This process has been tested many times now by Climate Wave Enterprises on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia and not only is it an effective way of dealing with a waste/resource component of your event it is a great way of building community relationships.
One of the sustainable event management practices is aiming for zero waste. We know absolute zero is impossible but aiming for a high percentage of diversion from landfill is optimal.
Firstly a policy is needed that states 'this event is single use plastic free' and that policy needs to be distributed to all involved and individual understanding of that policy must be recognised.
Partnering with community gardens will provide processing and composting for compostable catering products from your event. The wonderful people at the gardens will happily participate once you can show them case studies and that the material won't attract rats. Also if the event invites them with a free stall space where they can provide free advice & plants for the welcoming attendees is a great way of getting them on board.
According to most sources of information compostable catering materials including PLA, sugarcane, cardboard, bamboo etc. can only be properly broken down in an industrial composter. These materials are always preferable to single use plastic but the ideal system is to utilise reusables.
Eco Angels or Bin Fairies are a vital component of this system, they can guide people with proper waste disposal and local waste station sorting, so contamination of bins won’t occur and saves time sorting. The level of waste education is high with attendees very open to learn & appreciate the system.
Event attendees are a captured audience who can be educated on waste, reuse and recycling which is extremely beneficial in the war on waste and they will share this directly into networks in other communities which will bring greater awareness of sustainable events and waste reduction.
Then the material is taken to an onsite sorting area and with meticulous hand picking through each bin to divert the final waste streams to their correct categories will allow for perfectly clean compost. The garden will generally take the resource with them after the event which will reduce cartage fees which reducing costs is always appealing to event organisers.
Compostables can be put through a simple branch grinder/shredder which breaks down the material into smaller pieces but is not necessary for the system to work. The material is then spread in layers adding green waste over a 2 metre. sq. compost stall and watered to gain the correct consistency.
The stalls need to be large and deep to bring the compost temperature to above 54 degrees and turned once a month for optimal break down, after only 4 moves the compostable materials will be disintegrated.
If you have done your own research with composting from events and would like to share, please comment.
Also if you have your own case studies or how to guides please share 🙂