Skip navigation

Recycling at events

Hundreds of fairs, markets, races and block parties are held in Hennepin County each year. With all the food waste, packaging and beverage containers, a lot of waste can be generated at events of any size.

Need help greening your event?

Hennepin County has resources for event coordinators to develop waste-reduction plans, educate vendors, train volunteers and find collection options.

Open all

Portable recycling and organics recycling containers for events throughout Hennepin County

Portable recycling containers are available through a partnership between the county and the cities of Brooklyn Park and Hopkins.

Each city has collapsible recycling and organics recycling containers and recycling and organics recycling banners that can be borrowed for events throughout Hennepin County. Containers are available for free, although a damage deposit is required. Transport and proper disposal of materials collected is not included.

Please visit their websites for more details:

Recycling, organics recycling, and trash containers for events in Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis has recycling, organics recycling, and trash containers that can be rented for events in Minneapolis. The rental fee includes delivery of carts and pick up and proper disposal of materials collected.

Learn more about Minneapolis event recycling container rental.

A lot of waste can be generated at events of any size, but with careful planning you can make your event low- or no-waste. The following tips will help you get started.

See the tips below and our green events checklist (PDF) (for larger events) or green parties checklist (PDF) (for smaller events).

Before the event

Planning for waste reduction and recycling

  1. Determine who will coordinate and implement the recycling efforts.
  2. Evaluate all the materials that will be at the event (e.g., packaging, giveaways, decorations, banners), and try to eliminate as many disposable materials as possible.
  3. Assess the waste that will be generated to identify recycling opportunities.
  4. If food makes up a significant portion of the waste generated, consider donating food or collecting food scraps for composting. Local vendors of compostable products (PDF).
  5. Determine the number of collection containers needed. Limit the number of recycling/waste stations to allow for ease of monitoring. Place larger stations in areas where high volumes of waste will be generated.

Consider city-specific requirements

Take into account city-specific requirements: Minneapolis and St. Louis Park have ordinances that require single-use food packaging, including packaging used at events, to be recyclable or compostable. Learn more about the Minneapolis Green to Go environmentally acceptable packaging ordinance and St. Louis Park’s zero waste packaging ordinance. These ordinances require that recyclable materials be recycled and compostable materials be composted, so be sure to plan for appropriate collection for your event. The ordinance requirements do not apply to pre-packaged foods.

If your event is being held in Minneapolis, avoid using bottled water by getting water dispensers from the City of Minneapolis' Public Works Department. Dispensers are available for certain large events, such as races and festivals. For more information, visit Tap Minneapolis.

Additional considerations

Use solar energy to power your event by renting the solar power trailer from the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society or mobile solar equipment from Rent Solar.

Include information about transit and biking options to get to the event. Also encourage attendees to carpool.

Communication and education

Inform vendors of waste-diversion efforts as early as possible to ensure they have adequate time to prepare for the event. To get started, use our customizable sample letters found in the Signage and communication tools drawer below.

Recruit volunteers and/or staff to help set up and monitor waste stations on the day of the event.

Include information about your recycling efforts in news releases, event programs, marketing and advertising materials.

At the event

  1. Greet each vendor and exhibitor during set-up and provide clear instructions for recycling their materials, such as rinsing food out of containers, flattening cardboard boxes, etc.
  2. Always place recycling, composting and trash receptacles together to form a recycling station. This will help ensure that materials end up in the correct container, reducing contamination.
  3. Label containers with large, clear and specific signs. If possible, include pictures or post examples of what goes in each container. Download and use our event recycling signs found in the Signage and communication tools drawer below.
  4. Staff recycling stations at all times to help event participants place their waste in the correct container. If this is not possible, assign someone to check each area periodically. Master Recycler Composters (MRCs) may be available to help with you event. Visit our MRC webpage to make a request.
  5. Empty bins often, especially during the summer when bees and odors can discourage recycling.

After the event

Calculate your diversion rate by using the following formula: diversion rate = amount recycled/(amount recycled + amount disposed).

Share your success with sponsors, participants and coordinators!

Take note of what, if anything, you can improve for next year.

Use the following resources to plan and implement green events.

Communicating to vendors

Download and customize these letters to communicate your waste reduction goals and recycling guidelines to vendors and presenters.


Having well-labeled recycling, organics and trash containers is one key step to making recycling at your event a success.

Download and print the signs that mostly closely match the materials you will have at your event:

Recycle – cans, bottles, cups, cartons, paper

Recycle – cans and bottles

Recycle – cardboard

Organics for composting – food and paper

Organics for composting – food, paper and compostable products


Check with your event venue first to see if they offer recycling and organics collection service.

If recycling and organics collection is not provided by the event site, coordinators can either hire a hauler or self-haul recyclables to a drop-off site. Depending on what is being collected, it may be economical to do a combination of both.

Questions to ask potential haulers

When hiring a waste hauler, ask the following:

  • What materials will the hauler collect?
  • What will the services cost?
  • What is the hauler’s experience with event recycling?
  • Can the hauler provide the collection containers?
  • Will the hauler provide signage and container labeling?
  • Is the hauler able to measure and report garbage and recycling data?

Collection services

Finding a hauler that will take all of the materials generated at the event — garbage, recyclables and organics — is the most convenient.

Drop-off locations

Self-hauling some materials to a drop-off site for processing can be an economical way to manage event waste.

Open all