How can small to medium-sized local businesses improve the legacy of major city events and conferences?

Read the brief



Announcing winning solutions

These are the three solutions that provided the most potential for local implementation, cross-border generalisability, scalability, and impact, and that will receive support from the SEC during the incubation phase.



New focus: What could a truly circular events space look like?

We've kept the challenge fairly broad to include and encourage as many ideas as possible so far, and your contributions did not disappoint! We have also realised, however, that a more specific question could go a long way in framing and guiding the ideation and collaboration process.To ensure solutions see the light of day and to steer you in the right direction, we would now like to dig deeper into what a truly circular events space could look like in practice. 

We encourage you to think about how existing exhibition and conference centres in particular can incorporate circular economy principles into their modus operandi, and how they can enable positive change within and around their businesses. 

We invite you not only to submit new ideas but also to look back on the ones you've already submitted and think about how they relate to this context!

Circular Glasgow, Circle Economy, People Make Glasgow Greener, Glasgow Convention Bureau Logos
Scottish Events Campus, Zero Waste Scotland, European Regional Development Fund Logos

The challenge

How can small to medium-sized local businesses improve the legacy of major city events and conferences?

Here are some trigger questions to get you thinking.

Festivals, concerts, and conferences bring cheer, excitement, and pride to the host and global communities they involve.

These events are a unique opportunity for citizens, businesses, and governments across cities and even entire countries to not only connect and engage with one another, but also to showcase their community to the regional or international stage; to invest in local infrastructure; and to boost the local economy.

Putting on these events, however, calls for tremendous amounts of resources that often go underutilised, and the aftermath can cast a long shadow on the lively atmospheres they brought on in the first place. From construction, plastic, and food waste to - in the worst case scenario - abandoned stadiums and crumbling infrastructure – opportunities to improve the legacy they leave behind are endless. 

The circular economy can help.

The local context

Every year, Glasgow plays host to a wide range of major events and conferences. Last year alone, the city recorded over three million attendances across a variety of high-profile events. From the Homeless World Cup to the BBC 6 Music Festival, the city offers a varied and vibrant event calendar for all there's never a dull day in the post-industrial city. And these numbers are only set to increase with major events such as the European Championship Games in 2018.

The city of Glasgow, however, also understands the challenges involved in the production of these events. The city’s commitment to sustainability has already made it the seventh most sustainable conference destination in the world and the first city in the UK to be included in the Global Destination Sustainability Index

How can the circular economy support their efforts?

Who are the solutions for?

Glasgow aspires to create a sustainable economy and a city with an enviable quality of life.  It aims to achieve this by inspiring businesses to embrace innovation and creativity, implementing the circular economy in order to position Glasgow as a leading circular city.

For this reason, the solutions we are looking for should engage and be taken on by citizens, entrepreneurs, event and conference organisers, and small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Glasgow involved in the production of high-profile events. 

Including but not limited to:

  • Hotels, restaurants, & bars
  • Laundry services
  • Food & beverages
  • Logistics & transport
  • Visitor attractions
  • Technology companies
  • Travel trade
  • Tourism services
  • Industry associations
  • Marketing services
  • Research
  • Retail,
  • Recreation and entertainment

The scope

For the purpose of this challenge, we consider major events and conferences to be any public-facing event or conference that: 

  • Attracts a large number of visitors (over 1,000)
  • Has a national or international PR and media reach
  • Has a positive impact on the city’s strategy for tourism

This includes sporting events, cultural and music festivals, trade shows and exhibitions, award ceremonies, conferences, and any other type of event that fulfills the criteria above.

Selection criteria

When submitting ideas, please keep in mind that the final solutions must: 

Who can get involved, and how?

From Rio de Janeiro to Seoul, cities worldwide are facing similar challenges, and we welcome any and all ideas that have the potential to make an impact both locally and globally.  Learn more about the ways you can get involved here >

What happens after the challenge?

The solutions shape the process. Circular Glasgow has committed to facilitate the incubation process locally, in partnership with a local incubator, and is very excited to involve the Circle Lab community in that next step. Learn more about the incubation process here > 


Not sure where to start?

From setting up to cleaning up, there is an opportunity every step of the way for the circular economy to improve the impact and legacy of high-profile events and conferences.  

To help you get started and guide your thinking, here are some of the areas of opportunity that we have identified and that we think provide significant potential for positive change:

Venues & (infra)structures

The temporary nature of the structures used to support stages and exhibits at events and conferences is often responsible for a lot of resource loss. Construction materials and decorations, for example, can make up to 47% of a festival’s total waste. Larger infrastructure investments, while usually beneficial to host communities, can also come at the environment’s expense, as the built environment sector accounts for up to 40% of the world’s total annual material use.  How can circular principles inform and improve the choice, design, setup, disassembly, and disposal of event and conference structures and infrastructures? 

Some inspiration:


A high influx of visitors requires just as high a number of beds, bars, and bistros to accommodate all of their needs, along with the laundry and cleaning services their stay will call for. Energy and consumption bills are bound to run higher than usual. At outdoor music festivals, campsite waste could account for as much as 86% of the festival’s total waste. How can we harness the activity of these temporary residents’ and how can we reimagine accommodation for the better?

Some inspiration:

Food & bio-waste

From the distance the food travels and its packaging to the containers and cutlery used to consume the final product, all the way through to the food scraps and leftovers that will go uneaten - what’s on the menu at an event, how it is made available, and how much of it is available will significantly impact the event’s environmental footprint. Given that 31% of food on average is lost along the value chain, and that 72% of plastic packaging is never recovered, how can we rethink our relationship with the food and drinks required to feed the crowds?  

Some inspiration:

Plastic & other waste streams

Single-use, disposable plastics are commonplace at large events and often serve useful, but short-lived purposes. Other materials such as paper and glass also often find their way to the landfill. How can we best optimise the value of the waste we generate at events?

Some inspiration:

Marketing & Communications 

From the flyers, stickers, banners, and merchandise used to advertise and cultivate the event’s identity through to the lanyards and tickets used at the gate, disposable materials often permeate creative efforts and the bins they end up in. How can creatives find opportunities in events and conferences to enable a circular economy? 

Some inspiration:


The single biggest contributor to an event’s carbon footprint is travel, accounting for about 90% of the carbon emissions from an average event. This includes both the event’s guests and the different ways they get to destination, but also the logistics involved in storing, packaging, and transporting the different goods procured. How can events and conferences around the world be more mindful of how people (and things!) get to them? 

Some inspiration:




Challenge Timeline


Ideation phase has ended

Please refer to the Contribution Guide in the challenge brief above for more information on why, what, and how to contribute to this challenge, including any point systems used.