NZ's major summer festivals are getting focused on waste!
If you're heading to one of New Zealand's many events this summer, you might struggle to find a traditional plastic cup, straw, plate or cutlery. This is no accident – event organisers around the country are taking their focus on sustainability up a level this year, focusing on reducing plastic and waste to landfill.
The industry average for landfill diversion at music festivals is only about 30 per cent – and NZ event managers say this isn't good enough. They're setting higher standards for themselves.
The organisers of RnV (Gisborne), the Night Noodle Markets (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch), Bay Dreams (Mount Maunganui and Nelson), Soundsplash (Raglan and Timaru), One Love Festival (Mount Maunganui) and A Night Before Christmas (Papamoa) are all determined to minimise waste at their combined ten events this summer.
Each event has food and beverage vendors like food trucks and drinks carts to supply the crowds, some of up to 22,000 people! Takeaway food often produces packaging waste that has traditionally ended up in landfill, but that's about to change.
These six homegrown events have all partnered with Ecoware, and food vendors at these events must use compostable packaging - swapping out plastic products out for our plant-based alternatives. They're all working to divert their food waste away from landfill and get it composted. For some, this could mean only 15% of their waste will end up in landfill – the rest will be composted or recycled.
In partnering with Ecoware, we're also able to educate food vendors and event management teams on waste concepts and composting, as well as supply them with their packaging needs. For most of them, this includes a mix of paper cups, food bowls, wooden cutlery, burger boxes, noodle boxes and more – all made from plants.
"Closed-loop environments are such a good platform to execute zero waste initiatives because you can control what people bring in to the event – including any food vendors – and how you manage that waste afterwards." says Ecoware director James Calver.
"The biggest thing about implementing compostable packaging is that it simplifies waste for the event. Provided the attendees put the right things in the right bin, all you need is one bin for the food waste and the packaging. There's no need to worry about one contaminating the other or wash items before they can be recycled. For example, you don't have to worry that someone's food scraps are still on the bamboo plate when it goes into the organics bin or a half-finished smoothie. Everything will eventually break down into nutrient-rich compost," James explains.
These events are also offering other sustainability initiatives, including hydration stations to refill reusable bottles, bans on single-use plastic drink bottles, volunteers manning waste stations and tent hiring options to reduce all the tents left behind as waste at the end of the festival.
We're thrilled to see so many of NZ's major events taking responsibility for their waste. They're a great example of how to divert waste from landfill with any event, including school fairs, weekend markets, stadium concerts – anywhere that you're in charge of the packaging coming in and going out.
"At an event or festival, people generally spend time eating and drinking and having a good time – and we want them to continue to do that, but without the negative environmental impact of creating landfill waste." says James. "Overseas now you'll have MCs at the basketball or baseball on the mic, getting the crowd to put their compostable cup in the air and feel good about not contributing to plastic waste and the crowd erupting in cheers. If we can get attendees to be on-board with it and part of the movement, we can make a difference."