Fall has officially arrived, and it’s peak season at the cider mills. Combine a race with terrific apple cider, pancakes, and live music, and you have a recipe for a very popular event. And so it has proved for the Scrumpy Skedaddle at Almar Orchards. When even the race director (right of stroller) gets into the act with her new baby, you know it’s gotta be good!
Going compostable has reduced overall waste and simplified things for the Zero Waste team, but there’s still plenty of work for them to do. And the very lives of the orchard’s pigs depended on our diligent collection of the leftover food (just ask them). Did we leave the event clean and pigs stuffed? See below!
Results: 99.1 percent landfill diversion
Compostables: 146.7 lbs. Recyclables: 436.6 lbs. Landfill: 5.3 lbs.
Overall waste decreased from 2018 in all categories, and landfill waste was cut in half, likely due in part to the absence of food trucks. Main contributors to landfill were wrappers, fast-food packaging, tape, contaminated items, and a couple bags of dog poop.
The Scrumpy Skedaddle takes place at an apple orchard and cider mill, with pancakes and cider for the runners afterward. Race options are 5K, 10K, or the “Cider Slam” of both. The course runs through the orchard and pasture, providing a variety of surfaces and scenery.
The area behind the orchard buildings, where pancakes are served and pallets set out for seating, is the busiest for the Zero Waste team, as there is a steady flow of runners finishing, eating, and exiting for a few hours after the races end.
Main sources of waste include plates, forks and napkins (all compostable), disposable water bottles, and cups used at the aid station. Cardboard comes from boxes of T-shirts, medals, and finisher mugs, and plastic wrap from medals and cases of water bottles. Some amount of orchard store waste, such as Styrofoam cups, also ends up in our waste stream.
Zero Waste Plan
We set up waste stations (Compost / Recycle / Landfill) in the following areas:
- Registration tent, moved to the cider/pancake line after registration was over.
- Along the road to the starting line, near the porta-potties. The handwashing stations got bins for paper towels only.
- At the exit to the pancake area out back (also the “Ground Zero” sorting and weighing station). To cut down on bag changes, we used a 96-gallon cart to collect compostable items.
We “swept” the starting line road after the start of each race.
We did not cover existing orchard trash cans, as the store and play areas were open to the public during the race.
We did not order a recycling rolloff this year. Costs have gone up, and cups would need to be taken elsewhere anyway. Instead we brought a 15-foot U-Haul truck to load the recycling and compostables.
World-famous flapjack flippers Chris Cakes provided pancakes and sausage, and RF Events supplied compostable plates and forks.
Post-Event Waste Processing
Recyclables were taken to Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority in Chelsea after the event. Food waste was given directly to the pigs, and the bags of plates and forks were taken to Tuthill Farms the following day. The plastic bags and Styrofoam were taken to Recycle Ann Arbor, and a small amount of party decorations and small plastics were put in TerraCycle Zero Waste boxes.
Chris Cakes packed out all their waste, so there were no sticky syrup jugs or bags of leftover batter to deal with like last year.
What Went Well
Like last year, the single waste station in the pancake area worked very well. Using the 96-gallon cart with clear signage was an improvement, with fewer bags to process and less sorting needed. Even the unattended stations were in reasonable condition. Perhaps the “Zero Waste Event” signs and “education station” at registration helped.
The “Paper Towels Only” bins in the porta-potty area had only a small amount of water bottles and other contaminants, which were quickly sorted out.
The lack of recycling rolloff was fine. Everything fit into the U-Haul truck, although it was full. However, see “Challenges” below for one annoyance.
We had a great Zero Waste team, and most of them were able to stay through takedown, which allowed us to pack up and weigh everything efficiently and in a timely manner.
The absence of other food vendors this year helped simplify and streamline the waste collection effort.
Unloading the cardboard and bags of recycling at WWRA by myself took a lot of time.
Opportunities for Improvement
To cut down on disposable water bottles, why not have people use their finisher mugs for water after they finish? Set up the large water jugs with fast-fill spouts just past the finisher medals. They have plenty of time to drink it before they enter the line for cider.
Signing up a volunteer to follow me to WWRA and help unload the recycling would be great. Perhaps they could get a bigger volunteer credit?