Formed as a response to the 2004 Packaging Accord, EBAG’s stated aim is to address the obligations of the beverage packaging industry under the Accord.
“Having looked at the opportunities for increasing the amount of recycling in New Zealand, one of the best ways we identified is through event recycling,” says Bronwen Bartley, EBAG facilitator.
Events such as the flower show are expected to reap a double dividend of diverting a large amount of waste away from landfill, while also serving to remind people of the importance of recycling.
Events are not the only factor in EBAG’s ambitions, however. What Bartley describes as ‘out and about’ recycling includes things such as recycling collection bins in shopping centres. Coca Cola has recently put in recycling bins at the Botany Town Centre shopping area in East Auckland and that is starting to have an impact.
But events such as the flower show with their tremendous popularity offer the opportunity to reach an enormous amount of people in a short space of time in a controlled environment.
Another event-related recycling opportunity will be presented at Coca Cola Christmas in the Park, where another EBAG-spearheaded initiative will see collections made. Other events are also on the horizon.
“We have produced some guidelines for sponsors of events and we have had a huge response,” Bartley says. “It’s been very encouraging.”
Sharon Jereb, has been the driving force behind the Ellerslie Flower Show recycling scheme and says that the event is important because it is the first high profile event where EBAG has put in place a recycling scheme.
Jereb, who works for EBAG member company DB Breweries, and is described by Bartley as “a very supportive member of EBAG”, first saw the event as an opportunity when speaking with the show’s onsite catering contractor Compass Group. Compass’ national operations manager, Murray Ross, worked with Jereb to design a simple programme that was easy for his team to adopt and consumers to understand.
With the majority of the beverage containers at the show being consumed in a relatively controlled area around the food and beverage outlets operated by Compass, Jereb says the combination of the catering company and EBAG’s recycling scheme “made sense”.
As one of the largest food catering companies in New Zealand, and handling a series of big events including Christmas in the Park, Compass is well positioned to assist in the drive for more comprehensive event recycling.
Murray Ross says that he was pleased with Jereb’s idea to bring a recycling programme to the Ellerslie Flower Show for the first time. “It is our first foray into recycling for a large event, so it is a little bit of a softly softly approach,” Ross says, “But it is a very good start.”
EBAG will put in place the recycling system for the show, including the containers, while Compass will provide the labour force. Ross says that staff will be pointing customers in the right direction with the recycling bins.
While the Ellerslie Flower Show has been a swift demonstration by EBAG of just how effective it can be, nobody is making too many rapid assumptions about where things go from here. But Ross believes it could be the start of a very positive trend.
“We are one of the largest food service providers in the country, so there is a good opportunity to carry on. Now that we’ve started the ball rolling and we’ve got the right contacts, it should be easier to carry on in the same fashion.”
Jereb, speaking before the opening of the Ellerslie Flower Show, said that there were some nerves about the exercise, despite the fact that meticulous planning had taken place: “It’s the first exercise of its kind, and no matter how well you plan it, you can never be entirely sure how it will turn out.”
Through well-established relationships with DB Breweries, Jereb was able to call on the services of Recycle NZ (a division of Waste Management), Astron Plastics & Fullcircle (a Carter Holt Harvey company) to provide recycling solutions.
Recycle NZ supplied colour-coded wheelie bins to facilitate the separation of PET and glass bottles, as well as skips for depositing material outside the show perimeter. Fullcircle took care of the show’s cardboard, which was deposited in recycling bins at the Manurewa site, and Astron geared itself up to manage the endless stretch wrap waste seen at these events.
The 2005 show was the first year that a substantial recycling scheme had been implemented. It was also the first year that Compass managed the catering contract.
“Given that we entered the recycling planning very late in the organisation of this year’s show, the support and the proactive approach of the operations teams was impressive,” says Jereb.
“All-in-all this was a very positive exercise and we believe a significant amount of waste was diverted from landfill.
