Zero Waste Beginnings at the Canal Market District

recycle that beer cup!

There are few things we love more than craft beer and farmers markets, so when we were invited to participate with this fall’s Canal Market District and Homestead Beer Company collaboration, we happily said yes!
In celebration of a successful first season, the Canal Market hosted a Harvest Ale Release Party on Saturday, October 29th, 2016, in downtown Newark. (See event details here.) Homestead crafted a real pumpkin ale with pumpkins and winter squash from local vendors from the farmers market. (Read more about their experience here.) Add in local wine & soda options, live music and your favorite food trucks from the season, and you couldn’t have a better way to celebrate our burgeoning local food & drink community!

Where do we come in? Cups, of course!

Many of you probably know that our favorite eco-friendly options for serviceware are our compostable options. Compostables are made from renewable plant-based sources and, when properly composted, are turned back into an environmentally beneficial resource. (Read more about compostables here.) But in the case of cups, recycling is a much more readily available end-of-life option than commercial composting here in central Ohio. So we provided a #1 PET plastic cup for the harvest ale. We encouraged attendees to reuse their cups at the event and then make sure it went into one of the recycling bins provided by our friends at Licking County Recycling. We’re partnering with them to help make the Canal Market a greener experience.

Why #1 PET cups? All plastic cups are not created equal.

You probably know about those little numbers on the bottom of every plastic product, inside the “chasing arrows.” That number signifies what kind of plastic it’s made of, but not necessarily what’s going to happen to it when you’re done. That’s a whole other complicated story. Many recyclers, like Licking County Recycling, have tied into collection systems sophisticated enough to collect all plastics #1 - #7 together. This makes it much easier for you, the consumer. Gone are the days of having to find that little number on each and every container and decide what to do with it.

The contents of the Licking County Recycling bins make their way to Rumpke’s Columbus recycling facility where everything gets sorted in a pretty high tech system. There, the plastics are sorted by number and sent off accordingly to various collection centers. This is when that little number matters. It turns out that #1 and #2 are the only numbers that are readily recyclable. This means that there is a market for the material, and an industry in place to turn it back into something useful. The other numbers - like common #5 plastic cups - are probably
getting “downgraded” into something of lesser value or ending up in a landfill after all. (Read more about the different plastic codes here.) So we think it’s important that when we feel we must use single use plastics, we at least use a plastic that can truly be recycled and we find a recycling bin to put it in when we’re done!

This is just a taste of things to come - next year, look for more of these efforts as the Canal Market District becomes a Zero Waste venue and Licking County Recycling sponsors Zero Waste efforts in the county.

What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is named after its goal - to mimic sustainable natural cycles where there is no “waste.” All resources are reused by other
members of an ecological community in a closed loop cycle. For people, this means designing and then managing our products and systems with this in mind. “Waste” is recycled or composted when at all possible, with the barest minimum ending up in a landfill. (Read more about Zero Waste here.)

Thanks to everyone who attended the celebration - the event was a great success and recycling efforts went very smoothly!