Events are a crucial part of building social ties and connecting communities. With this, events can also be used as a vehicle for educating attendees about waste reduction and it is often important to individuals and organisations that they are seen to be doing their best to reduce the impact of an event. We have compiled this list of resources to help groups plan events using tools and skills that are likely at hand. There are numerous companies and projects around the country that may be able to help in this area too. Please get in touch if you know of anything that could be added to this list or have feedback on events you have run. Check with your local council what event permits are required if you are hosting events in council owned spaces (park, beach, square or road).

Planning events

A great place to start is the Beyond The Bin videos on how to reduce waste at events: Lets Talk Rubbish: A practical guide to event waste minimisation. They provide a breakdown of different things to think of and provide useful, practical solutions that you can implement for your event. 

Look at Let's Talk Rubbish, Video 1 Introduction from Kim Renshaw on Vimeo. 

View more of Kim Renshaw's videos on Vimeo. 

Zero Waste Events is a great website for thorough working lists for event organisers. They encourage organisers and stallholders to design an event that generates less waste, and/or the right kind of waste for reuse. Here is a printable guide to holding a Zero Waste Event.

Compostable packaging

When using compostable food and beverage packaging, ensure all material goes through the appropriate composting process. If it doesn’t, it will be sent to landfill. Compostable material in landfills is particularly bad for the environment.

Biodegradable packaging is made from polymers derived from renewable raw materials instead of oil, such as cellulose, soy protein or milk and especially starch (from vegetable sources such as potato, corn or rice, to make plastarch). Plastarch material is biodegradable after use, and the pulp can be formed into useful shapes by injection moulding or thermoforming followed by drying.

They can decompose in suitable composting conditions of warmth, wet and oxygen into simple chemicals, including carbon dioxide gas (or to methane if oxygen is restricted, as in landfill or an enclosed anaerobic digester).

If material otherwise useful as food is being turned into plastics there is direct competition for growing space and the oil input to those farming practices in fuel and petrochemical sprays should be considered before concluding that bioplastics are 'sustainable'.

Waterproof and heat tolerant PLA plastic packaging made from polylactic acid is transparent and resembles oil-derived PET (polyethylene terephthalate). It is claimed to be compostable, but only with success in anaerobic digesters which are not usually used for packaging materials. PLA packaging (using resin recycling ID code 7) is accidentally mixed with PET (using code1), because of similar appearance, which then makes the PET lower value for recycling and unviable . 

Starch is used to make paper-plate or bowl substitutes that can be coloured with food dyes, will compost once soiled by food; and starch is also used to make lightweight packaging padding as a polystyrene substitute.

The importance of knowing what the packaging is and where it goes

Compostable packaging suppliers

The following is a partial list of compostable packaging suppliers in New Zealand. In providing this list, One Planet does not endorse or guarantee the suppliers named.


FREE PHONE: 0800 PACK IT (0800 722 548)
FREE FAX: 0800 377 758
paper bags



Freephone:0800 465 666
Email: [email protected]
Biodegradable bags, cups, clamshells, recycled cardboard shelving


BCS Foodpak Ltd

Showroom: Unit C, 57
McLaughlins Road,
Tel: 09 277 0104
Fax: 03 277 0115
email: [email protected]
Biodegradable cups



Tel: 0800 GO 4 ECO
email: [email protected]
Compostable cups, cutlery, clamshells, plates, bowls, napkins, lids, food boxes


Eden Enterprises

116 Cook Street
New Plymouth 4310
Tel (06) 751 3229
100% Biodegradable corn starch products, plates, cups, bowls, straws, bags, etc. Products range & prices available online


Elidex Packaging Ltd

Philippa Wang (Auckland)
Tel 09 415 6747
Fax 09 415 6727
[email protected]
Range of biodegradable packaging including bags, cups etc



Box 83 132, Edmonton, Auckland
Tel 09 834 5340
Fax 09 834 5341
Mob: 027 410 4344
[email protected]
Biodegradable cornstarch bags, potatopak plates, bowls etc, PLA lined paper cups


Innocent Packaging

Tel 09 523 3870
[email protected]
Compostable cups, cutlery, clamshells, plates, soup bowls, noodle boxes, napkins, lids, straws


Kiwi Greenpak Ltd
Biodegradable cups, plates, bowls, clamshells etc


Potatopak NZ Ltd

P O Box 746
Blenheim 7240
Tel (03) 572 8977
100% Compostable potato starch products, plates, bowls, punnets, trays, cutlery etc. Products range & prices available online


Packaging House

91 Kerrs Road
Wiri, Auckland
Tel 263 1150
Fax 263 1151
[email protected]
Range of biodegradable products including clamshells, cups and bags


Area help for events

Tauranga-based Waste Watchers Ltd has been helping companies and councils save waste, save money and save the planet since 1999. Director and project manager Marty Hoffart has a particular interest in community-based social marketing and zero waste principles and he is highly experienced – and highly regarded - in resource efficiency initiatives.

Tauranga's Why Waste offer zero waste event services and consultations.

Timaru District Council encourage event organisers to plan for low or zero waste, by arranging collection/sorting facilities for compostables and recyclables, discouraging disposable packaging and other techniques. Download their guide for event organisers . Staff contact is Briony Woodnorth.

Auckland Council provides loan equipment for groups running events.

Christchurch based Our Daily Waste run zero waste event services as well as washing services for reusables through their Our Daily Wash project.

Selwyn council offers free event waste advisory services through the Selwyn Event Sustainability Initiative (SESI). For more information on SESI contact [email protected]. They also have an easy-to-follow event waste guide [PDF, 5525 KB] and one-page guides available for exhibitors [PDF, 41 KB] and food vendors [PDF, 41 KB]. These outline how they contribute to the success of the event in terms of minimising waste and impact on the environment.