While visiting sports teams hunted tries and goals, one Tauranga squad spent the Anchor AIMS Games week dilligently diving for compostable coffee cups.
Tauranga-based Waste Watchers staff, aided by a team of 50 student volunteers known as the Green Team, spent this week patrolling compost, recycling and waste bins at AIMS Games venues around the city.
“Yes, that does mean diving into bins to sort manky apple cores from recyclable bottles and used bandages,” Waste Watchers director Marty Hoffart pointed out. “But we’re pretty determined to beat last year’s record.”
In 2016, Hoffart and his vigilant crew collected roughly 2.6 tonnes of AIMS Games waste and ensured about half of it was composted or recycled.
He says it was no mean feat, with a record-breaking 10,000 hungry competitors and their coffee-guzzling coaches, parents and supporters descending on the city for the best part of a week.
Since the event’s inception in 2004, on-site food and beverage vendors have become increasingly environmentally responsible, serving edibles and drinks in paper or cardboard.
Rotorua-based coffee vendor Florent Vade, who had 10 mobile carts and machines at eight venues, estimates his Coffee Chic staff sold about 12,000 cups of coffee during the event, all in compostable cups.
However, Hoffart points out spectators brought thousands more coffee cups and takeaway food containers onto the sporting sidelines from other outside shops and cafes. Many of these receptacles could not be recycled or composted.
He says education was a big part of his team’s job.
“Most people want to do the right thing when it comes to disposing of waste but they’re not always sure what goes where so we have to constantly monitor and advise and sort.
“Wouldn’t it be brilliant if every visiting sports team got competitive about rubbish and aimed to create as little waste as possible? I’d give that team a gold medal.”
Last year, Hoffart and his vigilant crew ensured 55 percent of AIMS Games waste was composted or recycled.