Going beyond Recycling

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  • Title: Going beyond Recycling: Minimizing Waste at Festivals in New Zealand
  • Author(s): Joany Grima
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: On Sustainability
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice
  • Keywords: Festivals, Sustainability, Waste Minimization, Barriers, Local Authority, New Zealand
  • Volume: 15
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2325-1166 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1182 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2325-1166/CGP/v15i02/1-13
  • Citation: Grima, Joany. 2019. "Going beyond Recycling: Minimizing Waste at Festivals in New Zealand." The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice 15 (2): 1-13. doi:10.18848/2325-1166/CGP/v15i02/1-13.
  • Extent: 13 pages


Waste minimization practices at New Zealand festivals are unregulated, and local authority guidance with regard to waste minimization varies. Despite the absence of regulation, some festivals are choosing to incorporate waste minimization practices into their operations. This study investigates the primary barriers associated with minimizing festival waste and explores solutions to overcome them. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with sixteen festival organizers representing fourteen festivals were undertaken in order to analyze the inclusion of waste minimization practices in their operations, and to determine perceptions of both facilitators and barriers toward influencing and implementing such practices. Dominant barriers related to waste management service providers, volunteers, the time and resources required to implement a waste minimization system, specialist knowledge about packaging, regional recycling capacity, and local authorities. The study found that many of the barriers and challenges identified are aligned with the recommended model of minimizing festival waste in New Zealand, which focuses heavily on recycling. There is scope to urgently re-think this model, the effectiveness of which has deteriorated in light of the global recycling crisis triggered by China’s National Sword initiative. While there is no “one size fits all” solution to minimizing festival waste, focusing less on recyclable, and more on edible, reusable, and compostable packaging could not only reduce waste, but also reduce the necessary infrastructure on festival sites. A revised model could facilitate a decrease in the obstacles relating to waste minimization found in this study. Opportunities for innovation within the New Zealand event waste service provision market exist, including the expansion of the range of products and services available. There are also opportunities for local authorities to more actively engage with the festival waste minimization agenda through the implementation of regulation.