GEELONG Sustainability members say they learnt a lot from their first waste-wise event, the National Celtic Festival (NCF) at Portarlington on the weekend.
The group assembled a wash against waste kit from community-donated mugs and support from Barwon South West Waste and Resource Recovery Group and City of Greater Geelong.
Geelong Sustainability (GS) president and Green Team coordinator Vicki Perrett said the public response was overwhelmingly positive – “people were genuinely impressed and grateful for the free service”.
“The breadth of engagement was wide and very encouraging,” Ms Perrett said.
“From council officers from other regions who lamented not having a similar group to GS in their region, to other event organisers who wanted us to help them, to vendors who wanted us to go on the circuit with them to the general public.
“Far and wide, people are keen to manage their waste better if they know how.”
Ms Perrett said director Una McAlinden and her team worked with GS in the months before the festival to develop these initiatives.
“We all understood that there would be lots to learn from this first waste-wise event,” she said. “NCF even made sustainability the theme for its festival limerick contest.”
Ms Perrett said most food vendors cooperated and worked with GS to offer people washable plates, cutlery and cups.
“Virtually all food vendors came with cardboard rather than single-use plastic packaging. A few had plastic cutlery while others had bamboo.”
Ms Perrett said the key waste reduction statistics were: GS’ green team of 26 volunteers worked more than 300 hours; wash against waste process resulted in 2,520 plates and 1,350 mugs being washed and sanitised; 840 non-recyclable cups were collected and will be reprocessed using the innovative technique being pioneered by Closed Loop Aust, which will separate the cardboard outer from polyethylene liner.
Volunteers also decontaminated the contents of the many yellow-lidded recycling bins so that the recyclables could be successfully reprocessed.
Ms Perrett said the festival gave GS valuable insight into people’s understanding (and lack thereof) about recycling.
She said festivals and community events provided an excellent opportunity to engage and re-educate people about vital matters like waste minimisation.