Return-It at the 2018 Surrey Fusion Festival
Taking place over a smoking hot July weekend in Surrey’s Holland Park, the Surrey Fusion Festival offered crowds from all across the Lower Mainland an authentic array of 45 different cultural pavilions offering cuisine, crafts, music, and goods, as well as more than 150 performers across six stages. These pavilions represented a spanning of the globe that would be difficult to match in most communities around the world, showing Surrey’s world-class diversity. From Afghanistan to Indonesia, Haiti to Zambia, and everywhere in between, the Surrey Fusion Festival brings together all of the wonderful aspects of the world’s cultures. This is why it was named “Best Festival” at the 2017 Regional Canadian Event Industry Awards. The Return-It Ambassadors played a big role in keeping the environmental impact of this outstanding festival to a minimum.
An event of this size comes with many logistical challenges, including waste management. Return-It is serious about encouraging community members to take the initiative to reduce the environmental impact of their events. One of these thoughtful and enthusiastic community members is Jenna Kuzemski, Special Events Marketing Coordinator for the City of Surrey.
Jenna outlined some of the efforts that the City takes to manage waste for the Festival. “Surrey Fusion Festival hires Green Chair Recycling to manage all of its waste diversion and recycling, who typically recycles up to 95% of event waste,” she said. Return-It has worked with Green Chair for many years, and provides them with dedicated beverage container recycling bins to be used at events like this.
Green Chair also helps Festival organizers identify “greening opportunities,” provides “guidance for vendors and sponsors to reduce waste,” and “hauls all waste and recycling from the event to reputable recycling facilities.”
Liliana Segal, Chief Green Officer at Green Chair, elaborated on the work the company did at the Festival. “Each of our stations has six categories, including a Return-It refundables bin.” These stations, were everywhere on the Festival grounds, for good reason. “With 53 kitchens from around the world, and a very hot weekend, the event attendees consumed lots of drinks, which were collected at our stations,” said Segal. “We had green ambassadors standing at the stations to educate, but most people recognize the Return-It refundables bins, and dispose of their bottles and cans there.” Once the Festival was over, the empty beverage containers were taken to the Richmond-Ironwood Return-It Depot. Over 12,000 containers were collected.
Jenna also touched on the ways that the team works to reduce their environmental impact. “In 2018, we ensured pavilions only use 100 percent biodegradable, plant-based straws and wooden cutlery for serving.” With the Festival grounds located within walking distance of King George Skytrain station, attendees are encouraged “to take public transit to the event, instead of driving.”
Along with the City of Surrey’s waste management/recycling efforts, Encorp Pacific and the Return-It Ambassador team were active at the Festival grounds.
The Encorp Recycling 101 booth serves to encourage recycling education through fun activities. "The Trivia Match Game makes learning about recycling interactive and engaging, while the #I’mARecyclingGenius Selfie Station is the perfect way to get your friends, family, and followers into the recycling spirit" says Allen Langdon, President and CEO of Encorp Pacific. These resources and activities are just one of many ways that Encorp Pacific is reaching out to communities around British Columbia.
The Return-It Ambassadors are also a great public education resource. Their booth features a Recycling 101 process board where visitors can explore the process of recycling containers into new useable products. They are ready to supply resources to the public such as helping people learn what can be recycled and where, or providing material such as the Recycle BC Handbook. The Return-It Ambassadors make it their mission to sneak in some useful information around fun and engaging recycling activities.