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Guidelines for Organising Environmentally Friendly Events

These guidelines set out the minimum requirements and recommendations for the organisation of environmentally friendly events.

The guidelines rely on the environmental strategy of the Tartu 2024 Foundation and are an important step in its implementation.

The guidelines have been prepared in cooperation with the Tartu 2024 Foundation, the city of Tartu, and Acento, a consultation company for sustainable events.

The guidelines were updated on the 26th of February 2024.

1. Materials and Purchases

Minimum requirements

1. Event badges, wristbands, labels, and other printed materials (both their design and selection) have to be reusable. Make the return of the items convenient and clear to the visitors.

2. Single-use items, except for food, shall not be given out as gifts or souvenirs.

3. The items necessary for carrying out the event (e.g., decorations, furnishings, etc.) have to be reusable.

Recommendations

  1. Replace paper materials (invitations, publications, etc.) with electronic alternatives as much as possible. If possible, produce/order printed materials in an environmentally friendly way (with the FSC label, Nordic Swan Ecolabel), by opting for recycled printing paper.
  2. Give out as few gifts and souvenirs as possible. If possible, ask the recipients if they even wish to receive gifts. If giving out gifts and souvenirs, prefer green services and donations/contributions. As regards physical gifts, opt for local food and practical items manufactured from environmentally friendly materials.
  3. Avoid excessive ordering of and over-packaging goods, gifts, and other items. Estimate the quantities as accurately as possible to ensure a minimum amount of surplus. Cooperate with other organisers of simultaneous events to optimise the packaging of the items and to reduce the need for transportation.

2. Catering and Water Use

Minimum requirements

1. Always use reusable tableware, cutlery, and serving solutions.

2. The use of single-use drinking straws, beverage stirrers (incl. wooden ones), and cocktail decorations are not allowed.

3. When selecting the food and caterers (incl. the catering service), make sure that at least one of the main dish options served is 100% vegan. The events centred on food have to include at least a couple of caterers serving vegan meals.

4. The use for leftover food has to be ensured. It can be donated or given to the organisers or clients, preferably in reusable containers. It is not permitted to throw away edible food.

Recommendations

  1. Allow participants to bring their own reusable water bottles and tableware. Provide the opportunity to rinse the dishes at the event.
  2. With the event organizer’s approval, the caterer may use their own tableware.
  3. Enable access to free and clean tap water. Place water stations near catering areas.
  4. If possible, avoid serving bottled water (and other bottled beverages). Provide the opportunity to refill reusable water bottles.
  5. Fill drinking glasses according to the needs of the visitors. Do not fill the glasses without the request of the visitors.
  6. Ask the caterer to list the vegan main dish first on the menu.
  7. Prefer caterers who offer dishes made from seasonal and organic ingredients.
  8. Prefer fair trade coffee, tea, sugar, and other food products and beverages.
  9. If possible, prefer caterers who use green energy.

3. Waste Management

Minimum requirements

1. The obligation to collect waste by type has to be arranged for the participants, organisers, and vendors of the event. You can find the design files for the labels here.

2. The types of waste the visitors have to collect depend on the nature of the event. Packaging (if generated at the event), biowaste, deposit-subjected packaging, and mixed waste must definitely be collected separately.

3. The following colours are used to mark waste containers at the event:

  • glass packaging – green
  • biowaste – brown
  • mixed packaging – yellow
  • mixed waste – black
  • paper and cardboard – blue
  • deposit-subjected packaging – green
  • hazardous waste – red
  • liquid waste (incl. cooking oil) – some other colour

4. Separately collected waste (mixed packaging, biowaste, deposit-subjected packaging, etc.) must be handed over to the waste handler according to type. A report on the weight and recycling rate of the waste collected shall also be asked for from the handler. In the case of mixed waste, ask for a report on the weight and disposal methods of the waste collected. In the case of smaller events, the organisers may take the separately collected waste to the waste station themselves

Recommendations

  1. Label the waste containers and their frames in Estonian (and, if necessary, in other languages) clearly and understandably by using the specific colours and pictograms. To this end, there are free waste container label design files available.
  2. To provide additional clarity for the visitors, you can add product samples on the containers or labels, or provide some properly sorted waste in the container as a ‘starter kit’. If using plastic bag racks for waste collection, then use transparent bags.
  3. To improve the quality of waste collection by type, the help of green ambassadors who instruct visitors in sorting waste at waste collection stations may be used.
  4. Use the Ministry of Climate’s sorting guide.

