We believe that every event is unique and therefore every waste management plan is individually tailored to the expected audience and to the actual physical surroundings of your festival. These plans outline details of how to collect and dispose of all waste generated, whilst always looking at decreasing the total amount of recyclables going to landfill.
Typically we follow the old adage, Reduce, Re-Use and Recycle.
Reduction of waste bought onto site. Initiatives such as souvenir beer mugs, cable tie bans, pre-erected tents, email and website incentives and water refill stations can all be implemented prior to the event.
Re-using the waste that is generated during the festival has become one of those challenges we love rising to. Working with Landcare to use leftover carpet to stop land erosion, refurbishing mattresses, storing sofas, interacting with local homeless charities who can re-use tents or even setting up working bees to make all that leftover trash into next years decor, are all ways events can reuse items that would otherwise go to landfill.
Ah, Recycling. Aluminium, Steel, PVC, Cardboard, Paper, Tetrapac’s, PET, HDPE, LDPE….the crazy thing is every region differs in what can be recycled. So with recycling comes education and inevitably separation. We use manned bin stations, roaming perfomance artists, installation art, communication through a festival’s website, on-the-door meet and greeters and packaging audits to help the audience to separate the recycling for us. Cost savings or even extra income can also be made by working with local scrap metal dealers or drinking can reimbursement schemes. And in the future? Perhaps we’ll even be making you money from plastic bottles.
Remember in the bad ol’ days when it was enough to just provide rubbish bins for revellers? See, you could still do that. But as Victorian events are finding out this is becoming silly expensive. In 2009 dumping into landfill using a waste company like SITA or Veolia cost just $82 a tonne. It was almost as cheap as recycling. But from July 2010 these rates are set to rise by two thirds , making recycling a viable and cost saving exercise. And eventually this will be happening across Australia…
So, this is where waste streaming at events comes in.Typically we put in place four streams during the event:Plastics & Glass, Cans & Metals, Food & Compostables & Landfill. Additionally Recyclables (’everything but plastic bags and food’) is cited for any campsite bag deposit schemes’ (easier to communicate at the entry point to the event) and Cardboard and Hazardous Materials (back of house only) are used.
Plastics and metals are kept separated for a few reasons: from an operational perspective one bin labeled ‘recyclables’ fill’s quicker than the others, resulting in more empties per day. Also, keeping the metals separate enable’s us to get an idea of what percentage cans are making up the recycling stream. If seperated this also saves on hired space, such as skips, to store recycling and the cans can be sold as scrap metal in most states, or if you’re a lucky South Australian event then the cans can always be returned for their deposits. Finally, depending on which state or country a patron originates from the term “recyclable’ can have slightly different connotations.
Of course there’s ongoing debate about waste streaming and labelling. Should it be General Waste instead of Landfill? It depends if you’re keen to mix and match processes (Composting and Landfill) with materials (Plastics & Metals) or stick to one or the other. We think it depends on your event cliental but it should be clear whatever you decide.
At the moment there aren’t too many places blessed with commercial composting facilities. Which is a shame because putting organic matter into landfill encourages it to decrease anerobically and therefore produces methane as a byproduct. Evil methane is said to be up to 20 times more potent as a green house gas than carbon dioxide. So If there’s one thing we’re really keen on, it’s making use of that organic matter.
On Site Composting
Composting on site has a few big benefits. The first is that a system usually based on people power, rather than trucks using fossil fuels, can be implemented. The second is that over the course of a year the organic matter that has been collected will become beautiful food for fruit, veggies and flowers. It can even be used to help revegitate areas of the festival site that have suffered from the event. And of course, with not organic matter going to landfill, cost savings can be made in dumpage costs.The downside is that unless the event is held in a permanent location, landowners are not as keen to have a composting area on their land and that a local ‘composting champion’ often has to be appointed to maintain the composting.
There are a few types of community group that will often take the festivals organic waste, provided it is pre-shredded. Schools partaking in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Gardens scheme usually have on-site composting, although events with a capacity larger than 4,000 may flood just one school and are better off arranging to deliver to a few different schools. Other social groups worth talking to arecommunity gardens and local farmers.
The hassle free alternative is to find a waste management company that has a commercial composting facility near by. Commercial composting facilities can process large amounts of organic material at once and depending on the type of facility, may also be able to compost PLA , cornstarch and other biodegradable materials that typically need a higher heat to break down optimally. Of course there’s usually a cost involved for collection but it’s a way of keep you hands clean. So to speak.