Barbara Hammonds, Taranaki Regional Council Donna Hutton, Taranaki Arts Festival Trust Simon Berndt

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Report for:

Ministry for the Environment

WOMAD NZ 2008: Towards Zero Waste

Sustainable Management Fund Project Number 4222
Prepared by

Barbara Hammonds, Taranaki Regional Council

Donna Hutton, Taranaki Arts Festival Trust

Simon Berndt, Boon Goldsmith Bhaskar Team Architecture


Table of Contents 2

List of Figures 3

List of Table 3

1 - Executive summary 4

2 - Introduction 5

3 - Planning and Operation 6

Overview 6

Waste Streams 7

Front of House - Recycling Stations 8

Front of House – Other Initiatives 10

Collection and Sorting 10

Bins Skips and Other Equipment 12

Back of House 14

Staffing 14

4 - Feedback 16

5 - Results 18

6 - Recommendations for WOMAD 2009 21

7 – Advice for Planning a Zero Waste Event and Achieving Success! 23

8 - Appendices 26

Figure 1: Patrons using a recycling station 6

Figure 2: Internal arrangements for recycling stations 8

Figure 3: Visual message on recycling stations 9

Figure 4: Moving a recycling station 10

Figure 5: Volunteers collecting bags by trolley 10

Figure 6: Sorters at work at the recycling centre 11

Figure 7: Resource recovery area (back of food stalls) 13

Figure 8: General layout of the resource recovery area for food stalls 14

Figure 9: What can happen at the end of an event 15

Figure 10: Biodegradable skip contents 18

Figure 11: Recycling station in use 24

Figure 12: Site ready to go before opening 25

Table 1: Estimated waste weights and volumes for WOMAD 2008 7

Table 2: Waste stream material types 8

Table 3: Numbers and location of backstage 240L bins 12

Table 4: Summary of results, by category in both weight and volume 19

Table 5: Summary of bags collected at each recycling station 20


The World of Music Art and Dance, (WOMAD), is an annual international festival that holds its New Zealand leg in Pukekura Park New Plymouth. The event is run by the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (TAFT) and in 2008, with support from a number of organisations and volunteers, put in place a comprehensive waste minimisation system

Early in 2007 the planning for this began with an application to the Ministry of the Environment’s (MfE) Sustainable Management Fund, (SMF), to help towards costs for this project. This report is in part to fulfil the requirements of this funding.

Nearly 75% of the almost 15 tonnes of waste material that left the site was diverted from landfill to composting or recycling, making this project highly successful for all those involved and far surpassing estimates and goals.

The underlying principle for this project was to control the inputs and manage the outputs. To achieve this, all food and drink containers and cutlery on the site had to be biodegradable or recyclable, and the stall holders were contractually bound to this. This control combined with extensive use of volunteers, and manual sorting of all waste were the keys to the success of this project.

The nearly 75% recycling rate was made up of cardboard (2.6 tonnes, 45m3), glass (3.1t, 3m3), recyclables (2t, 21m3) and biodegradables (3.1t, 30m3) out of a total of 14.9 tonnes of waste.

Following from this project a series of recommendations have been produced in order to help others achieve high levels of recycling at different event. These recommendations include; high level buy-in, volunteers, controlling materials, sorting, storage, signage, backstage rubbish, bad weather contingency and audience “cut-through”.

It is hoped that the experiences learned from WOMAD 2008 will be helpful to others and show that high levels of recycling are possible and feasible at all events


Since the first WOMAD, in March 2003, this festival has rapidly grown to become New Zealand’s most successful outdoor festival. In 2008 many thousands of people gathered to watch 300 artists on five stages over three days in the unique surroundings of Brooklands Park, Taranaki - WOMAD is one of the stand out events on the New Zealand festival circuit.

WOMAD brings together people and cultures from around the world in this three day festival. With over 40 food stalls, 50 retail stalls, and over 30,000 audience members over the 55 acres of Brooklands Park, the potential for waste is huge. Working towards zero waste fits with the WOMAD ethos of looking after the planet and also from an economic perspective in relation to the cost of waste management and disposal relating to an event of such size.
The project team adopted “zero waste” ideals as a powerful concept that challenges old ways of thinking and inspires new attitudes and behaviour. It is a multifaceted approach, integrating the “Four Rs” of waste minimisation (reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink), to conserve the Earth’s limited resources. WOMAD is committed to ensuring this event is not only a spectacular celebration of international culture, sound and sight, but also becomes an exemplar of environmental sustainability success! We actively encouraged and assisted ALL who were involved in WOMAD 2008 (from the artists performing to the public attending), to share in and contribute to this goal.

