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Special event recycling

This Event Recycles logo

State and local laws require recycling both at home and away from home. All events and gatherings must provide ways to collect recyclable clean cardboard, aluminum cans and glass or plastic bottles. Such events include fairs, festivals, concerts, sporting competitions, conventions, reunions, weddings and other gatherings outside of the home.

With a little advance planning, event organizers can arrange to collect recyclables, reduce waste, save on disposal costs and even generate income.

Event recycling toolkit

By using the how-to guides and other resources below, event planners can create a recycling program that is easy, effective and best suited to their specific event.

1. Recycling and waste reduction at your special event

This publication provides an overview of event recycling from planning to implementation.

2. Worksheet for planning and implementation

This worksheet will help organizers design an event recycling plan for collection and promotion, and to educate staff when posted in a common area.

3. Choosing an event recycling hauler

This document provides a list of questions that help planners to find a waste hauler that best suits the event’s needs.

4. Vendor tip sheet ("Special Event Vendor: We Recycle!”)

Event planners can distribute copies of this tip sheet to all vendors and inform them of which materials should be segregated for recycling and where the recyclable materials should go for collection.

5. Press release template

Planners can edit this template to promote their event's recycling details, then send it to local media outlets.

6. "This Event Recycles" sign

Event planners can make copies of this sign and distribute the copies to vendors along with the Vendor Tip Sheet. Planners should request that vendors hang a copy at the selling counter/window for customers to see. Consider laminating the signs and reusing them year after year.

7. “Landfill Waste” sign

Event planners should use this sign to label trash cans and clearly distinguish them from recycling bins. Consider laminating the signs and reusing them year after year.

Download and print recycling signs

Posting clear signs on recycling and trash containers can boost event recycling success. The image links to a page where you can download free event recycling signs.

DNR recycling signs are free to print and download. (Sample images of six DNR signs are visible.)

You can also create custom signs using a tool from The Recycling Partnership.

Event recycling and Wisconsin recycling laws

Wisconsin's recycling law and local ordinances require owners of commercial, industrial, retail and government facilities to:

  • provide adequate, separate containers for recycling;
  • regularly notify all users and occupants of the facilities about the recycling programs; and
  • provide for the collection and delivery of recyclable materials to a recycling facility.

When special events are held on or in government facilities, including parks, the governing bodies for those facilities are responsible for recycling. Local governments that allow the use of or lease their buildings and grounds for festivals or other events must provide for recycling collection either by doing it themselves or requiring the organizers of the event to recycle. If a local government wants the event organizers to be responsible for recycling, they should include recycling requirements in the permit, lease agreement or contract.