This article wants to shed some light on the importance of logistics. How to plan it well and how to organize your waste flows. It gives recommendations on where to put the garbage bins and what you can do to ensure that festivalgoers know how to recycle. Moreover, we want to give you some hints on who you can work with to ensure smooth waste treatments.
1. Some Facts and Figures
A well functioning logistic during an event (before, during and after) is crucial to ensure that the waste is recycled well, or that it will be recovered (for example making fertile soil out of organic waste). Don’t forget that logistics is more than anything else context dependent. Our methodology focuses on the contextualisation and gives you hints on what to analyze (Section 4).
1.2. Contextualisation is key
Get an idea of your target group and their existing level of know-how. What about the local awareness of sorting waste? Do you think your target group is generally well educated about these topics? Most important might be the awareness of the legislation and the destination of your waste. How is waste treated in your city ? What can be recycled ? What ends up in an incinerator or a landfill?
According to this information, you will know how many different garbage bins (paper, glass, …) you need to correctly sort the waste. Moreover, you will know how detailed you should give instructions on waste sorting.
If you manage to answer the following questions you are well prepared:
- What waste separation do you do at your home? Do you have specific containers to recycle textiles and glass?
- What kind of waste separation do you have on municipal level? And who is responsible for it – the public authorities themselves or a delegation of service to a private company ? Are there additional actors offering waste services ?
- How often does each type of garbage you will work with get collected?
- Which types of plastic are recycled in your city?
- Do you have a local compost plant?
- How high is the general recycling rate in your city? Where is the end destination of your mixed waste? Is your waste valorised in other ways ? such as the production of electricity from the landfill’s biogas, or through an incinerator with energy production or heating system?
Feel free to add questions in the common that could help to further analyze your context and serve to be better prepared.
How would you know what kinds of waste you will mainly produce during the festival? To anticipate and calculate this in advance, it is helpful to list your stakeholders and to design for each a typical profile. Meaning that you try to visualize what each of the stakeholders might consume during your festival, bring with them and what they are going to do during the day. (More about that, you also find in our methodology)
2. Our Approach
2.1. Sorting the Waste
As the makesense festival includes conferences about the environment, we expected our audience to naturally care about the future and be well informed about the importance of sorting waste. So we considered it was enough to simply inform them what goes into which bin by writing on each container: organic waste, non-recyclable, recyclable waste. To detail a bit what can be put into the recyclable waste container, we looked it up on the official website of Paris on how to sort the waste and wrote it briefly on the bins. “Recyclable waste: Carton, paper, metal, and plastics. Everything else that remains, put it in the non-recyclable bin.” Each bins were weighted by the low waste team who also checked if it was well sorted. The feedback was mostly positive, even though some waste did certainly not end up in the right bin.
The organic waste and the degradable dishes were collected by Les Alchimistes. They did fertile soil out of the 150 kilogram we gave them. They gave us really positive feedback on how the waste was well sorted.
First lesson learned is that contextualisation is key. It is important to be well prepared and to know which garbage bin you do need and how the waste is treated. Also many festivalgoers start to be interested in such topics once they realize how much attention it is placed on it. You need to be ready to answer a lot of questions, such as: Can the bracelets be recycled even though they are so colorful? Can post-its be recycled even though there is some glue on it? Where does our waste go and how does it get treated?
Our second lesson learned is that it was more expensive to treat our waste than we expected. We payed around 200€ for the service of Les Alchimistes, we would have paid the same amount on top of this to recycle the cigarette buts. If we would not have only used garbage bags we would have also paid to have more “beautiful” garbage stations. This would have exceeded our budget.
Important is also the aesthetic aspect of the logistics. This is something that we did not take into account too much : we underestimated the important role of having beautiful bins spread around the venue versus garbage bags hanging around. We had four sets of boxes to put in the garbage which we took from the makesense office and for the rest we only used garbage bags. Festivalgoers seems more willing to actually use the bins if they don’t look dirty or boring but more pleasant and fun. Another aspect we did not anticipate was the quantity of space they occupied and the fact that those bins did not look appropriate for a VIP lounge look. On top of this they were placed directly next to the buffet, which makes totally sense but certainly is not the most pleasant place to put them. This is one of our lessons learned that next time we will spend some of our budget to make the garbage bins look nicer and to have enough of them.
Interesting solutions can be found on the internet, for example KarTent, a company based in Amsterdam, produces temporary garbage bins out of recycled cardboards. Or morebins in the UK that provides recycling stations that are all redesigned and upcycled out of unwanted items.
2.3. Location of your bins
Know your venue!. Usually every venue has a map of the building that you can ask for. In our case, we did not need a lot of bins because we ensured to reduce the waste in advance in everything else we did, still you never know and being prepared – that’s half the battle.
In addition to garbage bins, we provided a box at the exit for everyone to give back their bracelets. Those were made out of recyclable paper and in Paris. We weren’t sure if everyone would know this and so we decided to collect them and ensure they are going to be recycled.
2.3.1. Venue Checklist
Two visits on the site are essential. We needed one long before the festival starts and one only few days before. It is of the utmost importance to get an overview on where to place the bins and how the waste management should be planned accordingly that day. But also to engage with the manager on the venue about your mission and vision and about the small details on how the venue is functioning and where you can intervene. Here a very brief guide on what to think of when visiting the venue.
An important topic for us was to handle cigarette buts. A cigarette butt can take up to 14 years to degrade, and each cigarette can contaminate eight litres of groundwater when it is not properly taken care of. Logistics can solve this problem. We contacted several organizations in and around Paris to ensure that every single cigarettes would get recycled. But, in the end, we always received the same answer: you can collect the cigarettes buts yourself and then bring them to us. Another option was to pay for someone to come and collect them. Collect the cigarettes buts directly form the smokers and store them safely is not as easy at is sound: certain regulations, mainly from the venue, don’t allow to put cigarette buts into normal garbage bags. We provided our own “stations” to store them and to bring them after the festival to a proper recycling entity. As you can see we failed in having an attractive ashtray:
This is certainly not very appealing for smokers and it misses information on why it would be important to put the cigarette buts here and not somewhere else.
The metal pieces that you can see on the box were put to ensure that the cigarettes can be turned off before being in contact with paperboard. Not only did it lack attractiveness and practicability, but overall it could also have been dangerous. We recommend to use fire-resistant bags to collect the cigarette butts. Ideally you can easily close those bags, because we can assure you that the smell of old cigarettes is extremely unpleasant !
Most of the cigarettes ended up on the floor outside. It is important to communicate a lot about how the event handles cigarette remainings. Otherwise people are not accustomed and do throw them away as they would (unfortunately) normally do.
There are nevertheless great solutions on the market, with some costs to be installed. This is something that could be discussed with the venue, so that they install it permanently. Solutions in Paris are for example Greenminded or Eco Megot. As far as we know those solutions have already started spreading around Europe, and you can find them in other countries too, for example in the UK (Ballot Bin).
3. In a Nutshell
About the author:
Hello all! I am Janine and a community developer for Future of Waste. I am absolutely passionate about waste and I am living a Zero Waste Lifestyle. Now I started jumping into the adventure of a large scale Zero Waste project. I want to help to brush up the image we have about waste – it is a resource and not trash, so let’s be creative!
#zerowasty #mindfuladventurer #wasteissexy
Our website for more information: https://www.makesense.org/futureofwaste
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Credits for the home photo: Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexel