The challenges of good resource management are usually budget driven but could be further restricted by the weather conditions, the types of visitors on site, the events location and the site conditions. So it takes true innovation and a coordinated team effort to salvage as many materials and goods from an event and give them a new or extended life.
Innovation is required to plan and deliver a resource management solution that is simple, effective, targeted and manageable in its operation. I have always believed that if you put the right amount of collection containers into a responsive environment the waste generated can be easily contained. I think most individuals want to be responsible, have more time, have an opportunity to educate and involve the family and can see the benefits of a well organised separation and collection system. It was a momentous time in my event recycling career when I saw how the lovely folk of Beautiful Days Festival had responded to the new recycling system. I was so pleased with the results of the new collection system and how everyone had left their black bag waste in a neat pile next to the recycle stations. I have always thought this goal was possible and now I have seen that it can be done the bar has been set!
Innovation can be used to reduce the amount of waste that comes onto a site. This can be achieved through a well communicated environmental policy that will generally and directly control about half the waste generated by a festival. Reusable cups and refillable bottles have a significant effect on the reduction of waste generated over a weekend. Waste streams that are difficult to reuse or recycle should be discouraged from site and surplus food should be given away and not thrown away.
Innovation is needed to increase reuse of materials right across the site and create synergies within the event to promote reuse. Upcycling has always been a passion of mine and when Jeremy, the farm manager at Truck Festival agreed to take on the scrap metal generated from the event, on the condition that the cloth material was removed, low behold a new opportunity was born. We now strip camp furniture, mainly broken folding chairs and make bags from the material. A great synergy I was particularly pleased with last year was managing to match up two dustbin bags of bubble wrap generated from a backstage delivery and walked them across site to a grateful recipient who was selling pottery.
Innovation is required in identifying waste streams that could be separated for recycling and finding local disposal markets, especially when you consider the proximity principle in relation to generation and disposal of resources. Events are spread out across this Island we live on and yet if you travel twenty five miles away you are confronted with a different recycling program, and then if you move a further fifty miles away you not only have to deal with a different program but also your options on disposal can become an innovative challenge. I know for sure that the sanctuary Monkey World would take on blankets, pillows and duvets abandoned at festivals if we could get a transport company to support this worthy reuse and I am sure this is the tip of the ice berg.
Collection methods and processes need innovation to make them more efficient. This is especially difficult when the waste streams are manually handled, visually sorted and not always easy to identify. The problem is easily explained when you consider the hundreds of different plastics placed on the market that require identification and separation, it is some times easier to do this by products generated on site rather than by material type.
And finally products need innovation to deal with changing markets and trends. I still believe that zero waste at any event can achieved, we now have a range of products to support this and I also believe I have seen a glimpse of the future role of festivals, where innovation and reuse will be promoted to engage society and empower individuals to think outside the box.
Innovation wow! What are you like?
This guest blog was written by Chris Nowell at More Bins. Thanks Chris!