“EBAG’s reason for being is to divert beverage containers from landfill, as per our obligations under the Packaging Accord. We see event recycling as an ideal opportunity to achieve this goal.”
Jereb says that event recycling is important because of the “significant quantities” of waste that they can generate, and which can subsequently be diverted.
“Because of increased consumption, the amount that needs to be collected to reach the Packaging Accord targets is growing all the time.
“Events like these provide a reasonably controlled environment and a fantastic opportunity to collect. There is no reason that beverage containers from events should go to landfill. They can be collected.”
With the signing of the Packaging Accord last year, the issue of recycling and waste management has been brought into sharper focus than ever before, and the push for recycling at major events fits in with this focus in a timely fashion.
“All-things-waste are becoming more and more topical, but people often don’t know where to find solutions.”
Now that the contacts have been made and as networks are established among food and beverage suppliers and organisations such as EBAG, this becomes less and less of an issue.
By picking up opportunities to talk with others who have an interest in recycling, Jereb says there is a spiral effect that opens up opportunities that may not have existed previously. “The more you network, the more opportunities there are. And EBAG’s strength is in the network.”
Many of EBAG’s members are competitors in the business world, but the issues that divide them in the marketplace disappear when they sit around to discuss recycling issues.
“There is pretty good interaction between all the members because the issues surrounding packaging and products are all the same.
“As a cross-sector group, EBAG has a lot of knowledge,” Jereb says. “All of us have our own areas of expertise which we can bring to the table.
“Waste is an issue we all share. It doesn’t just belong to one sector or to government. While we can do things individually to help, but that’s much more difficult than if we were to do it together.”
The process of building the recycling message is one that has started at home and will continue through the presence of recycling operations at major events. Jereb says that people started asking the question, ‘If we can recycle at home, then why can’t we recycle when at an event?’ And it is an attitude that is being manifested in many different areas. For example, the 2005 Hokitika Wildfoods Festival featured compostable PLA cups from which to drink your favourite Monteith’s brew.
“For events, EBAG will look at the question of ‘can we put you in touch with the right people to make this happen’.”
Several other organisations and event organisers have already been in touch with EBAG to enquire about recycling, from enormous metropolitan cultural festivals to small town schools: “We get a lot of emails from around the country now from people who know about EBAG and want to get in behind the recycling schemes. We have not had to look for a lot of opportunities so far. It is coming to us.
“There are endless opportunities out there. I am very enthusiastic about EBAG and what we are doing. If we can be enthused and show a willingness to make it happen, then it will happen.”
Jereb says that with the Ellerslie Flower Show marking the first event where EBAG has organised recycling, it was important to get it right, and she was confident that they had done just that.
For further information on the Packaging Accord 2004 go to www.packaging.org.nz
|What is EBAG?|
The Environmental Beverage Action Group (EBAG) was formed in October 2004 to specifically address the obligations of the beverage packaging industry under the Packaging Accord 2004.
The group consists of the major beverage container producers, manufacturers and distributors in New Zealand, namely: Alto Plastics, Amcor PET Technologies, Coca-Cola Amatil, DB Breweries, Fonterra Co-operative, Foodstuffs, Frucor Beverages, NZ Juice & Beverage association, Visy PET together with representatives from Ministry for the Environment, Local Government New Zealand, the Packaging Council of NZ, Plastics NZ and Recycling Operators of New Zealand.
EBAG has two main objectives. Firstly, to ensure all beverage containers can be recycled in New Zealand, and secondly, to identify and implement methods to improve the collection rates of beverage containers for recycling.
EBAG is working to become a recognised industry leader within the environmental industry for:
• providing recovery/recycling waste solutions on a national basis covering events, out and about, as well as improving kerb-side recovery rates
• achieving cross sector collaboration between all industries involved in beverage production for the common good of the environment
• development and promulgation of educational resources
• best practice environmental practices
• encouraging all companies involved in the beverage industry to ensure their packaging is recyclable in New Zealand.
• best practice in-house waste minimisation programmes and results.