Waste collection took center stage at the New Westminster Uptown Live outdoor music festival. A new sponsor meant a chance to try something new with waste reduction. The event organizers teamed up with sponsors and suppliers to work towards a zero waste approach to the festivities. It’s part of a region-wide shift to food recycling programs, which are expected to help push waste diversion rates well above the 60% total achieved in 2013.
The streets in downtown New Westminster are blocked off for a party that’s all about food, fun and live music.
“Uptown live is a street party,” explains festival director Douglas Smith. “We started it about 3 years ago, it’s similar to the Khatsalano festival on 4th avenue in Vancouver. It’s just a lot of fun. It’s built around the music and we’ve got such great music in BC.”
This year one of the event sponsors wanted to try something new.
“Vancity approached us this year and said ‘we want to be involved but we definitely want you to partner with Green Chair Events and Recycling Alternatives and make Uptown Live a zero waste event,'” explains Smith.
What would normally be considered garbage is now being sorted and recycled. Smith explains how they do it.
“In the kiosks, the six kiosks that are set up around the event, you can put waste in different compartments. It’s put in to plastic bags, when they get filled we take them backstage to our sorting area (and) they go through everything so some may be compost, some may be paper, bottles, cans, recyclables, everything. It’s broken down and then diverted.”
When the public is unsure of which bins to use a volunteer is available to help them. The whole experience is one Doug Smith believes other events can emulate.
“All events should take a look at themselves and say you know what, what are we doing in terms of waste management? How can we do this better and how much do we really care about the environment? It’s an important question because events leave a lot of waste and the city of New West has been great as well, they’ve worked with us. They’re partnering to make this happen and do it properly.”
“We’re going to continue this initiative for as long as possible, I think its the way to go,” adds Smith. “It shows the attendees that we care about keeping the site clean and that we care about where all this waste is going.”
The waste reduction efforts proved to be very successful. A total of 93% of the event’s waste was diverted from the landfill.