From the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto to the Bluegrass Festival in Tottenham, to the Cranberry Festival in Bala, Ontario is rich with festivals and events, which number in the 5,000 range. For the millions of who enjoy festivals, food and beverages are an integral part of the experience. In an effort to help reduce waste and recover more recyclables, the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO), the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Coca-Cola Canada announced a partnership at the end of August 2011 to bring festivals towards zero waste.
The partnership provides waste reduction resources and information to community festivals and events through an innovative online toolkit designed by RCO for all sizes and types of events. The toolkit offers practical information and resources to all users, be they seasoned recyclers or in the initial stages of a waste management program.
Funded by a $100,000 donation from the Coca-Cola Foundation as well as funds from the province’s environment ministry, RCO’s Zero Waste Community Event Certification Program is an innovative solution to the growing waste generated at events, festivals and open spaces. The toolkit was designed based on global research that leveraged the best tools and recycling activities from around the world. When activated in 2012, it will form the basis for the new Certification Program to help festivals measure and verify their recycling results, giving them positive public recognition.
Coca-Cola’s support for RCO’s program came as it rolled out another important recycling effort – the “Give it Back” program with the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). To support the program, Coca-Cola provided 186 beverage syrup concentrate barrels which were re-purposed as recycling collection barrels.
The CNE deployed a total of 575 recycling barrels on the grounds this year. Last year’s efforts yielded a beverage container recycling rate of over 83 per cent and diverted over 50 metric tonnes of beverage containers from landfill to recycling. In addition, the Coca-Cola Recycling Education Vehicle (REV) was at the CNE grounds to educate visitors on the importance of recycling through fun and interactive video games and contests.
“The CNE takes recycling very seriously and Coca-Cola’s deployment of over 186 recycling containers will help our recycling efforts,” said the CNE’s David Bednar. “Each year we work with partners to look for innovative ways to green the fair.”
“With environmental issues and rising costs playing a major role in events these days, we need to maximize our efficiencies in the way we do things,” said Ron Oatman, Volunteer Recycling Coordinator for Burlington’s annual Ribfest festival.
The Zero Waste Toolkit is scheduled to launch later this fall and the accompanying Certification Program will be offered in spring 2012, at the beginning of the festival season.
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Jo-Anne St. Godard is Executive Director of the Recycling Council of Ontario, in Toronto, Ontario. Contact Jo-Anne at email@example.com