Global Guidelines for safe use of ‘Reusable Food and Beverage Serveware’ at Events

Event industry, health and safety and sustainability stakeholders from around the world have come together to demonstrate that reusable food and beverage serveware can be used safely in all event settings, with today’s release of the Reusables at Events Hygiene – Global Best Practice Guidelines.

Convened by the Sustainable Event Alliance, leaders from throughout the events and sports sector came together to develop the guidelines including A Greener Festival, Green Events International, and Oceanic Global as well as reusables system companies, event delivery experts and other specialists. The project was possible through the support of The Ocean Race and 11th Hour Racing and was managed by Christie Kamphuis of Bettercup. 

The guidelines detail the best practices for implementing ‘reusables’ consistently and safely at events and venues such as live entertainment, music, festivals and sporting events, with safety and environmental benefit at its core.

The project was born out of the Sustainable Event Alliance’s global hackathon, held in April 2020, where 800 event industry representatives gathered to look at risks and opportunities to #buildbackbetter as we plan how we might emerge as an industry from this global COVID-19 crisis.

With hygiene concerns around COVID-19 paramount, the guidelines will ensure reusable items such as drinking cups and food serveware, are implemented to global best-practice hygiene standards.

“The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a global discussion of how to ensure the safety of reusable systems in a public health crisis. We have gathered information based on the best available science, existing standards and guidance from public health professionals and it has proven reusable systems at events and venues can be used safely by employing basic hygiene” said Co-founder of Bettercup Australia and New Zealand and Sustainable Event Alliance leadership team member, Christie Kamphuis.

In analysing health and safety advice from across the world some important truths are revealed in the guidelines and will help reinforce event organiser’s confidence in keeping their reusables and not reverting to single-use, especially single-use plastics.

  1. Reusables are safe to use
  2. Single-use disposable items are not safer to use
  3. Single-use disposable items are not being specifically promoted by health authorities as preferential.
  4. Heat and detergents are effective measures to inactivate viruses. 

Single-use items including plastics, wood, paper and other composite materials are not inherently safer, and cause additional public health concerns once discarded. Viruses and bacteria can exist on various surfaces regardless of whether they are single-use disposable or reusable. The benefit of reusable products is that, unlike single-use items, they are cleaned and sanitised according to strict food safety standards and can continue to be used, eliminating unnecessary waste and generating a positive outcome for our environment.

The guidelines are flexible, adaptable and scalable to meet the varying implementation requirements of an event, venue, or supplier with safety and environmental benefit at its core and are based on existing standards and evidence gathered around the world, intended to drive assurance, transparency and accountability for consumers, industry and governments alike.

“We are calling on all reusables suppliers, events and venues, event industry professionals, sustainability and health experts and all other relevant stakeholders to endorse the guidelines via the Sustainable Event Alliance website. By declaring recognition of the evidence, a commitment to best-practices collectively and adopting a global consistent standard when implementing reusables in event settings, we can increase safety awareness and confidence in reusable systems around the world.” 

For more information on the Global Reusables at Events Hygiene Project and to endorse the guidelines