Written by daniel

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

Do you need to deploy an efficient waste segregation system for the organization of your next event or within your tourism company? Follow these four key steps to successfully choose and implement waste containers.


In the waste sector, there are nothing more emblematic than a bin, a container. It’s one of those rare objects that you both constantly use and tend to forget it exists… until you can’t find one when you need it. Waste containers have crucial roles : they prevent litter or “wild waste” with cleanliness and environmental benefits, they ensure sorting system creating a second life to materials, and more generally they are the basis for any waste collecting system.

1. Analyse the local context

To adopt efficient waste containers, it’s crutial to understand your local context to adapt and make the best out of it: 

What are the local policies and regulations? You have to comply with (environmental, health, safety, etc.)? Have you reached the local authorities to get information of their waste collection services, and whether you have to coordinate with them directly or with private operators?  Is the territory you are working in equiped in term infrastructures – to give, recycle and recover your different waste streams? 

Who are the players? Which actors are in charge of the waste management in your local area? How can you work with them to raise awareness, collect and manage waste and at what cost? Are there companies, local NGOs or social enterprises you can collaborate with? Provided that you already work with suppliers did you took time to ask them about which eco-friendly services and products they might supply?

What are the resources? You can rely on: could you borrow containers from companies or the local authorities? Is there a dedicated waste management team amongst the employees or volunteers of your organisation?

Where are the features of your localisation and setting? Are there stairs? Waste premises? Where are the road accesses? Are there backroads to facilitate the discharge of waste?

2. Set up an action plan

Based on the data received from your “waste audit” (refer to step 2), define the priorities and transform decisions into concrete actions:

Define the waste stream(s) you will collect and how you will segregate them.

Anticipate the volume that will be produced for each waste stream taking into account thanks to:

  • Feedback from the previous year,
  • Forecast of your waste reduction steps,
  • Variabilities analysis: attendance, seasonality…?

Define who will be the responsibles for the diverse waste missions, and at what frequency waste can and should be collected based on exchanges with your teams and contractors.

3. Choose containers

Waste containers can be described through many features, select amongst them those which are most relevant to your local setting and activities, and prioritize them.

In a nutshell, waste containers should be secure, cost-efficient, visible, easy-to-use and understand, clean/attractive, and practical for both visitors and waste professionals. 

Favor visitors sorting habits:

  • Easily spotted: be seen at a distance, especially when there are crows
  • Clear sorting instructions: no doubts on where each type of waste must go (infographies or pictures, entry point shaped, etc.)
  • Convey a message: raise awareness on waste, its impacts or how it is valorized
  • Esthetic or fun design:  at minimum to have clean bins, which could also draw attention (colour, drawing,…)
  • Usable by all: including cripple, disabled people, children or the elder (example: limited height, mechanism to help opening,…)
  • Interactive: especially with the help of digital tools or games (nudges)
  • Rewarding and educational: must strike the user by valorising his gesture

Adapt to the local setting and resources:

  • Have its designed location:  easy to store, based on the available spaces, and adapted to the other infrastructures surroundings, such as bench, road or public lighting
  • Safe: such as taking into account children or the kitchen locations, with hygiene rules. Being easy to clean and cleaning-products resistant,
  • Allows information exchange: open the dialogue between the user and the
  • ResilientAdapt to pressure such as wind, flooding, staying stable despite lateral force pressure.
  • Affordable : based on its manufacturing cost (upcycling a bin can be useful to optimise limited financial resources and reducing waste) and its lifespan (better if it last several years to be reused)
  • Compliance with local regulations : especially security and anti terrorism standards (often to be transparent / see-through)

Improve the waste management performance

  • Right size: adapt you bin for the volumes expected. Not too big, and especially not too small with risks of being overloaded
  • Optimize storage: by including mechanisms to minimise empty space (e.g. stack up and press on), or to adapt the collection frequency (e.g. captors in the bin, to monitor the waste filling rate)
  • Accessible: No difficulties to set up in term of access, strengh and time management, to be installed or to change bags ;
  • Modular: possible to adjust the number of trash entries to be collected, based on the different stream you want to manage or recover.
  • Mobile: Easy to move during usage, especially with wheels
  • Rain protection system : must not be damaged in contact with water, especially to protect recyclable waste such as pape

*This list of characteristics was partly inspired from REEVE’s checklist (in French)


For example, in New Zealand, Method Recycling focused its design expertise on creating efficient and intuitive waste container solutions to optimize the collect and sorting processes for offices and co-working spaces.

See our collaborative database: click here
Suggest new ones: click here

4. Put in place

Last but not least, you should define a location and a human/technical maintenance system. The bin itself won’t solve everything. If badly located people won’t use it, or it will be badly managed, and waste won’t be collected. Think about the bigger picture, and in a holistic manner. Sometimes, waste collection can be difficult, especially in natural environment, such as mountains or inaccessible beaches.

In France, the French National Park les Calanques, near Marseille, has even taken away the bins! With Gestes Propre, they raise awareness of visitors about the environmental vulnerability of the area by expressing to the 2 millions visitor to “keep your waste and sort it”.

Congratulations: it looks like you’re now ready ! 😀

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

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