Saugerties Town Board told Garlic Festival saw solid effort on waste reduction – The Daily Freeman

SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — Organizers of the zero waste initiative at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival are planning to use the annual event as a template for other mass gatherings where solid waste can be reduced by requiring serving items that are recyclable

Greenway Environmental Services representative Josephine Papagni said during a Town Board meeting on Wednesday that there were 18.5 tons of discarded material over two days and all but two tons were able to be separated for composting or recycling.

“The key … was we had these great volunteers right at the point it was generated,” she said. “People would walk up (to waste containers) and they would tell them … this goes here and that goes there.”

The effort resulted in separating 15 tons of food waste, a ton of cardboard, a quarter ton of used cooking oil, and a quarter ton of commingled items. Overall, the zero waste effort involved 136 volunteers from SUNY New Paltz, Vassar College Marist College, the Rail Trail Café in Rosendale, Seed Song Farm, the Beacon Sloop Club, the Rosendale Women’s Choir, New Paltz High School, Rondout Valley High School, and various climate action groups.

Kiwanis Club of Saugerties, the festival’s sponsor, reported that there were about 23,400 visitors.

Papagni said the disposal effort for food waste amounted to a reduction in the transportation distance compared to the festival’s previous practice of hauling everything as solid waste. She added that there was a 50-mile round trip for Greenway’s vehicles from a compost facility in Clintondale, while solid waste would have required using Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency trucks for a 450-mile round trip to the Seneca Meadows landfill in the Seneca County town of Waterloo.

Among the changes made for the festival was a requirement that vendors use recyclable plastics or paper materials for items that were sold or used as packaging.

“We had to really walk the vendors through this,” Papagni said. “For the most part the vendors … did a good job. We had a few that complained but they’ll be back … (and) we had a lot of vendors call us ahead of time and say every place (they’re) going is requiring it.”

Organizers said the festival should have an easier time with the recycling effort in planning the 2023 event.

“We’re turning it over more and more to the community,” Papagni said. “They’re not going to need us in a year, at the most two. You will not need Greenway. You’ll be able to do this.”