waste.

3. Map stakeholders and potential partners

Now that you know who has what responsibilities, identify the stakeholders impacted by your activities, and the ones you could reach to support your projects

Check whom are the different public organisations, companies, entrepreneurs and associations who are providing innovative waste management solutions in your area ? Reach to actors whom might be interested in providing services or sharing resources with you.

  • Get in touch with local authorities to benefit from the help of civil servants dedicated to raise awareness, brochures, signages and sometimes of bin collection 
  • Reach waste operators which will be able to suggest solutions for your different waste streams, in term of collect, recycling, ccompost, energy recovery, or safe disposal…
  • Check if there are entrepreneurs in your area, and if their solutions might be relevant for your activities.
  • Partner with associations:local association might be interested to get your used items for reuse (in particular to prevent food waste). They are also great partners for sensibilisation and educational activities
  • Check with surrounding companies and organisations: especially if you have a small amount of waste yourself, you could combine your waste together to improve its recovery and decrease its associated costs
  • Reach to the similar organisations in the area ? maybe you could share, lend some of your materials, such as furnitures ?
  • Appart from your direct waste partners, ensure you take into consideration the event or activities’ stakeholders : it can be the neigbours (ensure you waste doesn’t cause inconvenience arounds), local schools, waste pickers (are any in the surroundings.? ), local medias, farmers (organic waste),…

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?

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.

While we believe that waste is a resource, that we should promote a circulare economy, the simple idea of reusing a used packaging can be considered by others as dirty or cheap. Cought up in a culture of consumerism, waste is often discarded without consideration.

  • > Investigate to understand the behavior of the population concerning waste management. What are the waste practices ? Are there fear or aprehension linked to health, or religious belief ?

By undertanding the blocages (both for internal and external stakeholders), you will be able to gradually overpass them, through communication, leading by examples, convince of the economic benefits, nudges (behaviour incitations)… (Check our step 7 on leading changes)

Testimonial from Hopineo: “In Senegal, it is not unusual to throw plastic bags on the ground, in the street, or even in its own yard, after use. In addition of the visual and sometimes odorous unpleasantness, the major issue is sanitary. To gradually overcome this serious issue, every year, the village of Sandicoly organizes a hygiene celebration, under the leadership of the Campement du Niombato. The cleanest yard of the village is rewarded with a price, financed thanks to the tourist activity of the campement. And so, the good habits are taken little by little all year long.”

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“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

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