How to Involve Concessionaires and Vendors in Your Recycling Program
Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
On this page:
- Concessionaire Involvement and Support Is Key
- Special Considerations for Temporary Recycling Efforts
- Waste Reduction
- Recycling Coordinators Responsibilities to Concessionaires
- Feedback on the Program
The beverages, snacks, souvenirs, and pamphlets sold and distributed at public venues and special events can turn into heaps of trash. To avoid this, establish a recycling program that builds upon a synergistic relationship with concessionaires, vendors, and exhibitors.
This fact sheet is written for operations managers, recycling and event coordinators, and other key decisionmakers involved in planning and managing public venues and events. It explains the key role in recycling and waste prevention played by concessionaires, vendors, and exhibitors. This fact sheet covers venues with a permanent recycling infrastructure as well as special events that implement temporary recycling collection activities.
Concessionaire Involvement and Support Is Key
Concessionaires, vendors, and exhibitors play a key role in the success of on the go recycling efforts. Involve them early in the planning process by asking for their input and incorporating their ideas. If possible, develop contracts that require their participation in the recycling program. Note that typically vendors and exhibitors are licensed or permitted on a short-term basis, allowing operations managers or event coordinators more control to insert a recycling clause. Because concessionaires usually have longer-term, contractual relationships with facilities, more time may be required to incorporate recycling into their contracts.
If feasible, require concessionaires to sell beverages only in recyclable bottles and cans, rather than disposable cups. If they prefer to use cups, encourage the use of plastic cups, if markets exist for them. While it can be difficult to find recyclers for plastic cups, those made with #1 (PET) or #2 (HDPE) resins currently seem to be more accepted than other resins.
When the recycling program is ready to launch, send all concessionaires a letter announcing the program and describing its goals, policies, and procedures. This letter also should outline their roles and responsibilities and provide contact information for the venue or event recycling coordinator. See the Sample Letter for Concessionaires & Vendors as a guide.
Provide concessionaires with collection containers and lids, iners, and signs to make it easy for them to participate in the program. Consistent collection bins, labeling, and signage are important for public participation. The recycling coordinator should be readily accessible to address any questions, problems, or concerns on behalf of the concessionaires.
Special Considerations for Temporary Recycling Efforts
At special events, where a permanent recycling infrastructure is not in place, concessionaires and vendors will need additional support. Give them sufficient advance notice about the recycling program so they can make product stocking and transport decisions that will enhance waste reduction and recycling goals. Contact concessionaires and vendors as soon as planning for the event begins. Provide information on the recycling effort and explain their roles and responsibilities. If possible, hold a meeting with all concessionaires and vendors several months before the event to review recycling goals and procedures. See the Sample Letter for Concessionaires & Vendors as a guide.
The following suggestions can enhance participation by concessionaires and vendors at special events:
- Use event volunteers to facilitate vendor participation. See the How to Include Volunteers in Your Special Events Recycling Program Fact Sheet for more information.
- Provide concessionaires and vendors with a list of acceptable utensils, plates, cups, and other food service items or purchase acceptable items and sell them to vendors.
- Recognize concessionaires and vendors contributions and reward their efforts.
Concessionaires and vendors can practice waste reduction at all stages of their business, from ordering their supplies to cleaning up their vending stations. They can adopt practices that reduce or avoid waste even before it is generated. Such proactive practices include:
- Buying recycled-content supplies.
- Purchasing supplies and selling products with reduced packaging.
- Handing out straws, lids, and napkins only when requested.
- Dispensing condiments from bulk containers rather than providing single-serve packets.
- Using supplies with reduced environmental impacts, such as non-toxic cleaners.
- Recycling and reusing wooden pallets.
- Using reusable containers to transport food to the event site.
- Purchasing beverage mixes in concentrated form.
- Donating leftover food to area shelters or composting where feasible.
- Utilizing washable cloth towels or spongesinstead of paper towelsto clean up behind the counter.
- Encouraging employees to come up with creative ideas to reduce waste.
Much of the waste from concessionaire activities consists of recyclable or compostable material, such as:
- Corrugated cardboard
- Plastic and glass bottles
- Aluminum cans
- Plastic cups
- Vegetative food scraps
- Biodegradable food service items (e.g., plates, utensils, straws, lids, condiment wrappers)
Concessionaires and vendors can avoid using difficult-to-recycle materials, such as:
- Waxed paper goods
- Polystyrene clamshell food containers
- Non-biodegradable food service items
- Multi-material packaging
Recycling Coordinators Responsibilities to Concessionaires
Concessionaires and vendors need the event recycling coordinator to clearly outline program goals and guidelines and motivate them to participate in the program. Recycling coordinators should provide educational materials to concessionaires that address:
- Why they should reduce, reuse, and recycle.
- Which materials can be recycled.
- Which bins, containers, signs, or other materials will be supplied.
- Where recycling bins will be placed.
- When and how often bins will be emptied.
- Who will be responsible for emptying the bins.
- What contamination is and how to avoid it.
Coordinators should encourage concessionaires to educate their staff. Everyone working at the venue or event should know the components and benefits of the recycling program to ensure a successful collection effort. They can reward concessionaires and vendors for their participation by:
- Providing This Vendor Recycles signs or plaques.
- Publicizing program progress and accomplishments, including the amount of material recycled.
- Developing concessionaire and vendor competitions to recycle the most material or reduce the most packaging.
Feedback on the Program
To ensure success, regularly solicit concessionaire feedback to assess the program and address future modifications. Discussion topics for concessionaires could include:
- Was it convenient for you and your customers to recycle?
- Did you have enough bins and collection locations for your recyclables?
- Were the bins emptied efficiently and frequently?
- Did you receive adequate information on the recycling program?
- How did your employees and customers respond to the recycling program?
- What would you do to improve the recycling program?
- What would have made recycling easier?
- Did you know whom to contact with any questions or problems?