Sustainable Event Guidelines

Creating sustainable events

The City aspires to achieving or exceeding minimum sustainability standards for events and we ask that all events - large, medium or small - in Cockburn support this.

There are a broad range of sustainable practices that you can apply to your event to reduce its impact on the planet. You can choose sustainable products and suppliers, and reduce energy, water and waste. Every act of sustainability, no matter how big or small, contributes towards creating a healthy & environmentally friendly event.

We hope this guideline and checklist provides you with some helpful tips, suggestions and resources to assist you to move towards sustainability.

Event planning

If you make sustainable decisions in planning, you’re likely to have sustainable outcomes when running your event. Tips for planning a sustainable event include:
  • Allocate a software or website for all your event staff to view and access important documents to minimise paper waste (e.g. Dropbox, Google Docs and Trello)
  • Carpool to your event site and meetings
  • Keep printing to a minimum
  • Recycle all packaging and paper
  • Set up measurement and evaluation systems for your event
  • Consider a sustainable venue checklist
  • Research your products, services and venue options carefully.

Water management

Water is one of the most delicate natural resources we have. There are a range of strategies that you can put in place to prevent water wastage at events. Tips for reducing water wastage at events include:
  • Turn off water taps whenever not in use or not needed
  • Hire water wise toilet facilities (timer taps, composting toilets, waterless urinals, etc.)
  • Use environmentally safe cleaning products and services to prevent contamination
  • Ensure that no waste water is discharged from hire equipment into drains or outdoor event sites
  • Provide signs encouraging patrons to conserve water
  • Investigate alternatives to using potable (drinking) water for toilets
  • Provide free water stations for patrons and encourage them to bring reusable bottles.

Waste prevention

If you can prevent waste being created then the task and cost of waste management and disposal becomes easier. This is also an area where you can save money by avoiding the purchase of unnecessary disposable items. Tips to prevent the creation of waste include:
  • Create a ‘plastic free’ event, where no ‘single-use’ disposable plastic bags, cups, plates or cutlery are used. This may involve working with food vendors to identify alternatives
  • Aim to use up-cycled, recycled and reusable materials
  • Promote the event to patrons and participants as a waste-free or plastic-free event
  • Provide free water stations and encourage patrons to bring reusable water bottles
  • Do not give away or release balloons. Ensure any vendors or stallholders are aware of this requirement
  • If considering fireworks at your event, investigate other options such as a laser light displays to reduce waste, pollution and environmental impacts
  • Avoid creating ‘gift packs’ or conference bags
  • Minimise printed marketing materials – instead opt for online marketing where effective
  • Ensure any event suppliers understand that your event is waste and/or plastic free.

Waste management and disposal

Less waste goes to landfill if compostable, recyclable and reusable items are separated and disposed of properly. Wastewise events reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gas emissions being released into our environment.

Waste management tips

  • Ensure there are adequate recycling and general waste bins around your event. You can hire bins from the City of Cockburn by contacting or calling 08 9411 3444.
  • If significant volumes of food waste are being created, consider composting options. If you hire bins from the City of Cockburn, food waste can be placed in the general waste bin as this is sent to a composting facility
  • Clearly label bins indicating which ones can be used for compostable/general waste and recyclable waste. The City has bin wraps to support clear waste signage for events. Please contact the City’s Waste Education Officer to use one of these wraps
  • Ask volunteers to actively monitor bin stations and help properly separate waste
  • Make sure the waste contractor who is responsible for disposal of your event waste is aware of your waste disposal requirements
  • Collect litter as soon as possible to prevent windblown litter escaping the event site.


Create a comprehensive list of the products and services that you will need for your event at planning stage. This will help you make good procurement choices and avoid unnecessary costs.

Sustainable purchasing tips

  • Consider hiring, borrowing or reusing as first options
  • Use sustainable packaging that can be recycled or is compostable
  • Do not use harmful or flammable chemicals
  • Consider verifiable eco-labels and certified products and services
  • Use environmentally friendly companies and caterers
  • If printed material is required, opt for recycled paper and vegetable based inks
  • Consider using local suppliers with knowledge of the City to support your local economy and reduce your carbon miles
  • Consider using social enterprises and Indigenous businesses to provide products and services to your event.

Energy and emissions

When planning your event, consider options for minimising the amount of energy consumed.

Energy and emissions tips

  • Minimise the use of electrical equipment
  • Choose energy efficient sound, lighting and technical equipment options where possible.
  • Encourage public transport for patrons
  • Consider limiting air conditioning during the set up and pack down of the event, by using natural ventilation where possible
  • Consider sustainable decorations (solar, energy efficient, recycled etc.)
  • Calculate carbon emissions produced by the event and offset through an accredited offsets provider
  • Consider renewable energy options for generators and electrical equipment (solar lights, biogas generators etc.)
  • Purchase 100% renewable energy for your event if possible.


Items, patrons and performers need transport to and from events, but it is possible to reduce emissions and fuel use.

TravelSmart tips

  • Walk or ride to and from the office and event site
  • Plan your journey by public transport
  • Supply bike racks and create clearly designated sustainable transport areas
  • Communicate sustainable transport options and develop incentives or marketing campaigns for patrons who walk, cycle, use public transport or carpool
  • Create designated parking on event grounds to facilitate the number of people attending the event
  • Consider purchasing carbon neutral ticket options for flights for event speakers / performers and attendees
  • Consider working with suppliers who have a carbon neutral or sustainability policy. 

Education and awareness

A major benefit of running a sustainable event is being able to promote your sustainable behaviours to the public. You can promote yourself as a responsible corporate citizen and raise awareness of positive sustainability messages in the community.

Education tips

  • Actively promote your initiatives to patrons prior, during and after the event
  • Encourage patrons to engage in your sustainability initiatives by bringing their own cups, water bottles and food containers, recycling their waste and taking sustainable transport to and from events
  • Remember to communicate and celebrate your achievements. Use social media, announcements, emails and websites
  • Use event signage to bring attention to your initiatives
  • Use your sustainability initiatives to strengthen grant applications
  • Apply for A Greener Festival award.

Event evaluation

Evaluating your event can be critical for improving future events and ensuring your sustainability practices are effective.

Evaluation tips

  • Review usage statistics for water, energy / emissions, waste and transportation
  • Record volumes for waste and recycling if possible
  • Record average contamination rates in bins
  • Determine whether adequate bins were provided or whether more / less bins would be required for next (similar) event
  • Consider other measures you might take to improve outcomes for your next event
  • Use online evaluation forms and surveys to reduce paper waste.

International certification

The international standard in event sustainability outlines a range of management and policy approaches you must apply if you wish to have your business certified for sustainable event management. It is a rigorous process and requires external auditing, and the City would only suggest undertaking it if you have sufficient resources and manage major events as part of your core business.

Find out more information at:
Guide to ISO 20121
Sustainable Event Alliance
Sustainable events resources

More information and contact

Please contact the Sustainability Officer on 08 9411 3444 or at
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9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

Po Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

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