2018 Sustainable Buzz is Tampa’s First Public Zero-Waste Certified Event

Sustainable Buzz Receives Zero-Waste Certification

WE DID IT! We are so proud and excited to announce that the 11th Annual Sustainable Buzz event, held on November 15th at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Riverwalk, is officially the first public event in Tampa to achieve the Zero-waste certification.

When our new executive director took the helm back in June, she was already thinking about the ambitious goal for the 2018 Buzz.

“I’ve attended some sustainability events in the past and was surprised to see so much waste. We wanted to do better,” said The Sustany Foundation’s Executive Director, Lorrie Belovich. “Part of our mission is to support environmental stewardship so we needed to lead by example with our own event.”

It started as a challenge but once the decision was made, the pieces quickly fell into place. We put together what can only be described as a zero-waste dream team! We found a local supplier of plant-based compostable wares, such as plates, utensils and cups, and agreed to provide these to our vendors. We also contracted with Suncoast Compost to provide on-site collection. Together we consulted with the event staff and vendors in advance to guide them on how to reduce waste.

During the event, all waste, including liquids, was collected and sorted into recyclables, compost or trash at staffed collection points. At the end of the evening, everything was measured, weighed, analyzed and processed accordingly.

“We were so excited to be part of this effort,” said Heidi Hoffeditz of Auburn Supply Group,” many vendors were surprised to see how easy and economical switching to more sustainable products can be and we are now working with some of them on future orders.”

So how did we do? According to Suncoast Compost, the organization that awards the certification, the Sustainable Buzz achieved 92% waste diversion. A minimum of 90% is needed to be a certified event. The full report can be viewed here.

“It was inspiring to see the attendees approach the waste collection stations to learn about sorting the food, compostable and recyclable waste with such enthusiasm. They were truly excited to be part of the initiative,” said Kali Rabaut, Founder of Suncoast Compost.

“For an event with 40 food and beverage vendors and close to 600 attendees, this was quite an accomplishment,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp. “It shows what we can accomplish with the right mindset, determination and partnerships.”

The event was also the first public event in North America to showcase the Coca-Cola reverse vending Machine (RVM) which allows customers to return recyclables into the machine for a small return deposit which can be donated back to the hosting charity. We collected 141 cans and recyclables.

As our first attempt at a large-scale, zero-waste event, we are extremely happy with the results. An event of that size generally produces hundreds of pounds of waste. We hope that other events in Tampa Bay will follow our example. That said, there is always room for improvement. The report offered a few suggestions that we will review for next year.

While we are proud of the certification, our work is not done. There were so many great conversations and relationships forged that we see the efforts extending far beyond the event. We have proven to ourselves that change IS possible. Not only was the quality of the event not affected, it was improved! It provided a fun engagement opportunity for our guests and let’s face it…wine just tastes better in a glass!

See you all at the 2019 Sustainable Buzz!