Have you ever thought about all of the trash that can be generated at a food truck rodeo? Fifty or more food trucks and thousands of hungry eaters all in one place can make A LOT of garbage!
Keep Durham Beautiful Helps Out
When we started putting together the food truck rodeos back in 2010, we were overwhelmed by all of the waste that was generated and tried some different strategies to manage it – More trashcans! Bigger dumpster! Adding recycling bins! But, in 2015, everything changed. We started working with Keep Durham Beautiful to turn our high waste generating event into a Waste-Wise one.
Keep Durham Beautiful (KDB) had received a grant to work with large scale events in Durham to reduce waste. Quickly, they identified our Food Truck Rodeos as an event that was in need of a change. KDB helped to create waste stations where food truck rodeo guests can divide their waste into compost, recycling and landfill trash. They supplied signs to help guide people when dividing their trash into the proper bin.
Once the the bins were in order, KDB helped us to work with the trucks to increase the amount of waste generating material that can be composted. With their support, we were able to ban the use of styrofoam at the rodeos and encourage trucks to start using compostable and recyclable service items. With these changes, the amount of trash going to the landfill was drastically reduced. It was exactly the help that we needed!
Most importantly, though, KDB started the Waste Warrior Volunteer Program. The Waste Warriors are a team of volunteers that help staff all of the waste stations during the rodeos. They help guests sort their trash and educate folks about what can be composted and recycled. Often, toward the end of the Rodeo, the Waste Warriors take trash off the trucks and sort it before it goes to the dumpster. The Waste Warriors have contributed hundreds of hours and have been instrumental in making the rodeos waste wise events.
Empty Dumpsters and Happy Eaters
Now that the program is set up and running and Styrofoam has been eliminated, we found that most of the waste generated at the rodeo can be composted. Very little trash heads to landfill, it’s mostly just straws and plastic utensils! Since we started making the rodeos low waste events, we average about 1000 lbs of compostables and 800 lbs of recyclables are diverted from the landfill at each rodeo. There have been times when, at the end of the rodeo, the rented dumpster is practically empty!
The support from rodeo guests and food truck owners has been fantastic and really kept our momentum going. Rodeo visitors are used to dividing up their waste and are pretty excited to learn that most of what they throw away during the rodeos is composted. The trucks are happy to support the program and some have made changes in their general practices to make their trucks more waste-conscious every day.
Become a Waste Warrior Volunteer!
We are always looking for more Waste Warrior Volunteers. If you are interested in helping out or you have a service group that would like to join, we love to have you! You can read more about what Waste Warriors do and email [email protected] to sign up for a shift.