Iconic event brings zero waste to center stage

Publish Date : 05 Aug 2021

The ASB Polyfest Auckland Secondary Schools Māori & Pacific Islands Cultural Festival has succeeded in saving tonnes of waste from going into landfill.

It received an Auckland Council grant as part of the Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund / Te pūtea Whakamōkito Para me te Auahatanga, which brings ideas to life and supports the target of zero waste to landfill by 2040.

ASB Polyfest director Seiuli Terri Leo-Mauu says they used the grant for a Caring for Creation co-ordinator to help put some of their waste reduction ideas into practice.

In its 45th year, ASB Polyfest sees thousands of young people, supporters, stallholders and sponsors converge on the site in South Auckland for the 4-day festival. You can imagine the amount of waste an event that size can create. But in 2019 they managed to divert 64.4 per cent of rubbish from landfill. COVID-19 saw the event postponed in 2020, but this year they stepped up again to the zero waste target and saved 78 per cent of rubbish from going to landfill.

Their newly funded co-ordinator worked at getting more stallholders and vendors to move away from things like the former favourite of polystyrene containers to biodegradable ones. Sponsors were reminded not to bring disposable plastic promotions with them. They worked with Para Kore Ki Tāmaki (another grant recipient) on educating those attending, and sorting at the waste bins.

Seiuli Terri Leo-Mauu says the zero waste philosophy is about taking things back to the values of looking after the land and the ocean.

“We are trying to tell everyone it’s not just about now, it’s looking after the next generations and what we can pass onto them that’s hopefully in a better shape.”

The festival is for young people from 12 to 18, and Seiuli says that’s a really critical time to sow the seeds of environmental consciousness. “We’re more than a four-day event, we have a 365 commitment to these kids, so that after the festival it’s about their ongoing cultural wellbeing. Part of that is working together as an ecosystem and giving them an understanding of how they can help protect their environment and futures.”

While still looking to meet the zero waste goal, Seiuli says in future they want to be able to go into schools and educate young people about the issue earlier. They’re also looking at being plastic-free by 2025. “The Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund was really helpful, and now we know it’s there we want to encourage others in the Māori and Pasifika communities to apply as well.”

About the Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund.

Auckland Council is offering grants of up to $50,000 for projects which bring ideas to life and support the target of zero waste to landfill by 2040.

The next round of funding is open to applications from 1-31 August 2021. WMIF projects are available for community groups, businesses, mana whenua, mataawaka, early childhood centres, schools, tertiary organisations and other community-based organisations operating in the Auckland region.

If you are interested in applying for WMIF funding, further information is available online, including lists of previous award recipients. You can also email Auckland Waste Fund, or call 09 301 0101 to find out more.

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