Fringe venues show they mean business with green bin scheme

Bassist Sam Palmer from Zopa and the Shakes gets to grips with the Vegware recycling system
Bassist Sam Palmer from Zopa and the Shakes gets to grips with the Vegware recycling system
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THE amount of rubbish at this year’s Fringe has been dramatically cut thanks to new eco-friendly schemes.

More than 25 tonnes of food waste and its packaging from the Pleasance, Teviot and Potterrow venues is being diverted from landfill this year.

The venues, run by Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA). are serving food and drink in compostable packaging made by Vegware – Edinburgh’s Green Company of the Year 2012.

The mixed food waste is collected by local social enterprise CORE and taken for recycling, with all of the food leftovers and packaging turned into fertiliser and combustible gas.

EUSA president James McAsh, said: “We are proud to be the first students’ association in Scotland to have completely adopted Vegware compostable packaging across all our catering outlets. This means that festival-goers and students can be safe in the knowledge that the 25 tonnes of food waste generated by our venues during August, together with the wrapping it was served in, can be disposed of responsibly.”

The EUSA scheme is part of a drive to cut the university’s carbon footprint and reduce waste disposal costs.

Mr McAsh added: “This is another step closer towards our cradle-to-cradle waste strategy where discarded food ultimately ends up as useful natural resource, rather than landfill. ”

EUSA’s team of joiners have created 19 recycling stations – or pods – with clear signage to help festival-goers choose the correct bin. The new cups, glasses, boxes and cutlery mean visitors will be able to dump their 
leftover food and its packaging into the same bin.

While it costs £250 a time to uplift waste for landfill, it costs only £50 to collect the equivalent amount of food waste.

The project is being trialled during August but will then be rolled out across all university premises.

It is in place across EUSA’s 19 catering outlets – the extra nine Festival-time catering outlets as well as the ten term-time outlets.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said there were a number of other green initiatives taking place at the Fringe.

“At the Fringe, we have something called the green venues initiative in which 30 venues are taking part,” he said. “The society and the venues work with Creative Carbon Scotland to make sure that best environmental practice is shared.

“We also have a reuse and recycle day at Fringe Central next Monday and Tuesday. This is where companies can leave piles of undistributed flyers, posters and programmes, and we’ll send them to be recycled. Companies can also leave props that they no longer need. If other companies see a prop that they can use, then they’re welcome to take them away.”

Fringe Central also hosts masterclasses on environmental good practice, with an open discussion organised by Creative Carbon Scotland on arts and the environment taking place tomorrow.

Vegware’s communications manager Lucy Frankel added: “The eco disposables used so far have saved over 800 kilos of carbon and 1.6 tonnes of virgin materials, and is set to divert over four tonnes of used packaging from landfill. It seems fitting that with Scotland leading the way with zero waste legislation, a Scottish university should be leading the way with zero waste events.”