On the zero-waste path

Founder of 'Beyond The Bin' on mission to reduce our waste.

Founder of 'Beyond The Bin' on mission to reduce our waste.

ZERO-WASTE: Kim Renshaw is on a mission to get every festival and event in the country involved in "zero-waste". While completely cutting out waste is often not possible, it is about identifying best practice in a given situation and working towards that, she says. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

PLATES and bowls made out of potatoes, cups from plants, and recycling stations for everything else.

“That is what we should be working towards at events and festivals,” said Kim Renshaw, founder of Beyond The Bin, an initiative to encourage other event managers to ascribe to the “zero-waste” vision.

Tauranga-based Ms Renshaw began her zero-waste path through running a gourmet night market in the Bay. She introduced a system where all waste produced at the market had to be compostable.

Through her work people around the country caught on and hired her to help them minimise their festival waste, including managing WOMAD’s waste system.

As her work grew in popularity she created an organisation to help others reduce their waste, and she has been travelling around the country running workshops ever since.

For Ms Renshaw it is about running enjoyable events and festivals, while minimising the waste footprint, which can improve the experience.

“Zero-waste events give people pride in their events," she said.

“If you go to an event and there is no recycling, just landfill, it can make you feel a bit stink. But if you have got a place you can recycle it, or are using a compostable system, it can enhance the vibes.”

Huge opportunities

In the land of Rhythm and Vines and Wine and Food Gisborne has immense opportunities to implement such systems, Ms Renshaw said.

She was in Gisborne earlier this month for a seminar on how local events organisers can reduce their waste produce, and discussed what methods are locally relevant.

“For example looking at what gets composted locally, what gets recycled, what best practice is and then figuring out what the minimum ‘best practice’ is.

“In Gisborne the biggest thing is it is really isolated. Not only does the waste have embedded energy in the product created, but embedded energy in the way it is disposed of.

“Recycling goes out of town, then from there it is getting baled and shipped internationally, whereas a compostable product, that is suitable, could potentially be done locally.”

Closed-loop recycling

Other areas to look into include “closed-loop recycling”, which encourages and enables communities to create things out of waste.

With various anti-waste movements going on around the world, Ms Renshaw believes “zero-waste” is becoming increasingly popular.

“We are definitely becoming a more conscious society. With access to technology people are seeing what's going on in other countries and are demanding similar things happen here.”

In San Francisco there are laws to encourage compostable and recyclable products. France more recently banned disposable plastic cups, plates and cutlery.

“People are asking why we can’t do that here. Festival organisers are also realising it's their responsibility to do something with waste.”

She says compostable coffee cups, and plates made from things such as potato starch, are “going crazy”.

It is all in relative terms though.

“In some of those places overseas they have millions of people, so setting up systems to deal with compostable waste is worth it financially.

Commercial facility

“It has to be done where there is a commercial composting facility.

“It depends on the shredder, the volume, how often it is turned, how hot it gets, the filters then where the compost is going to be used.

“Paper and cardboard don’t make beautiful compost, but it is still a great way of processing that kind of waste.”

Her aim is to have waste systems consistent throughout the country among events and while the potential is exciting, she is also concerned about a lack of standards.

“Any product could say it is compostable and biodegradable. Some meet international standards, but we don’t have our own standard.”

Regardless, she said there is traction and “zero-waste” attitudes are picking up all over New Zealand.

“In five years I think you won’t be able to go to an event, anywhere in New Zealand, and not see recycling, and there will be more composting as well.”

PLATES and bowls made out of potatoes, cups from plants, and recycling stations for everything else.

“That is what we should be working towards at events and festivals,” said Kim Renshaw, founder of Beyond The Bin, an initiative to encourage other event managers to ascribe to the “zero-waste” vision.

Tauranga-based Ms Renshaw began her zero-waste path through running a gourmet night market in the Bay. She introduced a system where all waste produced at the market had to be compostable.

Through her work people around the country caught on and hired her to help them minimise their festival waste, including managing WOMAD’s waste system.

As her work grew in popularity she created an organisation to help others reduce their waste, and she has been travelling around the country running workshops ever since.

For Ms Renshaw it is about running enjoyable events and festivals, while minimising the waste footprint, which can improve the experience.

“Zero-waste events give people pride in their events," she said.

“If you go to an event and there is no recycling, just landfill, it can make you feel a bit stink. But if you have got a place you can recycle it, or are using a compostable system, it can enhance the vibes.”

Huge opportunities

In the land of Rhythm and Vines and Wine and Food Gisborne has immense opportunities to implement such systems, Ms Renshaw said.

She was in Gisborne earlier this month for a seminar on how local events organisers can reduce their waste produce, and discussed what methods are locally relevant.

“For example looking at what gets composted locally, what gets recycled, what best practice is and then figuring out what the minimum ‘best practice’ is.

“In Gisborne the biggest thing is it is really isolated. Not only does the waste have embedded energy in the product created, but embedded energy in the way it is disposed of.

“Recycling goes out of town, then from there it is getting baled and shipped internationally, whereas a compostable product, that is suitable, could potentially be done locally.”

Closed-loop recycling

Other areas to look into include “closed-loop recycling”, which encourages and enables communities to create things out of waste.

With various anti-waste movements going on around the world, Ms Renshaw believes “zero-waste” is becoming increasingly popular.

“We are definitely becoming a more conscious society. With access to technology people are seeing what's going on in other countries and are demanding similar things happen here.”

In San Francisco there are laws to encourage compostable and recyclable products. France more recently banned disposable plastic cups, plates and cutlery.

“People are asking why we can’t do that here. Festival organisers are also realising it's their responsibility to do something with waste.”

She says compostable coffee cups, and plates made from things such as potato starch, are “going crazy”.

It is all in relative terms though.

“In some of those places overseas they have millions of people, so setting up systems to deal with compostable waste is worth it financially.

Commercial facility

“It has to be done where there is a commercial composting facility.

“It depends on the shredder, the volume, how often it is turned, how hot it gets, the filters then where the compost is going to be used.

“Paper and cardboard don’t make beautiful compost, but it is still a great way of processing that kind of waste.”

Her aim is to have waste systems consistent throughout the country among events and while the potential is exciting, she is also concerned about a lack of standards.

“Any product could say it is compostable and biodegradable. Some meet international standards, but we don’t have our own standard.”

Regardless, she said there is traction and “zero-waste” attitudes are picking up all over New Zealand.

“In five years I think you won’t be able to go to an event, anywhere in New Zealand, and not see recycling, and there will be more composting as well.”

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