South African Tourism (SA Tourism) is a member of the Event Greening Forum (EGF). It has committed to making its events sustainable with the EGF’s support – such as its multiple Green Award winning business tourism show, Meetings Africa, and, as of this year, its consumer tourism show, Africa’s Travel Indaba.
Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer of South Africa National Convention Bureau, explains, “South African Tourism recognises the importance of hosting events in a responsible manner and which address the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity.”
One greening strategy adopted at Meetings Africa is composting all organic waste generated and not sending it to landfill, as is typical at most events. Since this was implemented in 2015, it has resulted in preventing an estimated 2 337,7kg of CO2e emissions being released into the atmosphere.*
EGF member Earth Probiotic Recycling Solutions provided the full composting solution for Meetings Africa. Karen Heron, who co-founded the company, explains that they provided bins to collect the organic waste – both in the kitchen and in the food service areas – as well as a composting activator called Bokashi, training for the staff to deal with the waste, waste collection and weighing, composting, and a wet waste report.
Using the Bokashi system, Earth Probiotic can compost all food waste including cooked and uncooked meat, bones, fish, dairy, fresh produce, grains etc., as well as compostable food containers, wooden utensils and serviettes, and flowers and plants. The Bokashi is the magic ingredient that ferments the waste to speed up its breakdown, and ensures that the bins don’t smell. It’s also what makes it possible to compost some organic waste that usually can’t be composted, such as meat, bones and dairy.
“Composting takes between 6-10 weeks depending on climate, water and frequency of turning the material. If the client does not request the compost back, we use it for projects we may be working on. 1 000kg of food waste composts to about 300kg of compost,” says Heron.
The Earth Probiotic report shows that 2 502kg of wet waste was collected at Meetings Africa from 2015 to 2019. If this waste had been landfilled it would have emitted 1 569 tonnes of CO2e emissions.
The report also shows that wet waste volumes have decreased over the years. In this instance, this is a positive indicator of the event’s success in reducing its food waste.
“Focussing any attention on food, food waste and compostable food packaging, consciously draws attention to minimisation,” says Heron, who sees minimised wet waste volumes as one of the big advantages of their service, as this can translate into reduced costs.
She adds, “Separating wet waste from the waste stream also increases dry recyclables by more than 32%, by reducing food waste contamination of this material. If rebates are being earned, then this can be significant.”
EGF Chairperson, Greg McManus, says, “Event greening is often perceived as a high cost exercise, but this shows that in many instances it can save money – especially when improving efficiencies.”
If you are looking for useful event greening solutions, like Earth Probiotic, visit the EGF’s Green Database: www.greendatabase.co.za.
* CO2e Saved utilises the factor of 616.7143kg per tonne CO2e emitted in landfill. This calculation is based on DEFRA (UK) 2018 emission factors which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greenhouse-gas-reporting-conversion-factors-2018