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Taupō events working to reduce waste

By Rachel Canning - Taupo & Turangi Weekender | 30 May 2018 09:00

Rotorua

Event managers are taking a stand against event-generated rubbish, with Taupō's new night run/walk event The Possum being the sixth Central Plateau event asking participants to bring their own drinking vessel because cups are not provided.

In a bid to reduce plastic rubbish, events manager Nick Reader is requiring event goers to bring a hydration pack or use their own silicon cup at aid stations. The silicon cups squash down easily into a pocket and Nick says the logistics of going cupless is easily managed.

"They pull the cup out of their pocket, fill it up with liquid [drink it], and then fold the cup flat and stuff it back into their pocket."

The motivation behind running cupless events is purely environmental, Nick says.

"The planet is getting munted."

With the BDO Lake Taupō Cycle Challenge event still five months away, event director Debbie Chambers says they are still at the phase of investigating options.

"We are talking about a number of things at the moment. On the course we are considering installing water stations so participants can fill up their water bottle and perhaps using collapsible cups. It's just got to be presented in a way so the cyclists can still fill up quickly and stay hydrated."

Debbie says they are investigating replacing plastic cups with thick plastic Globelet cups that can be rented or bought. Cyclists will use them in the same way, but afterward the Globelet cups will be collected and steam cleaned for re-use.

Debbie says she will be working with suppliers to reduce packaging waste generated from the Sport & Lifestyle Expo at the cycle challenge and from items in the event bags that are given out at registration.

"Individual items don't need to be wrapped in plastic or cardboard, we are going to educate our suppliers about this. For instance, the bicycle keyrings didn't need to be individually wrapped in plastic," says Debbie.

A lesson learnt from the 2017 cycle challenge is that the crowd at the finish line are willing to put recyclable rubbish into the clearly marked bins, however they were not so good at sorting the rubbish. Debbie says for the 2018 event there will be volunteers stationed next to the recycling bins on the Tongariro Domain.

The cycle challenge has rubbish statistics for the 2016 event, and Debbie says it will be interesting to compare these stats with the 2018 event.

Ironman New Zealand race director Wayne Reardon says Ironman New Zealand has two staff members whose sole focus is making the event more sustainable. The event already uses 100 per cent biodegradable PLA cups that are made out of cornstarch.

Wayne says the plastic drink bottles used on the cycle leg are ground down into plastic pieces at a recycling facility located in Tauranga and then exported offshore, mainly into Indonesia. Every year the volume of waste taken to the Taupō District landfill is reduced, with statistics collected by the company contracted to manage the event-generated waste.

Wayne says that sorting rubbish at the finish line is something they are looking at, and he points to the Hawke's Bay Marathon, held on May 18, where there was a good system for sorting out the spectator-generated recycling.

Ironman regional director New Zealand Chris Randle says the efforts of the organisation are ongoing with a view to further reducing the footprint and environmental impact of the event.

This article was sourced from the New Zealand Herald. To read the full article click here.