The Orewa Boulevard Arts Festival this weekend will be the first local event to focus on reducing the amount of waste it generates.
The process includes encouraging businesses involved to use recyclable or compostable packaging, as well as separating rubbish at source. Organiser Destination Orewa Beach has set the benchmark high, aiming to send less than one 240 litre bin to landfill from the event, which attracts thousands of people and has more than 100 stalls and 20 food trucks. By not separating rubbish at source, an event like this would normally generate around 20 bins of landfill waste.
Orewa Surf Living Saving Club and Whangaparaoa Community Recycling Centre are working with Destination Orewa, local businesses and stallholders, to make it happen. Auckland Council has been working with event organisers to reduce waste since it adopted its Waste Management and Minimisation Plan in 2012. There have been hundreds of zero waste events since then throughout Auckland that have diverted between 75 percent and 95 percent of material from landfill.
However, this is the first time the waste requirements have been fully implemented at a Hibiscus Coast event – something Destination Orewa Beach operations manager Hellen Wilkins says is largely because of cost.
She says reducing landfill waste at the arts festival is costing her organisation $3600 – normal rubbish requirements for an event like this cost organisers around $500.
Hellen says that a grant from Council assisted with the extra cost and Destination Orewa is covering the rest.
“People want to do it but the financial support and infrastructure is not yet in place,” she says. “We can only attempt it because of support from Northern Zero Waste and volunteers from Orewa Surf Club, who are working for a koha.”
She says a large part of its success will depend on the public who attend, so a lot of emphasis is on education. “We want to help raise awareness in the community and local businesses about efficient waste management so that these things could become the norm in the future,” she says.
When the wrong material is put in a bin, the entire contents are contaminated and the bin must go to landfill. To prevent this happening, Surf Club volunteers, mainly the parents of junior lifeguards, will staff the 10 bin stations to help people put their rubbish in the right place – there will be three options, recyclables, compostables and landfill.
In addition, volunteers from Northern Zero Waste will sort the contents of each bin.
Recyclables will go to the Whangaparaoa Community Recycling Centre, compostables will be transported to Tuakau by a local company, Compost Couriers, for hot composting. Paper, wood, PLA (a plastic-like material made of corn starch), bamboo, sugarcane and potato starch plates, cups, bowls and cutlery will all be composted along with food scraps.
Council says its emphasis is on education, rather than regulation as it targets zero waste. Waste planning manager, Parul Sood, says Council understands that budget is a problem for some small events. “Our approach is to introduce the concept and work with the organiser to get closer to the goal, year on year,” she says. “There are measures that don’t need to be costly. An example may be banning polystyrene from the event or requesting participants at a sports event bring reusable drink bottles. Where food is a major component of an event, we ask that a third bin, for compostable material, is introduced to keep food waste out of the landfill.”
However, Ms Sood says should an event organiser consistently refuse to work towards the zero waste goal, and is conducting their event in a public place or with ratepayers’ assistance, then Council may refuse to permit the event. She says to date this has happened on only one occasion and the following year that organiser met the criteria so the event could go ahead.
More than $500 of the costs carried by Destination Orewa are to transport compostable waste to Tuakau, as Council has no composting facility. Ms Sood says as the collection of food scraps from residential properties in urban Auckland is introduced, the processing capacity for food waste will also increase locally over the next few years.
Mrs Wilkins says she received a very positive response from stallholders and local businesses to the zero waste initiative, which could lead to long term changes in local waste management. “A very high percentage of the mobile vendors and a good number of hospitality outlets said that they already work with recyclable or compostable food packaging,” she says. “A far higher number than we thought are already very conscious of the environment and waste impacts. This is great, as waste minimisation expectations will only increase in the future.”
She says Northern Zero Waste has been advising the businesses involved of products they can use to replace current products, over time, to help the environment. “Hopefully there will be some long term changes made throughout the hospitality sector in Orewa as a result of this initiative,” Mrs Wilkins says.
The Orewa Boulevard Arts Festival is on Saturday, February 17, 1pm–7pm.
Have your say
The draft of the updated version of the Council’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan goes out for consultation from February 28 to March 28 (HM November 1, 2017). It includes increased charges for households and commercial operators who generate a lot of waste. The focus is on reducing construction and demolition waste, organic waste and plastics.