Collecting Food Scraps at Events – how To

Families looking for fun on the September Long Weekend often head to the Armstrong Fair, a British Columbian’s favourite occasion to enjoy the country atmosphere in downtown Armstrong, B.C. A tradition that attracts over 150,000 attendees with over 2,000 exhibitors, there are various events to attend that excite people of all ages such as the Rodeo Tour finals, lumberjack show, mini chuckwagon race, fair parade, and more.

Focusing on fun and family usually involves food – and lots of it. With the ever-growing challenge of managing food waste at events, food scrap diversion and organic waste separation at large outdoor events is an important but challenging task to implement. Exhibitors and attendees need the proper education to ensure that contamination, like plastic forks and pop cans, stay out of the organic collection bins. Events that choose to “go green” tend to hire volunteers responsible for monitoring waste separation bins to act as the “waste helpers” ensuring everyone places their trash, recyclables, or food scraps into the correct bins.

How important is it?

In B.C. alone, organic waste represents 40% of material that is sent to landfills. Preventing and diverting organic waste from entering landfills has various benefits such as saving landfill space, nutrients, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

The Armstrong Fair acknowledges the benefits of diverting food scraps from landfill. Since 2015, the fair has implemented an organic waste diversion strategy in partnership with Spa Hills Compost. Spa Hills Compost, an organic waste hauling service and composting facility, is the ultimate green waste-reduction solution in the local community. By collecting food waste and other organic material from businesses and homes, they transport food scraps, that would otherwise head to landfill, and make chemical-free compost fertilizer with it. Along with using the compost where they farm, they also sell finished compost too.

Challenge

Food scrap diversion programs require the right products and people to get the job done. When food scrap diversion programs are implemented, waste generators such as fair attendees need to be aware that there is a program in place. Having a designated hauler to transport the organic waste, and a local composting facility to process the organic waste are required for any program to operate. To further help a major event strive toward their zero waste goals, products to contain and transport food scraps that are compliant with composting standards are also necessary for a successful and fully operational program.

Solution

Spa Hills Compost was the perfect partner for the Armstrong Fair to get the program running during the four-day event. But without the proper products in place, fair attendees and exhibitors would not be able to keep up with the waste separation process if organic bins aren’t monitored or consistently dumped to keep up with the fair’s waste demands.

To ensure the right-sized bins were in place without experiencing any leaks or mess, Spa Hills Compost reached out to EcoSafe Zero Waste, a solutions-based company on a mission to divert food scraps from landfills and reduce single-use plastics through their certified compostable products. An EcoSafe EcoCaddy 6-gallon bin and a certified compostable bin liner was provided as the perfect product to help Spa Hills to get started. Each exhibitor was provided a bin with Spa Hills responsible for swapping the bins once they were full. By using EcoSafe® bins and compostable liners, fair attendees and exhibitors experienced a seamless event without witnessing over-stuffed bins or stinky food leftovers that is commonly seen at events.

Each exhibitor’s organic bin was monitored and continuously emptied before getting full thanks to the volunteers from Girl Guides of Canada. The “compost crew” was a dedicated team that helped ensure exhibitors were keeping plastic out of their bins. By receiving proper training from Spa Hills Compost, the volunteers knew how and when to swap EcoCaddies full of food scraps with freshly lined and clean EcoCaddies to keep the program running successfully during the event.

“The caddies and Ecosafe compostable bags were the perfect system for the IPE. Food waste can be quite heavy, so the 23-liter caddies ensured that they didn’t overwhelm the volunteers and the bags kept the vendor areas nice and fresh, avoiding smells and pests for the entire event.”

Keli Westgate, Marketing Manager at Spa Hills Compost

Along with supplying the compost service, Spa Hills also set up an informational booth at the event to educate fair exhibitors and attendees about the importance of diverting food scraps.

Results to date

Each year, the Armstrong Fair measures their environmental impact. In 2015, the first year of running the organics program, Armstrong Fair reported that 1,250 lbs of organic waste were diverted from landfills. In 2017, 10,251 lbs of organic waste were collected and diverted. They set a new record in 2018! And, at the most recent event, the amount of organic waste doubled with 20,668 lbs of organic waste diverted from landfills in 2019 – that’s almost as much as 8 Honda Fits.

Conclusion

Compliant and certified compostable products from EcoSafe® are favoured by haulers and waste generators alike and are the perfect match to help reduce waste during major events and festivals. To keep organic bins fresh, sparkling clean, and give haulers or volunteers an easy way to transport food scraps that are typically heavy, the strong and leak-proof compostable bags from EcoSafe® are the perfect match for large events such as Armstrong Fair. By providing hauling services and events with the right products, volunteers and events can flawlessly divert food waste without contamination in sight. How can EcoSafe help tackle your hauling challenge?