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Toward Zero Waste at Apple Blossom Festival 2023

Updated: May 31, 2023

A Toward Zero Waste working group including Rotary Clubs of the Wenatchee Valley, Winton MFG, WM, Waste Loop, Sustainable NCW, and Young Life provided composting and recycling opportunities for the first time at the 2023 Apple Blossom Festival. The group focused on attainable goals that could be used to progress efforts for future Apple Blossom Festivals to reduce landfilled waste. The group chose one day - Youth Day on Sunday, April 30th - to pilot the use of compostable items and collection of food waste and recyclables. The effort was supported by over 30 volunteers staffing “Toward Zero Waste” stations on Youth Day.

Winton MFG Compost Works, located by Lake Wenatchee, donated the compostable collection service for all compostable items, and Wenatchee Confluence Rotary donated some compostable service ware for Youth Day. WM donated mixed recycling service so that food fair vendors could recycle their cardboard boxes throughout the eleven day festival. Waste Loop worked with Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce to borrow Toward Zero Waste stations used for Oktoberfest.

Local restaurant owners who participated by providing compostable items on Youth Day included Cuc Tran, Inna's Cuisine, and Garlini's, along with Ben Paine with Cakes for College. Young Life volunteers rose to the challenge of helping collect recyclables and compostable materials in addition to the waste they've collected in years past, and said they saw a dramatic decrease in garbage collected that day.

This effort was also made possible by donations from Icicle Brewing and München Haus of Leavenworth, enabling the beer garden to trade non-recyclable plastic cups for 100% compostable cups. Rotarians hauled all glass wine bottles to 911 Glass Rescue in Chelan. Plastic bottles and aluminum cans that were sold in the beer garden were recycled by WM. These efforts made the beer garden very close to reaching zero waste!

Jana, Robbette and Kris show off the compostable cup collection in the beer garden

Here's what the groups accomplished in this

first attempt at moving Apple Blossom "toward zero waste":

The overall Toward Zero Waste effort reduced landfill waste

by 20% by weight and cut the volume of material going to the landfill by half!

  • Composting: 3/4 of a ton of compostable material, which included food waste and 14,000 compostable beer and wine cups

  • Mixed Recycling: Nearly two tons of material were recycled, including cardboard, plastic bottles and aluminum cans

  • Glass repurposing: 250 pounds of wine bottles were taken to Chelan to be crushed and repurposed as sand or gravel

“These diversion rates are very exciting and illustrate the potential of future composting and recycling that may be seen at other events in the Wenatchee area,” said Robbette Schmit of Winton MFG Compost Works. According to Robbette, this was the first large community-wide event in Wenatchee with composting service provided by a commercial composting facility.

The groups are pleased with this year’s success and excited to expand composting and recycling opportunities at next year’s festival. Look for more options like this in the area and at other future events as Wenatchee moves towards zero waste.

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