BioCycle June 2011, Vol. 52, No. 6, p. 38
Event collaborators and cooperative participants made collection of recyclables and compostables a successful venture pointing the way to a zero waste event.
THE concept of zero waste is to eliminate waste through resource recovery and to redesign, rethink and reduce the potential for waste. To this end, representatives from BioCycle, Zero Waste San Diego, and the Town & Country Resort Hotel in San Diego collaborated to design the 2011 BioCycle Global Conference as an event where all discards could be composted or recycled.
Prior to the Conference, held on April 11-14, plans were made with the Town & Country catering manager to serve all food and beverage items in reusable china and glass, and for all foodstuffs including condiments to be provided in bulk instead of individually wrapped. For the bagged lunch portion of the event, arrangements were made with a deli to provide compostable paper wrappings for all sandwiches.
When planning a zero waste event it is essential to have the participation of the trade show exhibitors. The BioCycle Global exhibitors were notified of the conference’s zero waste objective and provided a list of Zero Waste and Recycling Requirements for planning purposes. On the day of the exhibition hall set-up, two representatives from Zero Waste San Diego spoke with each exhibitor about the zero waste stations available to them in the exhibit hall and answered any questions.
SIX ZERO WASTE STATIONS
The only receptacles allowed throughout the BioCycle Global Conference venue were six zero waste stations. Three were placed in the exhibit hall, one in the foyer at registration, one outside of the conference session rooms and one in the kitchen. Each station comprised a green receptacle for organics, a blue receptacle for recycling and a black receptacle for other discards. Each receptacle was clearly marked with a sign stating compost, recycle or waste, and depicting materials appropriate for each container with both example pictures and labels. Furthermore, each receptacle was lined with a clear bag so that the contents in each container could be clearly viewed to prevent contamination. Each receptacle had 10 correspondingly colored ribbons tied to them for the Town and Country janitorial staff to tie to each bag as it was removed for identification purposes.
Over the course of the conference, a Zero Waste San Diego representative monitored all of the zero waste stations and worked closely with the Town & Country catering and janitorial staff.
Occasional intervention and training for staff was necessary to keep conventional single-use products such as individually-wrapped jellies and coffee creamers from being offered to attendees and entering the discard stream. During the conference sessions, attendees were asked to be mindful of appropriate material segregation at the zero waste stations.
On a regular schedule all full or half-full receptacle bags were collected and brought to the zero waste weigh station. Twice daily Zero Waste San Diego weighed and recorded all materials collected at the zero waste stations. A total of 406.5 lbs. of materials were collected (Table 1).
BioCycle’s recyclables and trash were added to the venue’s existing recycling and trash stream. Since the Town & Country Resort is not currently collecting organics on a regular basis, the compostables were stored in a 96-gallon toter and delivered to the City of San Diego’s Greenery composting facility on the final morning of the conference. The Greenery was the first stop on an all-day conference tour. Attendees looked on while a City of San Diego and a Zero Waste San Diego representative unpacked and sorted the organics collected at the conference. Event attendees did a good job of keeping the organics stream free of noncompostable contaminants; only a few foil tea wrappers, plastic coffee cup lids and candy bar wrappers needed to be removed by hand.
Total diversion at the BioCycle Global 2011 Conference was 89 percent. Thank you to all the exhibitors and attendees who took the time to sort their materials at the zero waste stations. Thank you Zero Waste San Diego volunteers and to the City of San Diego staff at the Miramar Greenery. And, thank you to the catering and janitorial staff of the Town and Country Resort whose cooperation and participation was crucial for achieving BioCycle’s zero waste objective.
Laura McIntire (email@example.com) coordinated the design and implementation of the zero waste program at the BioCycle Global 2011 Conference in San Diego in April.