How to create a low waste event without wasting the fun

16,000 GREAT sorts attended the East Fremantle George Street Festival last December with less than 40kg of waste sent to landfill.

The Town has set a new path of sustainability for large scale community events and won the inaugural 2022 WasteSorted Waste Avoidance (Events) Award for their efforts. Most people know landfill is the last resort, and by working with local businesses and the community to provide alternative solutions, the Town of East Fremantle allowed thousands of people to do better than the bin.

How they did it:

  • Single-use water bottles were banned with two 1,000 L water tanks and four water refill stations with reusable water cups
  • 22,000 reusable cups, plates, bowls and utensils were provided to the 35 food and drink vendors
  • Contamination was all but eliminated through the addition of volunteer bin monitors at each of the five waste stations with only 3.3kg of contamination across all waste streams.
  • All vendors were required to use Go2Cup including George Street businesses

“It has taken us a few years to get to where we are now, and while there’s still room for improvement, we encourage organisations who may not have a Sustainable Events Policy in place to set goals for their own events. It could be the amount of waste you want to reduce, or certain items you don’t want to see at your event. All efforts, as minimal as they may seem, contribute to the overall big picture.” says Waste and Sustainability officer Connor Warn.

Great Sorts are everywhere

The Town of East Fremantle aren’t the only ones hosting sustainable events though, with many more councils and event organisers following the same path.

Applecross Rotary, with assistance from the City of Melville, hosted the annual Jacaranda festival with a low waste plan in place. 12,000 people attended the festival and less than 50 kg of waste went to landfill.

Photo of two people in hi-res clothing behind a collection of waste bins

It only takes one

 “I was approached by Isabelle Gagnon, a passionate community member keen to work alongside Applecross Rotary and the City to reduce waste at the event. I met with Applecross Rotary and they were supportive of the initiative.” City of Melville Waste Education Officer Leah Adams said.

“The main barrier to implementing low waste initiatives at events is funding” . “In 2021, the City provided financial support to have Go2Cup provide reusable food ware at the festival. In 2022, the City successfully applied for $10,000 in grant funding via the  Plastic Free Riverpark Program (Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions). The low waste activities and reusable food ware at that year’s festival met the objectives of the program, which is working to reduce single use plastic packaging in and around the Swan and Canning rivers. “It was helpful to seek advice from Waste and Sustainability Officer Connor Warn at the Town of East Fremantle about how they did things at the George Street Festival as a starting point. You learn and improve from experience, as every event is a bit different. Getting the number of bins, placement of bins and number of volunteers to man the bins right is crucial, as well as restricting access to any existing public bins on site”

After hosting two low waste festivals, the City of Melville and Applecross Rotary are looking forward to an even better Jacaranda Festival in 2023.

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