Monitoring and Evaluating Special Events
Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
Monitoring, or measuring certain aspects of the recycling program, helps you identify both successes and challenges and provides an opportunity for troubleshooting. Once the monitoring information has been collected, you will use the data to evaluate the recycling program.
Refer to the Monitoring and Evaluation page for general guidance. Special events, however, require additional considerations because they are generally temporary and typically use volunteers. The following are things to keep in mind for recycling programs at special events.
Volunteers, vendors, concessionaires, exhibitors, and the public all contribute their time to a special event. It is important to gather information from these groups to monitor your program. Event planners should ask volunteers about their experiences with the program. The volunteers, in turn, can get feedback from vendors, concessionaires, exhibitors, and the public.
Get feedback about:
- Extent to which free items and giveaways are discarded in the trash.
- Frequently asked questions and clarifications directed to volunteers.
Monitoring can be done a number of ways. Use the Recycling Program Evaluation Table (PDF) (1 pg, 36K, about PDF) as a guide for tracking visual observations during the event. Interviewing vendors, concessionaires, exhibitors, volunteers, staff, and guests can provide great feedback. It may also be beneficial to create a survey for the public to complete at the end of the event. The following questions will help you determine the success of the program:
- What was successful about the recycling program?
- What didnt work with the program?
- What problems have you observed?
- Did you notice contamination problems? If so, what kind of contamination?
- How did the visitors react to the program?
- Were there an adequate number of recycling bins?
- Were the bins easily accessible?
- Were the bins clearly labeled and identifiable?
- Was there enough storage space for the recyclables?
- What kinds of questions were you asked? Were you able to answer the questions?
- Are there any new materials you think should be collected at future events?
- Do you have any suggestions for improving the recycling program for the next event?
Remember to ask only a short series of concise questions when interviewing peopleits their time and its precious! Plan on asking questions verbally since very few individuals will take time at the event to complete a written survey. Here are a few pointers when asking for feedback:
- Volunteers should be asked for feedback at the end of their shift at each event, if there are multiple events.
- Feedback from the vendors, concessionaires, exhibitors, and staff can be conducted either: 1) at each event, 2) at the end of the event season (if the event is a series), or 3) a combination of both.
- Draft several questionnaires, tailoring the questions to the different audiences. For example, special event attendees wont know about contamination of collection containers and storage space is not their concern. Multiple questionnaires will need to be written and administered.
If you are using volunteers to staff a recycling effort at a special event, get their feedback on the programs pros and cons. In addition to the questions listed above, volunteers will be able to provide other valuable insight:
- Was the program well organized?
- Were the recyclables transferred from the collection areas to the storage areas smoothly?
- What materials made up the majority of the trash?
- How can this trash be reduced? Are there items or packaging from items sold by vendors in the trash?
- What would you change to make the program more successful at next years event?
Since volunteers will be very involved with the program, have them monitor the program during the event. At the end of the event, the recycling coordinator should collect the information gathered by volunteers.
With the information gathered during the monitoring process, assess the success of your recycling program. Publish the actual weight of materials diverted from the waste stream or use environmental benefits to translate the impacts of your waste prevention and recycling program. Refer to the WAste Reduction Model (WARM) Calculator on the EPA website to convert waste reduction values into greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy savings.