4. Transport

Minimum requirements

1. Information has to be provided to the visitors about transport options that offer an alternative to coming alone in a car. The suggestion to arrive at the event by bicycle, by using public transport, or on foot has to be added to all information and promotional materials and event descriptions.

2. The possibility to lock bicycles has to be available at the venue. If there is no such possibility, then a temporary bicycle parking area has to be created.

Recommendations

  1. If possible, then when choosing the event venue, take into account that it has to be easily accessible by public transport and bicycle. If possible, organise special buses or trains.
  2. Include the suggested route number(s) and closest stops to the public transport information.
  3. Promote carpooling. For example, sell tickets to some of the events on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis, i.e., one ticket per vehicle, regardless of the number of passengers.
  4. We do not recommend compensating and neutralising the environmental impact from transport, as there are very few solutions that really work in this way and they are also very expensive. If you wish, then you can support local environmental organisations that preserve valuable ecological communities, such as the Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF) and the Koosloodus Foundation in Estonia.

5. Energy and Resource Efficiency

Minimum requirements

1. Adjust the energy consumption. In the case of events lasting for several days, the use of electricity outside the event hours at the venue should be reduced to a minimum in a way that does not prevent the event from taking place.

2. If the venue allows, prefer using permanent electricity solutions.

3. Avoid wasting resources. The organiser must ensure that there is no resource loss during and after the event.

Recommendations

  1. Prefer using electricity from renewable sources at the event. If you are organising the event on rented premises, find out which energy solutions are being used.
  2. If ordering special transport, prefer vehicles with low CO₂ emissions (e.g., gas buses and buses that meet the Euro 6 emission standard).
  3. When selecting equipment for the event, ensure that it is as energy efficient as possible. Use electrical devices at the lowest possible capacity.
  4. Use equipment that reduces the waste of resources at the event: prefer hand-washing stations with a pump or timer, motion sensor lights, etc.

6. Taking into Account the Environment and Community

Minimum requirements

1. The location must remain in equally good condition after the event as before the event.

2. Any damage to the landscape must be rectified.

3. The owners of surrounding properties must be notified of the event at least one week in advance.

4. The use of fireworks in categories F2, F3 and F4 is forbidden

Recommendations

1. Reduce light and sound pollution from the event that may disturb the people living nearby and their pets (do not leave full lights or music on at
the venue for the whole night, etc.).

2. When organising transport and parking, make sure it disturbs local life to the minimum extent possible. Provide information about any temporary changes as soon as possible, but no later than one week in advance.

3. If possible, involve the local community in the organisation of the event by offering them voluntary work, discounted admission, opportunities for selling goods, etc.

7. Communication

Minimum requirements

1. Environmental rules and guidelines must be forwarded to the partners and vendors in writing once cooperation agreements have been signed or early enough before the event so that they could fully comply with the environmental rules and guidelines.

2. Environmental rules and guidelines must be forwarded to the visitors and made publicly available at least one week before the event.

3. Explain the environmental rules and guidelines to the visitors and partners also on site during the event.

Recommendations

1. Communicate environmentally friendly principles consistently – to the public, visitors, organising team, partners, vendors, and participants at the presentation areas. Use simple language and avoid professional vocabulary.

2. Establish clear and simple guidelines for the environmental and waste management rules that reach target groups (e.g., vendors, participants at the presentation areas, and others) in time. Environmentally friendly management rules must be reminded to the production and construction teams, vendors, and partners before, during, and after the event.

3. Raising the awareness of environmental friendliness must be supported by the public communication of the event and infographics at the event (signs, labels, etc.).

4. Prepare possible answers for criticism from the community, participants, and media (e.g., greenwashing accusations, negative attitudes towards the visitors’ additional effort).