CleanFARMS and Rotary Club of Etobicoke partner together to divert waste at Toronto Ribfest

Special to the OWMA News

By Barry Friesen

CleanFARMS recently partnered with the Rotary Club of Etobicoke to help bolster waste reduction and resource recovery at one of the city’s biggest food festivals – Toronto Ribfest. Through its ambitious sustainability plan, the four-day event diverted more than 86 per cent of its waste.                                      

Toronto Ribfest is the major fundraising activity for the Rotary Club of Etobicoke. Over the past 17 years, it has generated more than $3 million that has been put back into the community, and in selected programs in other parts of the world. The success of this event is dependent on the hard work of Rotarians, sponsors, partners and hundreds of volunteers.

As the general manager of CleanFARMS, a national not-for-profit environmental stewardship organization that runs programs to manage agricultural plastic and inorganic farm material, I know that improper management of waste can impact our health and the environment.

That is why CleanFARMS is proud to play an important role in protecting the environment by keeping recyclable materials out of landfills. Supporting Ribfest in this capacity contributes to meaningful waste management and resource recovery efforts in the community.

The sustainability plan for Ribfest included measures, such as eliminating garbage bins and setting up recycling tents at various locations at the event where an army of volunteers separated organics from recycling and the rest. Plastic knives and forks were also replaced with wooden sporks – a more expensive but environmentally-friendly option. Hundreds of volunteers and an around-the-clock green team were on hand to support the event’s recycling efforts. This year, we partnered with Miller Waste Systems, a local waste management company, and a member of the OWMA, to transport the material to various recycling and composting facilities.

In the past, Ribfest generated up to 16 dumpsters of waste, but with these new strategies in place, we’re well on our way to achieving our long-term vision – transforming the event into a zero waste food festival.

By the Numbers:

  • 24.7 per cent of material recycled
  • 64.5 per cent of material composted
  • 10.8 per cent of garbage generated
  • 24,000 beer and cider cans redeemed for deposit

CleanFARMS Inc. is a not-for-profit industry stewardship organization led by the plant science industry that is committed to environmental responsibility through the proper management of agricultural waste. Our programs manage agricultural plastic and other inorganic waste from farms across Canada and have earned a reputation of excellence around the world. We work together with farmers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, municipalities and provinces to create a safe, healthy and sustainable environment. For more information, visit cleanfarms.ca