Discover Amsterdam
Meetings and Conventions
Live, Work and Study
Meetings and Conventions
Discover Amsterdam
Meetings and Conventions
Live, Work and Study
Materials collected in nets by beachcombing for Stichting Jutters Geluk Zandvoort.
Image from Julia Kniese

Tips for Low Waste Event Planning

With climate change becoming a more important topic in every industry, there is a need for event planners to adapt their current methods to limit the environmental impact of events. A well-executed low or no-waste event is rapidly becoming the new standard. To help you navigate your way, here are several practical tips that can make your event more sustainable.

Plan Meticulously

two women meeting
Image from Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Adopting a practical and tailored waste management plan can significantly reduce the burden on overloaded landfills. To make your event more sustainable, you can minimise waste and encourage recycling and repurposing.

Familiarise yourself with local waste management systems. For example, the Netherlands uses a four-category system: plastics and drink containers/metals, paper and cardboard, organic materials (like food scraps), and general waste. ‘General waste is incinerated or sent to landfills. Recyclable materials from the other categories are diverted towards more sustainable purposes, such as recycling and composting.

Clearly communicating recycling protocols to attendees. Follow up with post-event cleanup campaigns to reinforce your commitment to responsible waste management.

Opt for Reusable Items

2G7C3TY Polyester fiber synthetic fabrics eco-friendly textile recycled recyclable plastic bottles. Reuse recycling used bottles
Image from Natalia Khimich

Investing in high-quality reusable items is an excellent way to reduce waste. Whenever possible, choose reusable marketing materials rather than single-use ones, like used at the major music conference Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE). You can also opt for compostable or edible marketing materials as an alternative to non-digital marketing.

Consider using washable, compostable or edible plates and cutlery for food and beverages to minimise single-use plastics. The TNW 2023 conference is one example of where this was implemented successfully. Encourage attendees to bring containers, thermoses or reusable water bottles before the event. During the event, provide containers for attendees who need them. You can also set up water stations to reduce reliance on single-use drink containers. By reducing disposable materials, you can significantly decrease your event's overall carbon footprint.

Eco-friendly Catering

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HOLABOXY Catering vegan food
Image from HOLABOXY Catering

When selecting caterers, choose those who are committed to sustainability. This includes selecting caterers who only use locally sourced and low-impact ingredients, such as vegan caterers, and opting for seasonal menus that minimise transportation emissions. Check the local definitions for ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan,’ as these can change based on location. For example, the Netherlands tends to use ‘vegan’ for no animal products and ‘vegetarian’ for not eating animals, but this is not the case everywhere. You can also encourage minimal packaging from suppliers while providing recyclable or compostable containers where needed.

Digitalise Event Materials

A city businessman using a mobile device to check stocks and market data. Close up shot.
Image from solarseven

Integrating digital technologies into your events reduces print reliance and allows delegates to access materials digitally throughout gatherings. You can also optimise registration processes through tools like QR codes, streamlining overall eco-friendly event management.

Advanced technologies, such as virtual design studios for venue visualisation, can eliminate the need for physical visits. Adopting hybrid or online events can reduce the necessity for extensive travelling by attendees, while immersive experiences enabled through AR or VR technologies can replace traditional displays, further minimising waste.

Waste Sorting Stations

Two recycling bins.
Image from Les Haines

Make it easy for attendees to dispose of and separate waste during your event. Setting up clearly labelled recycling, compostable material and landfill disposal stations throughout the venue helps ensure minimal waste is generated. Providing educational signage that explains each bin's purpose also encourages good sorting habits by delegates that may last after the event.

Promote Green Transportation Options

A couple on rental bikes from Yellow Bike cycle through Bosboom Toussaintstraat.
Image from Roos Trommelen Photography

Encouraging delegates to adopt more sustainable transportation methods can significantly reduce your event's carbon footprint. Incorporate greener travel tips into registration confirmation emails for how delegates can reach their destination, like travelling via trains instead of planes.

Provide information about local public transportation options for your event location, such as metro or bus, and how accessible cycling and walking are for delegates. Many locations also have programs, like the Iamsterdam City Card that offers discounts on public transit and access to local attractions. 

The Amsterdam Convention Bureau is dedicated to supporting event planners who aim to organise sustainable events. We offer seamless connections with our local partners and are ready to assist you in finding venues and suppliers that meet your event's unique requirements. Our expert guidance can help you identify the best local options for making your event less impactful on the environment.