The Scrumpy Skedaddle is a lot of fun, but also challenging to the Zero Waste team. A lot of people are served pancakes and cider in a short time, there’s a lot of cardboard to take care of, and the waste bins are very popular with the local yellow jackets. This year rain was also a real possibility, but the races went on!
The ZW team planned a couple of logistical changes to stay a) dry and b) on top of things. How did they work? Find out below!
- Compostables: 168.6 lbs.
- Recyclables: 511.2 lbs.
- Landfill: 11 lbs.
Landfill diversion: 98.2%
Comparison vs. 2017: Overall waste decreased slightly from 770 pounds to 691, with recycling and landfill mainly unchanged. Compostables dropped from 260 pounds to 169, due in part to less food waste (31 lbs. vs. 50) and possibly due to slightly lower attendance. However, there was a lot of uncooked batter left behind. See below for the related challenge and why we don’t include that in our totals.
Main contributors to trash were broken/chipped finisher glasses, a cooling pad, and items too contaminated with mud or food waste to recycle.
The Scrumpy Skedaddle takes place at an apple orchard and cider mill, with pancakes and cider for the runners after their race. Runners can choose a 5K, 10K, or both (the “Cider Slam”). Both courses run through the orchard, providing a variety of surfaces and some narrow paths between rows of apple trees.
The Zero Waste team is busiest in the pancake area, where the stream of runners getting food and drink, eating, and exiting is steady for a couple of hours. The waste piles up fast enough that the stations need constant attention. There is also some waste activity in the registration area, the line waiting for pancakes (mainly water bottles), and from food trucks serving those who prefer something more than pancakes.
Zero Waste Plan
We set up a Zero Hero tent next to the registration tent, and a set of bins in the pancake line, just inside the building in case of rain. Bins (all waste) were placed at the hand washing stations in the porta-potty area. Instead of a tent at the starting line, the Zero Waste team swept that area with handheld bags.
In the pancake area we set up a single large station under a pavilion instead of placing tents around the perimeter. The idea was to concentrate the ZW team to ensure full-time staffing of the station, and to keep them dry if it rained. The station had pails for food waste, and bins for compostables (plates, utensils, napkins), recycling, and landfill.
The “Ground Zero” sorting station was placed next to the 20-yard recycling rolloff in the front of the orchard. Waxed cups were taken to Western Washtenaw Recycling after the event. Food waste was fed to the pigs; plates and utensils were taken back to RF Events for pickup by My Green Michigan.
Food vendors were Chris Cakes (pancakes), Redwood Steakhouse (breakfast and lunch options) and a taco/barbecue truck. We provided paper plates and compostable forks to Chris Cakes. The food trucks had all compostables except for plastic utensils, so we gave each of them a sleeve of compostable forks to use instead.
What Went Well
The single waste station in the pancake area fit the event well, as everyone exited in the same direction. And when some team members were needed elsewhere, such as to weigh cardboard or staff the front stations, the pancake area station remained sufficiently staffed, and full bags could be quickly changed out. As a result, there was very little post-race sorting needed for those bags.
There were fewer water bottles in the start area, likely due to cooler temperatures, so sweeping the line after the race starts was efficient.
The recycling rolloff ended up being used only for cardboard (see below for why). But a 20-yarder still seems like the best size, since the cardboard filled well over half of it. Its new location in front of the orchard was convenient for processing the cardboard, with less distance from the finish line and registration than in previous years.
The Zero Waste volunteers were all terrific. Their energy and attitude was much appreciated by me and the runners.
After the Chris Cakes team left, we discovered several large bags of mixed and unsorted waste coated in uncooked pancake batter. This was unfortunate because we had enough ZW staff to help them sort their waste before it all got mixed. We also could have asked them to cook some of the batter to give to the pigs. I ended up having to landfill it (close to 100 pounds) but did not include it in our waste totals since we’d expected them to pack out their leftovers.
Due to the nature of the event, a lot of waste – finish line cardboard, aid station waste, and porta-potty bins – has to be processed toward the end of the event, when the volunteer shifts end. I got some help with final takedown (thanks, Scott and Alicia) but did a lot of sorting post-event.
While runners got glass finisher mugs for cider, the orchard still uses Styrofoam for their cider cups, and a fair amount wound up in our waste stream.
Post-Event Waste Processing
Due to time constraints and pesky yellow jackets, I took back all the bags of mixed recyclables and sorted them later. I also processed the small plastics, disposable gloves, discarded race bibs, Gu wrappers, and other TerraCycle items. The Styrofoam was retrieved from the trash bags and saved for recycling. Some dirty items, such as sticky syrup jugs, were rinsed and then recycled.
Opportunities for Improvement
Talk to Chris Cakes each year to make sure we’re on the same page regarding what they will do with leftover batter and their other waste. No assumptions!
See if we can adjust the volunteer schedule so more ZW team members can stay late to assist with station takedown and waste processing.