This summer, several Kāpiti events committed themselves to having a lot of fun without a lot of waste. Organisers adopted a “Zero Waste” philosophy, focusing on reducing the amount of resources consumed, and on keeping the materials that are used in cycles, so that anything that’s discarded becomes a resource for something else. This means switching to reusable, compostable and recyclable food and drink packaging, and sending as little to landfill as possible.
While there are a number of considerations that go into planning a zero waste event, event organisers agreed that there were two key success factors to achieving high diversion from landfill: Effective communication of packaging expectations to food vendors before the event, and a dedicated waste team on the ground on the day.
Waitangi Day waste minimisation cracks 70% diversion
This year’s Waitangi Day event at the Ōtaki Māori Racecourse was the tenth formal Waitangi Day event co-organised by council and local iwi, and the fifth with zero waste aspirations.
Setting up recycling stations consisting of separate bins for compostable, recyclable and landfilI waste and including zero waste guidelines in the vendor registration form - asking vendors to choose compostable and recyclable packaging for their stalls - meant a 70% waste diversion rate was achieved at this year’s event. This is a marked step up from previous years which ranged from 34%-55% diversion.
“I think what really made a difference this year was the great team of volunteers and staff that helped out at the waste stations, encouraging visitors to place their waste in the right bins” says Katharina Kennedy, Council’s Waste Minimisation Officer.
Most vendors had brought compostable plates, cups, napkins etc., which meant that 60% of all the waste produced at the event could be composted. Another 10% was recyclable, mostly drinks cans and bottles. “I hope that in time we can get all our food and drinks vendors on board with using compostable packaging, and perhaps crack the 80% mark next year. A challenging area remains the hangi, which is typically cooked and sold in aluminium trays – those can’t be recycled and have to go to landfill at the end of the day. We’re still looking for a workable solution for that.”
Mayor Gurunathan gets behind recycling with volunteer Christine on Waitangi Day
Shiny Side Up diverts a record 95% of waste from landfill
Shiny Side Up was an event for motorcyclists – a crowd you wouldn’t necessarily associate with green principles – however, the 2,200 strong crowd were happy to come on board with the zero waste kaupapa of the day. The organisers were thrilled to have diverted 95% of waste created at the event from landfill. Event organiser Vanessa Rushton says that the key success factors were getting on to the food vendors early on regarding their packaging, and having a great waste team to help event goers place their waste in the correct stream on the day.
There was a thorough section around waste policy in the vendor application form, along with follow up emails & phone calls to confirm the packaging to be used by each vendor. In one case, a thirty-minute conversation with Baxters Catering resulted in a whole new range of compostable or recyclable packaging – in place of landfill only options that would otherwise have been used. This was a huge win, as not only was the packaging diverted on the day, but the company is now equipped to make better planet-friendly packaging choices at future events.
Vanessa’s take-away message is that waste minimisation is not rocket science – all you need is a little bit of knowledge and a commitment to make it happen. She looks forward to nailing down that final 5% in 2018!
Hannah points a visitor to the right bin at Shiny Side Up
Are you keen to go zero waste at you next event?
Then you’re in good company, with Coastella, the Ōtaki Kite Festival, and several school fairs and galas all going zero waste this season. There a plenty of free resources available to help you, like bin hoods, sample vendor guidelines and volunteer training notes, a list of compostable packaging suppliers, and free advice!