A trial of disposable food packaging and cutlery at three major events in Christchurch is being heralded a huge success with a massive 12 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill.
More than 190,000 people took part in the trial which saw all food vendors at Sparks, the Christchurch Lantern Festival and the Fairfax Night Noodle Markets sign up to using compostable food packaging in a bid to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
Christchurch City Council Manager Events and Arts Karena Finnie said the trial results showed 61 per cent of waste from the events was diverted from landfill – a huge increase from the previous years across all three events.
“It has been a huge success – in the case of one of the events, the amount of waste diverted from landfill more than doubled this year. We had fantastic feedback from the public in terms of their support for what we were doing.
"Of those who completed surveys at two of the events, 89% of respondents thought that environmental sustainability initiatives at events were good, and importantly 33% of those who were aware of the trial said that seeing it in action would change their recycling and composting behaviours at home,” Ms Finnie said.
“We started this trial as part of our programme to run more sustainable events. It was a huge undertaking – with more than a year’s work going into finding manufacturers and suppliers of a compostable product, providing education workshops for food vendors, organising the dozens of waste sorters at the event, and educating the public on what we were trying to do.
The Sparks event was the most successful, with 75 per cent of its total waste diverted from landfill (compared to 51 % last year), the Christchurch Lantern Festival had 58% of waste diverted from landfill (up from 22% last year), and the Night Noodle Markets had 61% of waste diverted from landfill (no results were available from the previous year).
Christchurch organisation Our Daily Waste were contracted to sort waste at both Sparks and the Christchurch Lantern Festival – the organisation specialises in providing recycling systems, having worked on more than 60 Canterbury events. Closed Loop, a North Island waste management company was contracted to do the Night Noodle Markets.
“Until now, we have not been able to put packaging and cutlery in the green bin or even recycling because they contain plastic coatings. In Christchurch our recycling and composting facilities don’t currently accept products with a plastic coating.
"We wanted to trial a range that didn’t have a plastic coating and see just what difference it would make to the amount of waste going to landfill at events,” Ms Finnie said. The range of plant-based products for the trial was sourced from Ecoware, New Zealand’s only carboNZero certified packaging company.
The closed areas of the events made for a great trial setting, and the trial had attracted interest from across Australasia. The materials collected were processed at the Christchurch City Council Organics facility in Bromley, operated by Living Earth. The other materials collected with bioplastic linings were also processed on a trial basis at Cultivate Waste, a local social enterprise.
Ms Finnie said Council was now looking into a phase two trial where around 30 events over the next 18 months would trial the compostable packaging.