ACTION 6

INTRODUCE A COMPOSTING STREAM (OPTIONAL)

In this action you will incorporate a composting stream (food & packaging) with materials sent to the correct processing facility, as part of your waste management plan.

This is an optional action not included in our Champion program, though it is quite achievable if you are already creating a plastic free event. ​Note that composting only works as part of good waste management program. If you would like assistance to implement a waste management program, we can recommend services to help. Please contact us.

It is important to note a few things when deciding to undertake composting. Firstly, will need to manage the plastic free program carefully because the chance of contamination in your compost stream is high. You will need to ensure vendor compliance with zero tolerance is written in event policy and communicated to your vendors. You should also limit vendor product choices to a defined list or be involved in product procurement. You will also need to be involved in monitoring and potentially decontaminating your waste stream. We will cover these actions below, but it is important you recognise the commitment upfront. 

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Here are the steps:

1  planning for your waste

Waste management is very important and should be considered upfront, not as an afterthought. If you already have a current waste plan (a current waste management plan is required by Byron Council as part of your event permit), we encourage you to use the information below to expand it to include composting. If you do not yet have a plan, you can create this using Council's Guidelines for Event Organisers, or access Council's assistance to create it and further resources to help you implement it. Click here to access this service

In the section 2 below,  you will find some information on setting up your waste/ composting system. Generally, composting is not well covered in current waste management plan guidelines so this additional information to include in your plan will be helpful. 

2  planning & setting up your composting/waste system

Here is short video from www.beyondthebin.org.nz to get you started on thinking about your waste system. It covers:

  • how to identify what kind of waste your event will produce

  • what kind of infrastructure you’ll need to deal with those types of waste

Note that the video does not explain how to calculate the number of bins you need - but you can find some advice on this below. 

For larger events, we recommend the use of a waste manager or contractor - they can handle all of the logistics for you. If your event is smaller, assign someone from your team to handle the waste and ensure these tasks are done.

Determining how many bins you need and mapping them

Bins should be placed together as waste stations so that people are given identical choices at each location, which encourages correct bin use and minimises contamination. Each station should have three bins (compost, general recycling and general waste) - add a fourth bin if you are doing a container collection. Most events will utilise standard (kerbside) 240L wheelie bins. If your event is small, you may get away with only these, but if your event is larger, you may additionally need to hire a skip for each waste stream and periodically empty your wheelie bins into them (remember if lining your compostable bins you will need compostable bin liners).

In general, expect a minimum of one litre of compostable waste per person per meal, less if you are utilising reusable foodware and other waste management strategies.

As an example:

  • 1,000 people x 1 meal time = 1,000 litres of estimated food and foodware waste

  • Divide 1,000 by 240 litres (a standard bin) = 4 composting bins

 

As each compost bin should be accompanied by a recycling and general waste bin, this means 4 bin stations of 1 x compost, 1 x waste and 1 x recycle bin each.

You can reduce the number of bin stations by servicing your bins throughout the event – especially those near food outlets. This will require monitoring to swap bins out when required. Have a good number of bins back of house that can be swapped out. Ensure you have enough staff or volunteers to alert when bins are full (you can use Waste Warriors for this - we describe them in section 4) and enough staff to service them. Bins taken back-of-house can be emptied into a skip, rinsed and left free to be swapped out again. 

Mapping the locations of your bins is a good idea and this short video by www.beyondthebin.org.nz is a good guide on how to do this. It covers:

  • why where you put your bins matters

  • how to lay out your site logically in terms of waste

  • why more isn’t always more with bins​

We recommend bin stations be placed:

  •  at event entry and exit points (so attendees see available options for disposal when they arrive)

  •  at accessible points that coincide with the movement of people

  •  away from where there are likely to be queues, so they are not an obstruction

  •  for the convenience of the user rather than just the collector

  •  where they can be effectively emptied and serviced.

Sourcing bins and setting up your waste transport system

If you hire a waste contractor to manage your waste, they will likely organise your collection and provide you one quote which includes all waste services. This is an option worth considering to make it easy for you.

For a commercial composting option, Byron Council is able to arrange the delivery and pickup of the bins for you - you can find pricing here. If you choose to use Council to service your event bins, you can arrange it with Council’s Resource Recovery office on 1300 652 625.

 

There are also private providers who can offer this service for you and it may be worth discussing a quote with several providers. Most of them will provide the bins for you. Check that they are also able to provide a composting service as composting commercially is still relatively new and not all service providers are set up to offer this as yet.  

For most events you will need to commercially compost. In Byron, the closest commercial composter is is the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre. You will not need to contact them directly, rather your waste transport provider will make these arrangements for you as part of their service. 

If your event is very small (i.e only a few bags of compostable material) and you have managed your packaging stream so that the materials are home compostable, you may be able access a community gardens or local compost co-op.

3  ensure your vendors are doing the right thing

Your vendors will be the biggest factor in the success of your composting stream. If you've covered our modules on Planning for Success and Action 1 - Plastic Free Vendors, then you already have this in hand!

But just to recap (and worth checking at this point if you can tick off the bases):

1.  Create a clear event policy and enforce it

a) The policy requires vendors to only use reusable or 100% compostable items​ (make clear that often overlooked  items like sugar, salt, and sauce sachets are included in this)

b) There is a zero tolerance for non compliance, with clearly outlined consequences

c) The event organiser may choose to limit vendor product choices or procure products on behalf of vendors​

2. Ensure your vendors know what is going on and what is expected from them​​

3. Have back up options ready

4  signage & information

Signage is important. We often hear from events in retrospect they should have used more, so err on the side of more if you can. 

The most effective signage at bin stations is to use full bin covers in combination with signage behind the bin stations that shows the exact packaging being used at the event (another reason to control vendor packaging). ​Council can assist with bin signage - click here to access this service

Ensure you also include signage on all back-of-house bins - below are some options you can print and use. 

Downloadable signage (.pdf). To download, right click and 'download linked file'. 

We also recommend that you place volunteers or paid staff (Waste Warriors) at each bin station to communicate your message and educate your patrons on which bin to choose. Many people are not familiar with composting and the tendency is to default to the recycling or general waste streams. The other advantage of this is that they can ensure timely collection of full bins and, if you are collecting containers to redeem under the Return & Earn Scheme, to help to ensure containers are put in your collection bin. 

If you can pay staff to do this, you will have a greater uptake of dedicated people you can rely on. If you choose however, you can access volunteers through local environment groups like Surfrider Foundation and Positive Change who have a large volunteer base. If you access volunteers this way, consider making a donation to the group. You will need to provide some words and a photo to send - here is a template volunteer call to help you write this up. 

Be prepared that some volunteers will not show, so try to source extra. We recommend shifts of 5 hours or less for volunteers and offering them a free ticket to the event and a even meal in exchange for their participation. We also recommend sourcing T-shirts to identify them, which they could be allowed to keep. Waste warriors will need to be trained - we may be able to offer this service for a training fee (contact us to request this).

This short video by www.beyondthebin.org.nz is a good

guide on volunteers and will help you to:

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  • find a great team of waste volunteers

  • effective communication techniques

  • how to look after your volunteers

  • how to keep volunteers coming back again and again

5  communication and promotion

These are important aspects and we cover them in detail in Action 5 - Communications. Most people are not accustomed to composting so you will need to include this education to help keep your compost stream clean. Ensure you include information and signage for staff, volunteers, vendors and the public in your communications plan.

 post-event waste audit

Coming soon

MAKE THE SWITCH IS AN INITIATIVE OF

UNDER THE 'PLASTIC FREE PLACES' PROGRAM