Five top tips for planning a plastic free event

By Andy MacInnes, Commercial Director, B-Loony 

Every day approximately eight million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans and recent estimates suggest that plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.

These shocking statistics sum up the scale and urgency of the plastics problem we are now facing and it is an issue which all of us – whether as individuals or businesses – need to act on now to bring about change.

Plastic Free July taking place this month, is a global movement that is working to help reduce plastic pollution. As part of the campaign, the organisers are encouraging all of us to choose to refuse single-use plastics.  In that spirit, we thought we would take a look at how the events industry and its suppliers – and that includes ourselves - can help to ensure that events avoid the use of single use plastic wherever possible.  Here are five tips to help plan for a plastic free event.

  1. Early Planning: 

Ensure the venue and your suppliers are on board right from the start.  Many venues now have sustainability policies in place but ensure that you talk to them when you first start organising dates and times about your commitment to reducing single use plastics at your event.  Think about what can be substituted out for more sustainable alternatives and ensure that all your suppliers and attendees are aware of your commitment to avoid single use plastics and can plan accordingly.

  1. Refreshments: 

 If any drinks or meals are served, make sure that plastic plates, cutlery or drinks stirrers are not used.  There are many sustainable alternatives including bamboo if you don’t want to stick to traditional china plates and metal knives and forks.

  1. Ban single use plastic water bottles

Make clear on your entry tickets that single use water bottles or plastic cups will not be permitted on site but that there will be plenty of points to refill reusable bottles.  Make water points available so that attendees and staff can fill reusable water bottles.  Make clear to suppliers and fitters that water bottles will not be permitted during set up but that they can bring their own reusable bottles.

  1. Dressing the venue
  • Signage is incredibly important at events and we do not suggest doing away with it.  However, think about how it is used and the materials used to print on.  If your signage has plastic elements within it then make sure that things like pop up banners and signs do not contain specific dates.  That way they can re-used over and over again. 
  • Balloons are often used to dress events or to signpost people to particular stands.  Balloons are not plastic – a common misconception – but are made of rubber and naturally biodegradable so can be used with confidence.  As the UK’s largest promotional balloon manufacturer and a supplier to many large events, we are continuously working to ensure that our products are sustainable and comply with the upcoming ban on single use plastics.  Balloons themselves are not caught up in the ban but the single use plastic sticks that are often used with them are.  It is these plastic sticks that are the issue and we have worked hard to find a sustainable cardboard replacement for them.  If you are using balloons as a giveaway, we have developed a sturdy cardboard balloon grip that can be substituted for plastic sticks and is eco-friendly. 
  1. Feedback

Follow up with attendees after the event and thank them for helping you with your commitment to avoid single use plastics.  Ensure that they know that by avoiding using single use plastic bottles or accepting plastic giveaways, you have saved X amount of single use plastic being thrown away.