BeaconHouse Events logo

Be part of the pollution solution: Five alternatives to single-use plastics for your next event

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people and businesses to be part of the solution to plastic pollution. By taking measured and meaningful steps, together, we can all play a part in protecting our planet and reducing our impact.

Next year BeaconHouse Events will celebrate our 10th year in business and our vision has always been to drive positive, lasting impact with every event we do, whether that be a conference, exhibition, awards ceremony or festival; and with the prediction that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish, it’s time to tackle the issue head on. We recognise that the event industry has a major impact on our planet and we take our role in that seriously. We don’t want to make grand statements and big promises, but we are committed to working with our team, our suppliers and our clients to make consistent, considered changes as a carbon responsible business. This includes taking a close look at how we can significantly reduce, commit to reuse and make it easier to recycle any single-use plastics at our events.

From 1 October 2023 businesses must no longer supply, sell or offer certain single-use plastic items in England, this includes the sale of plastic cutlery, balloon sticks and polystyrene cups. So, what are the alternatives that will allow you to give your delegates a great experience?


Lanyards are usually the first thing you see when you enter an event, but traditional lanyards are made from plastic materials that will take hundreds of years to decompose. Not the kind of legacy you want your event to have! Luckily there are plenty of eco-friendly, affordable options on the market now, including lanyards made of bamboo or recycled fabrics, which achieve the same effect. Where possible to avoid date specific branding and you can use your lanyard again and again (it’s more cost effective too!) – and avoid the plastic wallet and print your badge info on recycled card.

Plastic bottles and cups

According to a 2022 study by Zero Waste Scotland, if reusable cups replaced single-use plastic cups, carbon emissions could fall by 69%. In UK terms, a switch from disposable cups to reusable cups could save 52,000 t CO2e each year! Most people have a cupboard full of reusable water bottles at home that they use for the gym, their commute or for the office. Communicate with your delegates in advance, explain your environmental commitments and encourage them to bring their own reusable water bottles or hot drink cups along on the day, avoiding the dreaded piles of single-use water bottles making their way to landfill when the event is over. You could even offer an incentive on the day for anyone who remembers to bring theirs along.


You want to put your own stamp on your venue and curate a space that your delegates enjoy being in and want to share. There can be the temptation to invest in photo-ops like balloon walls, but with a bit of creativity you can create something striking that your guests will really remember. Plants are great for mindfulness so in place of balloons (that can take around 450 years to decompose!), consider hiring something that can be reused, fresh foliage or a living wall to bring your space to life instead.

Cutlery and plates

People always remember which events have a good spread, and now they might also remember how it was served too. Knives, forks and spoons made from birchwood are a sustainable alternative for plastic cutlery, the tree grows fast and because it is naturally smooth there are no worries about splinters. There are even edible options on the market made from Jowar flour; they decompose very quickly, especially when you add water to them or the other, more fun option, is to eat them. Replace your plastic plates with more biodegradable options like bamboo or even corn starch; these alternatives are just as durable as plastic and can look a lot more aesthetically pleasing too.

Plastic bags

There is often a lot to carry at an event, festival or conference and giving out handy carrier bags can make a delegate’s life much easier; but did you know that less that 1% of the 5 trillion plastic bags we use worldwide each year are recycled? Tote bags on the other hand are washable, reusable and can be made from recycled materials (and who doesn’t love a practical tote bag when they are nipping to the shops). Should it be a single day event, perhaps a branded paper shopper could be the better fit, and easily recycled by attendees afterwards. If you are giving out merch at your event, why not avoid the usual plastic waste and opt for wooden USB sticks, postcard seed sticks or bamboo notepads instead.

Our ESG strategy is based around key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise known as the Global Goals, which look to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. We particularly wanted to focus the strategy on areas where we could make meaningful change as a team, including Climate Action, Responsible Consumption and Production, Quality Education and Good Health and Wellbeing; all areas where we can strive to have an authentic and last impact both in the North East and across the events sector as a whole.

To find out more about how we can help you to work towards your sustainability goals or to understand more about how we are making changes as a business contact