Panel 9: Waste Management

Evaluating Sustainable Practices at Christchurch City Council Events: Analysis of Waste Diversion and Event Attendees Perceptions of Compostable Service Ware Initiatives

Plastic Debris: Recycling Options for Closing the Loop

Pollutants, Polymers and Pigments: The Material Contingencies of PET Bottles

Addressing the Issue of Bio-Material Contamination in Commercial Composting

Click Here for this Presentation

Comments 3

  1. Hi Emma,

    Thank you very much for your presentation. It is interesting to see there are projects to engage people to recycle and, create awareness among the stakeholders.

    Two questions arose for me from your presentation:

    1) Regarding the results, I’m curious about how was the waste collection in this type of events before the initiative. You comment that there is a 61% diversion of waste, does it mean that the 61% of the garbage that used to go to landfill is now recycled or composted, or did all the waste go to landfilling before that project? Also, I would like to know if you measure the rate of waste that was placed in the correct bin.

    2) You also talk about the problem with PLA for composting. Did the composting site find more challenges with the other compostable ware-items? I’m aware that these type of items have specific temperature and humidity conditions that must not match with the composting facilities. Did these items were though for that facility in particular? If not, which problems did you find and how did you solve (or plan to solve) them?

    Thank you in advance,

    Isabel Cañete

    1. Hi Isabel,

      Thank you so much for listening to my presentation and also for your great questions!

      In regards to 1) I’m not sure if this would apply to every single event in Christchurch but there probably would have been three separate bins (landfill, organics and recycling) for events like this and the public would make the decision of which one to use for each piece of waste they had. Alternatively, some events may have only had landfill bins for ease of management. Therefore, with no other waste minimisation strategy such as the trial initiative I have talked about, diversion rates would be very low in the past.

      A diversion rate by definition is the percentage of total waste volume from an event that is diverted away from landfill to some other more sustainable waste stream (recycling or composting). So it’s not really a comparative statistic to what may have been done before. However, two of the events had been measured in relation to diversion rates last year. Sparks achieved 51% and the Christchurch Lantern Festival had 22%. Both events dramatically improved their diversion rates this year with the waste minimisation strategy put in place by the Christchurch City Council, increasing to 75% and 58% respectively.

      Unfortunately, there was no measurement of the rate of waste placed into the right bin. This process would be extremely time and cost intensive. For these trial events, there were multiple barriers in place to minimise the level of contamination in any of the bins. The signage, bin-site volunteers and waste-sorters are something we believe made a significant positive impact on the success of the trial. Only one recycling skip was rejected due to contamination over the entire trial (contamination refers to a skip with too much landfill or non-recyclables in a recycling skip etc.) which is our only real indication of success for sorting. The organics skips were very successful with little contamination no rejected skips.

      2) As far as I’m aware, the composting facility had no other issues with our organic waste volumes. The trial ensured that all items used for food packaging in the trial would be able to compost. Initial tests were done in advance to ensure the cardboard trays etc. would compost appropriately and these tests came back positive, therefore enabling the Council to persevere with the project. Any items that would not be compostable needed to find another sustainable solution (recyclable, reusable or remove all together). These are things that were worked through with food vendors at the workshop held in November before the trials. On-site audit checks were also done to make sure all packaging on-site was part of the approved range.

      The PLA issue, as I said, is one that is being worked on in Christchurch at the moment. All fingers are crossed for a solution that allows us to use PLA products and have them composted. But if not, there will be investigation into alternatives until there is a facility available to compost PLA.

      I hope this answers your question Isabel. I really appreciate your engagement with this project. The Christchurch City Council has produced an information booklet describing this trial in more detail,. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail and I can arrange postage for you

      Emma McCone

      1. Hi Emma,
        Thanks for an interesting presentation. I was especially interested to hear about the issues with PLA plastics as my Christchurch company supplies paper straws to eateries in NZ and often gets asked about PLA. The paper straws will be part of the next phase of the CCC trial. I’d love to talk about this more with you if you’ve time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *