Newtown Festival wins an Award!

Back in 2015, the Festival was nominated for a Wellington Airport Regional Community Award in recognition of the work the recycling steering group and the volunteers put into recycling at the Street Fair.  50% of waste from the Fair was diverted from the landfill – and they did even better in 2016 diverting 69%!

At the Wellington City awards on 25th August 2015 the Newtown Residents’ Association Festival Committee was announced as the winner of the Heritage and Environment category! Congratulations to all involved!

Recycling at Newtown Festival has been gaining momentum over the last few years. With the Festival being NZ’s largest outdoor free street market and concert, it was agreed that extra resourcing and efforts needed to be directed towards developing a world­ class recycling system. Based on good feedback from 2014, it was decided to combine the waste and recycling systems under one volunteer Steering Committee.  James Coyle, Vanessa Rushton, Renee Rushton (Newtown Community and Cultural Centre), Hannah Macintosh (South Wellington Timebank), and Ben Phillips took on the challenge of making a significant impact on the amount of waste going to the landfill.

To achieve the 50% diversion there needed to be a steep increase in the number of recycling stations, from three in 2014 to 12 in 2015.  Managing these was largely a volunteer-run initiative; there were over 200 hours given on the day to monitoring the stations, assisting the public to divert their waste into the right bins as well as checking through the recycling and landfill bags at the end of the day.“It’s a huge opportunity for consumer education, with over 80,000 people attending the festival every year..” says Committee member Vanessa Rushton. “The public were really receptive to learning which stream to put their waste into, be it glass, compost, general recycling or landfill. “The many awesome volunteers were crucial to the success of the day.  ­ The Festival wouldn’t be in a position to receive an award without their enthusiasm, and willingness to step up and be green ambassadors for Newtown.”

The success of this initiative marked a challenge to other community and council led events to markedly step up their commitment to waste minimisation. The Steering Committee have already been approached by other large Wellington festivals hoping to replicate the success of the Newtown Festival recycling efforts.