Hundreds of events are held daily in the world. Carrying out its important marketing function, events, alas, leave a negative makeweight. It’s about the plastic that is present at every event. Disposable dishes, banners, bags, stretch tape – after the event, all this turns into plastic garbage, which enhances the catastrophic state of the environment.
Is possible to hold an event without using disposable plastic?
Every year, humanity throws out 200 billion plastic bottles, 58 billion disposable cups, and 1 billion bags. How many percents of the garbage “pertains” to the participants of events is unknown. But in general, plastic waste contaminates the earth and water with toxic substances. The average decomposition period of the material is 200 years. In water, under the influence of the sun, plastic breaks up into microparticles. They feed on fish, and harmful material returns to humans – in the form of food.
It makes no sense to list all the risks that plastic waste entails. Now a specific task has been set for humanity – to reduce the amount of this garbage and save the planet. Representatives of each industry should be responsible for it. The ARENA CS event agency team decided to check whether it is realistic to move away from plastic by organizing a large international event.
Paper dishes and eco-bags made from banners
IT Weekend Ukraine 2019 – an event held in Ukraine, with purposeful moving away from plastic tableware and conducting original recycling of vinyl banners. The largest Ukrainian IT conference was held on September 7 and brought together international industry representatives. Participants of a reputable event shared their most important insights, results of their work and recommendations.
In this atmosphere of constructiveness and creativity, it was decided to introduce an environmental initiative. Representatives of the customer, together with the team of organizers, thought out the following ways of moving away from plastic:
- paper cups without a polyethylene layer;
- waste containers for garbage sorting are in the location
- reusable bottles for event participants;
- bags are sewn from banners: an example of the correct recycling of plastic.
The initiative was welcomed. The organizing team appreciated: environmental initiatives are quite realistic in the preparation of a large event, and in no way affect the comfort of the participants. Why then every event in Ukraine cannot yet become environmentally friendly?
Problems when searching for the alternatives
The issue can be considered on the example of the two most popular consumables – disposable tableware and banners.
Paper cups for drinks – what’s so bad about them? They look decent, make it possible to apply inscriptions and drawings to the surface, and the material is quite environmentally friendly. As a matter of fact, this category of dishes also contains plastic: in the form of a thin tape that strengthens the paper layer. The combination of materials ensures low price, resistance to moisture and temperature fluctuations.
There is an alternative in the form of fully paper (cardboard) cups, tableware made from recycled wood, corn starch or hemp. But such cups and dishes are 3-10 times more expensive than ordinary ones.
Each event is hundreds of tasks that need to be fulfilled within a limited budget. Unfortunately, customers are not always able to afford the extra costs. Very often, efforts to “go green” are stymied by some “trivial” financial issues.
The same situation is with banners. They can be printed on paper or fabric. But these materials are significantly inferior in properties to vinyl: cheap, wear-resistant, with a beautiful surface. It is difficult to find a worthy alternative in terms of price and quality. So far, the most practical solution is to find ways to reuse the material.
How to replace plastic in the event industry?
Specialists all over the world are looking for materials that, without harming the environment, can replace synthetics which is more usual to humanity.
Mushrooms – as packaging material
Special mushroom crops can replace polystyrene foam used for packaging and insulation, production of acoustic systems and goods for entertainment. Growing on the surface, the mushroom forms an integral composite. Heat treatment leads to the deactivation of microorganisms and hardening of the structure. The result is a waterproof and fireproof material, and its complete and safe disposal takes only 180 days.
Seaweed – for souvenirs
The Solaplast company produces shredded algae-based plastic. The granules obtained as a result of processing, allow creating bioplastics for toys, flash drives, key chains, packaging, signs. However, the composition contains petroleum products: the search for a method of producing oil-free plastic from algae is still underway.
Bakeys Edible Cutlery has a recipe for edible forks and spoons. The composition – environmentally friendly crops (mainly sorghum) and a little salt. There are no fats or emulsifiers. The shelf life of the products is three years. Representatives of the company say: the energy that is used to produce one plastic spoon is enough for them to create 100 environmentally friendly tableware.
Banana tree – for bottles and containers
On banana plantations of Uganda and the Canaries, annually 25 thousand tons of banana tree fibers were simply dumped into the nearest gorges. Now a more rational use has been found for them: a durable and strong material is the basis for eco-plastic. Water tanks, multi-purpose containers and even vehicles are made of it.
Hemp – for dishes
Cannabis stem composite is a fully biodegradable, non-toxic and recyclable material. You can make eco-friendly disposable tableware and many other details – up to building materials from it. To grow hemp, you need a minimum of water, fertilizers, and pesticides – and this is also better for the environment.
Corn – for containers, bottles and other tableware
Corn starch is perhaps the most common substitute for plastic. Tableware having PLA marking is even sold in many Ukrainian supermarkets. However, the material requires special disposal: if you throw it away with household waste, it will decompose at the landfill for up to 1000 years.
The conclusion is simple: there are many alternatives to reduce the amount of plastic or completely get rid of it. Anyone who wants to preserve nature will find how to do this by all available ways within the specific task.
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