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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.

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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.

View and print this fact sheet (PDF) (4 pp, 113K, about PDF).

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.

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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:

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Waste Reduction

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:

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Much of the waste from concessionaire activities consists of recyclable or compostable material, such as:

Concessionaires and vendors can avoid using difficult-to-recycle materials, such as:

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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:

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:

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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:

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