At WOMAD 2007, a recycling system was implemented to reduce the amount of waste going to our landfills. However, it was obvious that more was needed than just supplying the bins for people to use to ensure we made an impact on the amount of waste being created. So began a program ranging from controlling the types of products that food was being served in, to public messages reminding the public to use the correct bins, to developing large recycling stations for the public to use and educating them along the way- WOMAD and its project team began an intensive project working on this issue from a number of angles.

The MfE, granted financial assistance to aid in the planning and resourcing of this vast project and what began as an idea between interested individuals and TAFT grew into a project that has been described by members of the project team as “bigger than Ben Hur!”. The hurdles faced were numerous especially management of a project of such scale and on such a large and varied terrain as well as ensuring access to the various groups of people on site – e.g. artists, stallholders, volunteers etc.

With hard work and support from a number of parties including the MfE, the Taranaki Regional Council and group of dedicated individuals and volunteers, WOMAD was able to achieve in our first year of concerted waste management a 75% diversion rate (figures indicated further through the report) of waste at WOMAD 2008.

This report outlines the processes and plans implemented in 2008 that enabled this project to work as well as recommendations for future events. It is evidence that the audience, artists and stallholders were receptive and enthusiastic about a zero waste goal and will continue to support this project. Undoubtedly, if we can continue with the current model, taking into consideration the recommendations in this report we can reach our goal of ”Zero Waste at WOMAD.”


    1. Overview

From the outset, three main waste streams were planned for biodegradable, co-mingled recyclable and residual rubbish. Additionally, cardboard and glass were separated and collected.
The site was divided into two main areas to be managed, front of house (patrons) and back of house (performers and crew). Each area presented different opportunities and barriers, so different strategies were used in each.
The basic principle underlying the system was “control the inputs, manage the outputs”. This meant controlling as much as possible what was brought on to the site by the public and stallholders, and having volunteers staffing the recycling stations to help people use them. There was also a final sort of materials before they left the site to ensured minimal contamination of recyclables and biodegradables.
The public face of waste minimisation at the event was seven recycling stations placed strategically around the site., (See, (see section 3.3 for more information.)).

Figure 1: Patrons using a recycling station
All back of house areas were provided with a set of three lined 240L wheelie bins for each of the major waste streams.

    1. Waste Streams

      1. Anticipated Quantities

The estimated total quantity of waste expected was extrapolated from the total weight of waste generated from WOMAD 2005 and 2007. Although more tickets would be available for 2008, patron numbers were not expected to increase as this was the first year the event would be held annually instead of biennially.
These estimates were then broken down based on the waste results from “WOMADelaide”, a similar event in Adelaide, Australia, 2005 and 2006, with adjustments for local differences. From these weights, volume estimates were calculated based upon widely accepted conversion factors and these estimated volumes are presented in Table 1. Planning of skip sizes and numbers was based on these extrapolated volumes.
Table 1: Estimated Waste Weights and Volumes for WOMAD 2008


Weight (tonnes)

Percent of total by weight

Volume (m3)









Co-mingled recyclables








Total Diversion




Residual waste








      1. Controlling Inputs (biodegradable crockery and cutlery, recyclables).

Stallholders were required to use biodegradable crockery and cutlery for food and drinks sold on site, see 3.2.3. Local suppliers of these items were contacted six months before the event to ensure they understood the requirements and could provide the appropriate stock.
Readily biodegradable beer and wine glasses and coffee cup lids were not available and were substituted with recyclable type 6 plastic. Unfortunately local recyclers could not handle Type 6 plastics so these were separated out at the recycling centre and processed separately out of town.
As with prior WOMAD NZ festivals patrons could not bring glass onto the festival site, meaning theoretically the only glass in public areas was to be from wine bottles purchased at the bars. Bottles attracted a $5 refundable deposit to encourage their return increasing site safety and concentrating all glass at the bar areas making collection easy.

      1. Stall Holder Contracts

The types of materials allowed on site were specified in all stallholder contracts. This included a list approved biodegradable items, local suppliers and information on the Zero Waste Project (see appendices). Contracts included a bond that could be forfeited if stallholders did not adhere to these conditions

      1. Types of waste streams

The waste generated on site was divided into the following categories for processing and disposal.
Table 2: Waste Stream Material types


Material types


Food scraps, biodegradable cutlery, drink containers and plates, paper and cardboard contaminated by food

Co-mingled recyclables

PET and HDPE bottles, aluminium cans, steel tins

No. 6 plastic drink cups and coffee cup lids (separated at the recycling centre)




Bottles and jars

Residual rubbish

Everything else

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