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Our Festival Gets Greener Every Year

If you were to host an all-day party for 2,000 of your friends and family, how much trash do you think you’d generate? If you were talking about the Kona Brewer’s Festival, then zero would be your answer, especially with sustainability coordinator Krista Donaldson

Zero Waste tables with volunteers --"Together we CAN trash rubbish!" says Krista.
Zero Waste tables with volunteers –“Together we CAN trash rubbish!” says Krista.

at the helm. Donaldson has brought Kona Brewers Festival to the point where it pre-cycles, recycles and composts 90% of the waste from 2,000 volunteers, servers and food and craft beer lovers at Brewfest. Industry standards dictate that 80% of waste is recycled and composted in order to be called “Zero Waste,” so in 2013, Brewfest exceeded this goal.

In 2013, two truckloads of food waste were composted for pig slop and compostable foodservice ware (forks, spoons, cups, etc.) were saved from getting wasted in Waikoloa Landfill. Additionally, five truckloads of recycling were diverted from the landfill from Kona Brewfest.

Donaldson is not one to rest on her laurels as she sees room for improvement. In 2007, she began steering the waste number even closer to zero by allowing no water bottles at the event and the installing of the Zero Waste tables. If you’ve been to Brewfest, no doubt you have noticed the brightly colored compost and waste bins positioned throughout the festival, with volunteers helping to show which waste goes where. These are called the Zero Waste tables and are instrumental to the festival’s on-the-ground success with sustainability.

But even before you see these bins (designed and painted by local elementary school students), the planning toward Zero Waste is well underway. “It’s all about connectivity and encouraging reuse,” says Donaldson. “Simple things can be done like holding on to those forks, re-using when you can and weaning people off of the reliance on plastic.”
For 2014, her sustainability goals for the festival include a couple of exciting innovations. The first is that she intends to have no paper plates for the delicious food the guests get to sample. Instead of paper plates, guests can eat off of locally harvested tileaves. Not only would this support the local economy, and eliminate the need for paper and bleaching agents, but it also brings Brewfest guests back to more traditional dining in Hawaii.

Another exciting innovation that Donaldson intends to bring to life is a re-usable “spork” for guests to take home with their reusable mugs. The essence of pre-cycling, this would eliminate having to compost and recycling dinnerware and makes a fun souvenir guests can take with them on all their travels.

Finally, Donaldson is encouraging restaurants coming to Brewfest to take in and take out reusable service-ware. Items like large tinfoil pans get too caked with food to recycle and head directly to the landfill. Instead of this fate, she is working out an incentive plan for restaurant to pack in and pack out large trays of food.

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