WASHING AGAINST WASTE

- A Community Success Story -

 

Wash Against Waste (WAW) is a fully set up kit and trailer with everything needed to service a festival.  It includes hundreds of plates, bowls, cups and cutlery as well as urns, tea towels, sponges, smocks, buckets, trolleys and even a double sink fitted into a trestle table.  All you need is people, power and water.

 

The WAW kit is an environmentally friendly alternative to “disposable” crockery that reduces waste, is easy to use, hygienic and saves money.

 

The inspiration for the WAW came from Healesville’s Gateway Festival when in 1999, LeasteWaste and EcoRecycle supported the initiative of that Festival’s Waste Management Sub-Committee, headed by Linda Fabb, in developing a community wash-up kit.

 

People for Environmental Protection (PEP), a community group based in Eltham, decided to establish a kit of their own to use at Edendale Farm as part of the Eltham Festival in November 2000.

 

Faye Sheppard from PEP approached Stan Vermeeren, Regional Education Officer for the Northern Regional Waste Management Group (NRWMG), with the idea and was helped to obtain a $1000 Waste Wise Community Participation Grant from EcoRecycle Victoria to seed the project.

 

PEP used the money to purchase kit items and also promoted the project to the Nillumbik community obtaining many items at cut prices or as in kind donations from local businesses.  They also liaised with Festival Stallholders months ahead of the festival to encourage them not to buy “disposable” plates etc but use the WAW Service instead.  Promotions were reinforced with a number of articles in local newspapers.

 

“To ensure a hygienic service, the WAW Service follows the strict guidelines from the Department of Human Services Food Premises Code.”  Faye said. 

This involves washing dishes in a 4 stage process: First Rinse, Wash, Hot Rinse and then a Sanitising Rinse at 70C or more.  When the Sanitising Rinse temperature falls below 70C all the tubs of water are transferred “downfield” discarding the first tub (with the dirtiest water) and replacing the Sanitising Rinse with fresh hot water.  In this way water use is also minimised without sacrificing hygiene.

 

A team of PEP volunteers and school children were busy on the day collecting and washing dishes to ensure a rapid turn around so that clean cups and plates could go back to the food vendors.  Nillumbik Councillor Margaret Jennings and Hon Jenny Macklin MP showed their support by taking a shift at dish washing as well. 

 

The WAW Service was hugely successful.  An estimated 4,000 people attended the event during the day producing only 1 x 240L Recycling Bin and 3.5 x 240L Garbage Bins of material!  Over 90% waste reduction!  Good feedback was received from the public and vendors too.

 

The WAW kit attracted interest not only in Northern Metro Melbourne but also across Australia and was used by a number of community groups for festivals and school fetes.

 

The NRWMG was very keen to ensure that the WAW kit was fully utilised by other community groups and events and so provided an additional $2,500 in order to design and build a WAW trailer making the kit much easier for people to access.  NRWMG also arranged for regular servicing to ensure the kit was clean and well maintained for each hire.  Nillumbik Shire Council contributed a further $500 to help add to the kit’s stock and a local business, Spraymobile, has painted the trailer free of charge.

 

The WAW kit not only reduces waste but can also be a great fund raiser for Community Groups.  The WAW Service could charge a set fee or say 5 cents per clean plate provided.  This raises money for the community group while the food vendor also saves on the cost of “disposable” plates.  Everybody wins.  In the case of, say a School Fete, that may have access to a kitchen, a parents group may just want to use the WAW kit to supplement their supply of plates and cups.

 

Popularity for the WAW kit has continued to grow.  It has been used at small events like school fetes and major events such as the Sustainable Living Festival with over 10,000 people.  Bookings are now being placed up to a year in advance!

 

News of WAW success has spread with the Shire of Yarra Ranges making plans to upgrade their original WAW kit and a new kit is being developed by the City of Casey.

 

The NRWMG WAW kit and trailer is available as a community resource for festivals, school fetes etc. Hire charge is currently $100 plus $50 refundable deposit – which is less than half the true servicing cost subsidised by NRWMG. 

 

To obtain booking forms and a Users Info Kit visit: http://www.nrwmg.vic.gov.au/wastewise/community/waw/waw.html  or contact NRWMG on (03) 9499 7775.

 

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