[GRRN] event composting/recycling

Harold Leverenz (hlleverenz@ucdavis.edu)
Fri, 21 May 1999 23:19:16 -0700 (PDT)

For anyone who is interested...

I was recently involved in the planning and implementation of a waste
prevention plan for the Whole Earth Festival in Davis, CA. The
weekend-long event attendance was estimated to be greater than
30,000...with 16 food vendors, 100+ craft and service booths, and 3 stages
for entertainers.

Our objective was to design a system where all materials could be
composted, recycled, or reused. We worked closely with the festival food
vendors, asking them to follow a set of environmental guidelines when
serving food, such as:

- encouraging people to bring their own cups, bowls, and utensils,
- not providing anything that could not be composted or recycled
(including heavily waxed cups and non recyclable plastics),
- reducing the amount of material used (e.g. serving food on napkins
instead plates),
- and, using products manufactured with post consumer recycled materials.

We also required the use of biodegradable utensils and bags (there must be
a better term than 'trash bags'). Utensils and bags made from a
cornstarch polymer < http://www.biocorpusa.com/ > were pre-ordered and
distributed to the food vendors before the event, chopsticks were also
allowed as acceptable utensils.

Materials were collected in 30 stations, mostly located on the perimeter
of the event (for easier monitoring and collection). Three bins were
used: compost, glass, and recyclable (everything else). A group of
volunteers sorted the bins of recyclables on tables near one of the main
entrances, glass was kept separate because of safety concerns.

The overall diversion rate was just above 80%, with a composition of:

- 3650 kg - biodegradable (compost)
- 1850 kg - recyclable (plastic, aluminum, glass, cardboard)
- 1350 kg - waste

The waste fraction was primarily non-recyclable plastics and heavily waxed
products. The origin of waste is mostly from outside of the festival,
brought in by people attending the event and passers-by. The recyclables
were taken to the Davis MRF for recycling and redemption value. The
biodegradable materials are being co-composted with dairy manure at the
student farm, in a windrow about 30 meters long. After 2 weeks and
several turnings, materials are decomposing quickly.

The problems encountered with the system mainly relate to contamination in
the compost and recyclables bins (people did well with glass). The use of
a system for collecting materials that included compostables confused some
people, putting more energy into public education is one strategy for

I am interested in any comments/questions - Harry


Harold L Leverenz
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
University of California, Davis
(530) 759-0264