Oct 11

Manchester Food & Drink Festival Recycling Roundup

It was the last day of the festival yesterday – and by far the best day I was working there. The sun was shining brightly, the entertainment was excellent… and a lovely lady from Earth Cafe gave me a plate of rice and stuff for my tea. Thanks Patricia!!

The site was full of people for most of the day and boy did they create a lot of waste!! It just occured to me now, all of the containers at the festival were disposable. Not 1 was reusable.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the containers:

Those great ‘I am not a plastic cup’ cups. What I did not like about them was this: They came in at least 3 different varieties. 1 said: ‘I am not a plastic cup’, 100% composible. 1 said 100% biodegradable, and a different message on the 3rd (can’t remember). Compostible and biodegradable are not the same. This is confusing. TBH I am not 100% convinced they are 100% compostible in the true sense of the word.

2 types of plastic cups as in ‘I am a plastic cup’.

Trays: Different types on every stall from paper plates, to card trays, to wood type plates(!!) to plastic chippy type trays. All with different properties, very confusing for the wannabe festival recycler.

Litter issues: A major source of litter, if not the main source, was created by the festival organisers themselves – flyers and programmes. The organisers had put fetival guides and flyers on all the tables and as soon as the wind got up which happened a few times they were blown everywhere. Yours truly would go round and clear them all (and put them in the ‘landfill only’ bin along with all the other stuff off the floor, the only practical course of action) then more would reappear on the tables only to be blown onto the floor. What a great promotional system for the festval!

I would like to say for the people at the festival they were all very friendly – I can hardly think of 1 exception, well this is Manchester. Also from what I could see they were all doing their level best to recycle. We had 3 types of bins. Compostibles, plastic cups and bottles and ‘landfill only’. Now, I would just like to say I thought our signage could have been better and I’ll leave it at that. However, despite the confusion due to container types and signage people were all attempting to put things in the correct bin.

Improvements: I would move recycling up the agenda of the festival. (It is better than ‘Pride’ though where all the waste goes to landfill, I am told on good authority).

I would integrate recycling into the fabric of the festival. In practical terms this would mean something like: Making sure all the cups were made of the same material, that 100% compostible stuff – yes please!! All the food containers were made of recycled and recyclable/compostible material, the same material (make them different shapes if you like for branding purposes), same for knives, forks, chopsticks etc – standardised, easily recyclable material. Very clearly labelled bins. No flyers all over the tables!! I bet if they did these few simple things they could achieve a near 100% recycling rate.

OK so some of the vendors would not be happy (what about our disposable wooden plates – people love those, It makes them feel like they are in Thailand!!) and the council might have to shell out a bit to put these measures in place – hence the need for recycling being near the top of the agenda.

I think if people realised the amount of waste that was produced at the fesival and the council were accountable some measures like this would surely come into place. It is 2010, I was reading about landfill mining earlier, this is not rocket science people.


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