Ecoware Environmental Initiative in Christchurch an Outstanding Success
It was a bold but trailblazing decision from Christchurch City Council to decide to aim for zero waste. The environmental trial took place early in the year and proved to be an outstanding success.
The Garden City hosts several major events over the summer every year at Hagley Park, attracting 190,000 people. With this many attendees, it’s easy to imagine the volume of food and drink required at these events and the inevitable amount of waste left behind when the fun is over.
The easiest solution is to pick up and dispose of the forsaken waste in one gigantic heap, no discrimination between glass, food or plastic. The clean up is quick and everyone can go home before they know it. But the value of reuse is lost.
When organic waste (food and food packaging waste) is composted in optimal conditions, natural biodegradation will occur, leaving behind a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be used to assist the growth of next-generation plants; a completely sustainable economy. Plants are turned back to the soil they came from.
When organic waste is condemned to landfill, the result is often fugitive methane that escapes into the atmosphere, acting as the world’s biggest contributor to global warming. Currently, there is an absence of specificity in our legislation requiring council level composting. Therefore, it’s simply too easy for the all-encompassing pick-up and drop-off to landfill to occur.
This is where Councils have an opportunity to influence the sustainable development of a community. When councils lead by example to show the public a commitment to a more sustainable agenda, they will encourage positive change. Taking those initial steps is the hardest bit, but Christchurch City Council proved to be bold, and by partnering with like-minded organisations, they took the lead in becoming the first New Zealand major City Council to strive for zero waste events. As a result, there is now a growing expectation for more Councils to follow suit.
So what exactly does “zero-waste” involve? A critical element of the success was sourcing packaging and cutlery that was 100% commercially compostable in a BioGro certified composting facility to achieve landfill diversion. After assessing all options, the Council decided to partner with Ecoware, the country’s only carboNZero certified packaging company.
Ecoware was made the exclusive food packaging supplier for all food vendors at the events. Ecoware’s biodegradable and compostable packaging had been pre-approved by a local composting facility and provided a sustainable alternative to traditional oil-based products, without compromise on quality or performance.
Up until now, commercial composting facilities in Christchurch would not accept food packaging waste in their collection, because of the risk of contamination of their high grade organic certified compost.
A local composting facility could not accept any PLA bioplastic as it lacks the ability to gain BioGro certification, so Ecoware in conjunction with the Council came up with a different solution and set out to develop a range of products which were compostable, could hold liquid and sauces, and have no bioplastic lining. Our kraft tableware range made from thick kraft board was the answer.
Christchurch City Council Manager of Events and Arts, Karena Finnie said “It has been a huge success – in the case of one of the events, the amount of waste diverted from landfill more than doubled this year.
We had fantastic feedback from the public in terms of their support for what we were doing.” Not only did the events see a significant improvement in waste diversion from landfill, but surveys conducted on the day also gave some optimistic insight. Of those who completed the survey, 89% of respondents thought that environmental sustainability initiatives at events were a good thing. More importantly, 33% of those who were aware of the zero-waste trial said that seeing compostable food packaging in action would change their recycling and composting behaviours at home. This rearms everything the trial and partnership was aiming to achieve. Demonstrating environmental commitment at Council level to encourage positive change within the community.
The Council is now looking into a phase two trial where approximately 30 events over the next 18 months would trial the compostable packaging.
Now that the ball is rolling, awareness can only increase and more event attendees will make an effort to dispose of their waste correctly. So how do we improve to ensure success? Ecoware will continue to advance their range to provide exceptional products for a wider range of food vendors. The Council will continue to invest the time and energy into diverting waste from landfill and educating the public. Ecoware couldn’t be more pleased with the success of the trial. Established only 6 years ago, assisting Christchurch City Council was a milestone but just a scratch on the surface of what they are working towards. Bigger things are on the horizon. Ecoware is here and ready to partner with the daring trailblazers striving for positive change and a more sustainable future.