The Zero Waste station at Suds on the River.

Our annual fundraiser goes Zero Waste!

The Huron River Watershed Council worked with Recycle Ann Arbor to go Zero Waste at this year’s Suds on the River fundraiser. From this event, 141 pounds of waste were produced, but 136 pounds were recycled and composted- that is a 96% waste diversion!

The recycling from this event saved 6 gallons of gasoline and 298 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

How does a Zero Waste Event run?

The goal at a Zero Waste event is to plan ahead to limit the amount of waste produced, by only distributing materials that are locally recyclable or compostable (no materials that have to be landfilled), and maximize reusable products. Landfills have been shown to be the most environmentally detrimental option for legal waste disposal. Zero Waste services ensure that events have the smallest possible impact upon the environment.

During a Zero Waste event, volunteers are stationed at the three-bin Zero Waste stations to assist patrons in sorting waste into the correct receptacles for compost, recyclables, or trash. Through a partnership with WeCare Organics, Recycle Ann Arbor is able to collect more materials for composting than are accepted in the Ann Arbor curbside compost program or than can be composted at home.

Recycle Ann Arbor has been able to offer expanded special events Zero Waste services in Washtenaw County due to a recent grant from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation which allowed the organization to purchase 20 compost and recycling bins from ClearStream Recycling, as well as a floor scale for tracking weights of all waste produced at events.

All non-durable dishware and utensils at this event were certified compostable by Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). Besides plain paper plates and napkins, these included compostable potato or corn starch tubs, cups, containers, lids, and clamshells. These products can be purchased locally at Bgreen, located at 2111 Packard Rd., Ann Arbor.

Recycle Ann Arbor has coordinated Zero Waste efforts at five environmental events this year: the Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival on April 22nd, the Mayor’s Green Fair on June 8th, the Ecology Center’s Dance for the Earth on April 21st and EcoRide on June 24th, and HomeGrown Festival on Sept 8th. In total, these events produced 952.4 lbs. of waste, of which 903.9 lbs. (95%) was diverted from landfill through recycling and composting.