How a vendor policy can save your event money

This year Glastonbury festival replaced most of its traditional toilets by organic compost toilets. The organisers of Shambala music festival in the UK decided to have a meat and fish-free event. And a few years ago Bonnaroo introduced the Refill Revolution, urging visitors to avoid using plastic bottles or at least re-using the same bottle. Just some of the initiatives you can think of when you develop a vendor policy for your next event.

Instead of just focusing on your audience you should carefully look at your vendors. After all, event organisers have a say in what comes onto their event site. One way to do this is to work with a vendor policy. 

Vendor policy for your event

A vendor policy is a written guideline, in line with your vision, detailing your procurement policies. It basically is a list of your requirements to your contractors and vendors in order to do business with them. These requirements make up your environmental policy.

You can ask vendors and contractors for their environmental policy, which will give you an idea of how they conduct business. For example you can ask whether their produce is organic and that products have the Fair Trade seal. Make sure you know what it means if a product is organic, free range, or Fair Trade before you demand it from your vendors and contractors.

You may decide that your products should be locally sourced. In that case you need to define what you mean by locally so there is no confusion later on. Different countries have a different definition of local.

Know your stuff

Event planners should have a clear idea about the materials they want to avoid coming onto their event site. It is a decision process you are in charge of. Are the plates, cups, utensils, etc. that your vendors use recyclable, biodegradable or compostable? Make sure you know the difference between recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable.

No policy?

No policy?

Do check that the products you allow on site comply with your vendor policy. This requires planning! I’ve been at one event where one vendor was temporarily shut down because they used plastic utensils. How do you deal with this? And what are the consequences for you and the vendor? Again, this requires planning.

Also be prepared for products and items that might be brought on site by your visitors. These products might just be waste by the time your event has finished. They are now your problem, meaning you need to deal with it.

Plan your policy

Provide guidelines to your vendors and contractors if you decide to ask them to offset the carbon they produce whilst on site. Give them detailed information of what you expect from them. Help your vendors and contractors where possible.

You should tell your vendors and contractors if you want them to support your local community. Be clear in what you expect from them on this point. Explain why you have chosen to support certain charities, organisations, or clubs. What should their contribution be?

When planning your event you need to tell your vendors and contractors what you expect from them, as the material that they’ll use will eventually impact your waste management bill. Please be as transparent as possible and explain your policies to your vendors. First things first though: know exactly what you want from your contractors and vendors!

For more information about vendor policies and sustainability visit my website. You can also follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.