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Working Towards Zero Waste: act local, think global
The Working Towards Zero Waste Events initiative began with the Opera In The Park, aka The Sealord Night with the Stars a world class celebration of the performing arts, enjoyed by thousands of locals since 1999, with the usual back-drop of stunning late-summer sunsets that we in Nelson take for granted
However, it wasn't all wine and roses
We knew something was
the intentional tyop is a nod to the amazing Kim Merry - an event organiser like no other
when, year after year, the audience rose to a standing ovation in appreciation of the magic on stage, yet remained seemingly oblivious to the reality that they were on a sports field, that had to be transformed back into a hockey pitch by 9am the next day
The clean-up of acres of grass was a perennially laborious task for a huge team working, in unison - like a line of police gathering evidence, to sweep the field and remove trailer loads of thoughtlessly discarded rubbish and broken glass all destined for the local landfill
The annual gathering of thousands of locals and visiting tourists, relaxing in the recreational setting of an outdoor gig at the end of summer, celebrating the culture of their community and enjoying live performance art in the relaxed atmosphere of a park was seen as an ideal opportunity to effect widespread change
Building on the sense of pride of such an immense specatcle being staged in our own little town, the plan was to (gently) challenge people - young and old - to re-think about the way we are going and, hopefully, choose to make changes that will encourage cooperation; working together now to maintain and improve the future of our neighbourhoods, the surrounding region and beyond
The words 'working towards' were included in recognition that arriving at the goal of zero waste is always going to be a work-in-process, influenced by the supply of and the demand for more environmentally-friendly methods of packaging our food and drinks at events, in cafés and in supermarkets
With the collapse of readily available markets for our recyclables, it is unsustainable practice to allow food vendors at Opera to hand out product in packaging that is non-reusable or non-compostable.
At Sealord Opera In The Park 2010 the only 'waste' that we will be accepting will be compostable material.
For Opera 2009 we will provide landfill and recycling bins but will contain these to 3 areas:
· at each of the food vendors areas
· and a station in the Gold Patrons area
We currently put a huge amount of resources into dealing with waste at our events. Freeing these resources up will make our events more sustainable, educative and better for our planet.
I'm not sure what the question was but RECYCLING does not seem to be the answer.
Technical Director, Summer Arts Festival
12 Dec 2008
2009: The Gamble Paid Dividends
With the 'in-house' rubbish bins artistically camouflaged (with off-cuts of 'waste' lycra) and frequent yet subtle reminders from the Emcee to Pack It In and Pack It Out, the desision to provide only three 'waste stations' actually worked!
At around midnight, under the bright lights of the recently renovated Trafalgar Park, the bump-out crew paused for a well-earned brew and beheld what was truly a sight for sore eyes: dozens of seagulls pecking away at food scraps, yet barely a small wheelie bin of litter to collect
For the event producers, the result proved to be a huge relief, not only for their budget but also their faith in humanity!
Thanks to Amanda from Eco Express in Christchurch, who timed a trip home to coincide with a free presentation of compostable packaging, we enjoyed a 100% buy-in from the foodies who all readily complied with the new compostable-packaging only requirements for the summer of 2009/2010
Encouraged almost beyond belief, the 2010 Opera in the Park was staged at the Tahunanui Reserve Trafalgar Park was being upgraded for the Rugby World Cup without a recycling bin in sight of the 15,000-strong audience
The only waste receptacles on the immense site were compost bins
Thanks to subtle yet clear instructions from the Emcee, the audience played their part
And, yet again, it worked! An expanse of green with barely a wheelbarrow of litter to be picked up!
Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Whilst the decision to convert from recyclable to compostable packaging may well be a giant leap in the right direction, it is not the one simple solution to what is a complex problem of event-generated waste
However, if nothing else, it does prompt many people to rethink about how we can minimise our impact on the environment when organising and/or attending events
Plastics 2020 Challenge
BBC Radio 5 Wake Up to Money
7 July 2009
Environmental benefits of biodegradable plastics depend upon proper disposal
There is much debate about the total carbon, fossil fuel and water usage in manufacturing bioplastics from natural materials and whether they are a negative impact to human food supply.
There is concern that another greenhouse gas, methane, might be released when any biodegradable material, including truly biodegradable plastics, degrades in an anaerobic (landfill) environment.
Disposing of biodegradable plastics made from natural materials in anaerobic (landfill) environments will result in the plastic lasting for hundreds of years.
On average, in the ten years to 2009, waste going to landfill from the Nelson/Tasman region increased by 907.45 tonnes (that's 1.71% ) each and every year
And, the only drop is attributed to the impact of the economic recession hitting local industries
totals may not match due to rounding
|Year||Total||Eves Valley||York Valley|
Waste symbolises inefficiency and is the evidence of an unsustainable use of resources. As more waste is produced and as landfill space becomes scarcer, the cost of disposal continues to rise.
Source: nelsoncitycouncil.co.nz (PDF)
In the 2008/2009 base year, 67,733 tonnes of waste ended up in local landfills
With a combined population of just over 91,000, that equates to 740 kilograms per capita
That's more than one blue 14kg kerbside collection rubbish bag each and every week of the year for each and every man, woman and child in the district
That's a massive problem