Good music, delicious food, and cold drinks draw people from all around the region to summer events in Sioux Falls, but do we ever think about how much waste is being created and what’s happening to it?
According to the city event application and the Sioux Falls recycling ordinance, event organizers are responsible for offering recycling and providing a sufficient number of recycling receptacles. Events like Cinco De Mayo, Jazzfest, Ribfest, Hot Harley Nights, Riverfest, and more have made recycling a priority by partnering with the Ecomaniacs, a nonprofit group whose volunteers pick up litter, monitor the waste stream, and educate event-goers on what should be recycled. These events typically recycle around 30% of their waste, which equated to almost 20,000 pounds of recyclables kept out of the landfill in 2016 alone!
Often times, multiple vendors use different types of food and beverage containers, causing confusion on what can and cannot be recycled. The following items should always be recycled at events: Plastic bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard. Other items like dirty plates, plastic silverware, plastic cups, straws, lids, and napkins should usually be thrown in the trash.
If you are out this summer and notice an event does not have recycling, you can help! Send a comment to the event organizer asking why they do not offer recycling, ask the Ecomaniacs if they can reach out to the event to partner with them, or notify the city to let them know you’d like to see recycling there in the future. Starting a conversation about event recycling in Sioux Falls is sometimes all it takes to make it happen.
Another big issue events run into is the massive amount of food waste generated, especially if the crowd size is smaller than expected due to weather or other reasons. Often times this waste is dumped in the trash, which wastes food and fills up the landfill. Unfortunately there is currently no large-scale composting operation in the Sioux Falls area. If this were put in place, we would be able to divert a huge amount of waste from these events. An alternative option would be to donate unused, prepared food to places like The Banquet or the Union Gospel Mission.
Are you planning a Sioux Falls event and want to offer recycling? The city offers a container loan program for small events to “rent” recycling containers for free- See details here. For larger events, you can contact the Ecomaniacs to learn best practices and make sure you are recycling as much as possible! Check out this handy event recycling guide from the City of Sioux Falls too.