Wild at Heart - Creating an Appetite for Change


One of the criticisms of the event industry is the tendency to create waste.  Several years back, the Absa Kirkwood Wildsfees hosted in the Sundays River Valley outside Port Elizabeth, took the decision to “go green”.

“Situated as we are the middle of wilderness areas and with the Addo Elephant National Park as one of our founding sponsors we believe that we need to set the green benchmark for festivals in South Africa,” says Absa Kirkwood Wildsfees director Jenni Honsbein.

The pioneering festival, which is 15 years old this year, was among the first in South Africa to focus on reducing waste.   Two years ago it partnered with The Waste Trade Company and Mpact Recycling (Pty) Ltd to raise the bar. Through the partnership the different waste streams from the Absa Kirkwood Wildsfees are now managed responsibly. 

Effective branding, promotional activities and the provision of resources are key ingredients to the successful greening of an event. 

"Strategic planning and effective communication are of utmost importance when managing the waste streams of an event that caters for over 45000 Wildsfees goers" says Kay Hardy, General Manager of The Waste Trade Company.

The festival organisers put their full weight behind the initiative, and made space available in high traffic areas for brightly branded recycling.  Organic waste bins, as well as grey water and used oil bins were provided.

Stall holders were advised of the available facilities before the start of the festival.  Donna-Mari Noble, Communications Manager, Mpact Recycling , was pleased to see that the public made  use of the recycling stations, "the ultimate goal is to create an appetite for change and, by consistently reminding the public of the importance of recycling, we can do just that".

Green Ambassadors from the local St Colmcille High acted as promotional staff for the duration of the festival.  They were highly visible in their "[email protected]" t-shirts, handing out brochures, educating the public and escorting Ronnie Recycler around the festival grounds whilst entertaining the festival goers. 

Hopefully the trend toward more earth-friendly events will encourage all to become not only "wild at heart", but environmentalists at heart. 

"This year, the Wildsfees produced just over 8000kg of recyclables.  Although there has been a positive swing in the change of mindset amongst consumers, there is still much work to be done in terms of getting consumers to separate at source.  We look forward to the day that festival goers are recycling to their full potential," says Kay Hardy.

One of the goals of the Absa Kirkwood Wildsfees is investment in community development.  Howard Bulkin, owner of The Waste Trade Company says: "our involvement with the Wildsfees has played a valuable role in the opening of our new depot in Addo Road," he adds, "this benefits the local community by creating employment and it has a positive environmental impact by reducing the amount of recyclables going into landfill."




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