Zero waste approach to events impresses

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Gourmet Night Market. Photo/Supplied
Gourmet Night Market. Photo/Supplied

The Gourmet Night Market in Mount Maunganui has set an example to other event organisers around the country with its zero waste approach.

The event has a landfill diversion average of 97.6 per cent and event organisers and councils from all over the country have been calling event organiser Kim Renshaw to find out how she does it.

"In 2015, I received 15 phone calls from events wanting help to do what we do with our waste. I also was asked to speak at multiple events including the Sustainable Business Network regional meeting and the national Waste Management conference run by WasteMinz," Miss Renshaw said.

"In June I realised there was a need for an organisation to provide training and education to event organisers who wanted to improve their approach to waste as well as deliver the service to larger events."

Miss Renshaw said diverting event waste from landfill was pretty simple, but event organisers had previously not believed the effort was worth it.

She started Beyond the Bin, with a grant from social enterprise funder Toi Toi Manawa, designed to deliver training and education iwith local councils around New Zealand.

Beyond the Bin worked with waste service providers and composting facilities to establish whether or not composting event waste was possible in that area. Renshaw said 80 per cent of event waste was generally compostable, if different packaging choices were made by food vendors.

In late 2015, Beyond the Bin delivered the workshops as a pilot in Tauranga and Hastings.

Tauranga City Council resource recovery manager Rebecca Maiden said: "Their techniques and enthusiasm have seen a marked improvement in the diversion achieved at events they have trained in our city."

The average landfill diversion rate in events that have done the training in Tauranga hovers around the 90 per cent mark.

"90 per cent diversion is technically zero waste. We acknowledge that people bring things from home that contribute to the landfill waste stream, but it's the approach and commitment that generates a teeny amount of waste onsite at the event," Miss Renshaw said.

Beyond the Bin were talking to many councils in other areas of New Zealand that were interested in their training and education programme, Renshaw said the organisation needed to build capacity in 2016 to meet demand.

Gourmet Night Market has a team of 7 volunteer educators which help the public understand the concept.

Sam Gray, waste manager, said" "Educators are the key to the system working. It takes all the hassle out for the public, removing any frustration.

"Add to that it's a mandatory system at the Gourmet Night Market, so the vendors are only allowed to use approved packaging, this makes it a lot easier when everything you're holding in your hands can go in the compost bin."

Gourmet Night Market has diverted 2.1 tonnes of waste during its 2015/16 season so far. Four more events are planned for the rest of February and a special sustainability market on March 4 as part of Sustainable Backyards month.

What: Gourmet Night Market
When: Friday evenings 5pm - dark till March 4th
Where: Coronation Park, Mount Maunganui

- Bay of Plenty Times

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