Bay Skate and Bike Park event goes 'near zero waste'

BSBP director Lawrence Kuh and Bay Village Green Team co-chair Brenda O’Reilly, who initiated the “near zero waste” goal of the May 26 rib burn-off, hold a small bag containing all of the trash produced at the event. Ninety percent of all waste produced by the 200 guests and 12 rib teams was either composted or recycled.

If you happened to be around Bay Lodge on Saturday, May 26, an enjoyable family event was underway. It was the very popular annual Rib Burn-off sponsored by the Bay Skate and Bike Park (BSBP) to raise money for their foundation, and this year saw a record turnout of over 200 people. The sound of music from Hypnotic Dog was gently floating through the air while youngsters competed at corn hole and twelve rib teams cooked ribs, each with a unique recipe, to the delight of the crowd and the judges.

This year there was a new twist – compost containers were set up in two recycle stations to capture the paper plates and food leftovers once the dinner was over.

According to Lawrence Kuh, executive director of the Bay Skate and Bike Park Foundation, being “near zero waste” is an important part of this event. “I am excited and honored to be part of this. We want to do what we can to make this community great and have the smallest carbon footprint in the process.”

To that end, foundation officials decided that the rib burn-off would become the first Bay Village event of this type to operate at “near zero waste.” To do this, they enlisted the help of the Bay Village Green Team.

So, how was it done? First, you need to purchase compostable products to serve your food. It is easiest if the entire plate can be tossed in the compost container when you are done eating. Many people don’t realize that any paper or cardboard-based plate (even wax lined) and paper products like napkins are compostable. You can also purchase special compostable cutlery that looks like plastic but is made of organic materials. If you use a commercial compost company, any and all food waste (not just the traditional fruits and vegetables) can be composted. This includes dairy products, bread, potato or pasta dishes, fish, shells and meat/bones.

You also need recycle containers to capture the bottles, cans, plastic cups and cardboard.

As you are planning your near-zero-waste event, it is recommended that you remove all of the trash containers and replace them with one or more recycle stations. Each recycle station should have a recycle, compost and trash container with the appropriate signage. Let your event participants know that you are making it a near-zero-waste event and enlist helpers to tend to each recycle station and answer any questions that people may have on the proper sorting. Also, make sure the clean-up crew knows how to properly sort the trash when they clean-up at the end of the event.

At a luncheon or dinner event, typically about 60-70 percent of the “trash” is compostable and 20-25 percent can be recycled. The remaining 5-10 percent is trash that will go to the landfill. To hit these numbers, you need to avoid using styrofoam plates and cups.

The compost from the rib burn-off was picked up by Rosby Resource Recycling, who operates a commercial compost facility in Brooklyn Heights. Rosby grinds up the organic material which allows for the composting of more than the traditional fruit and vegetables that are typically composted in a home composter. The benefit to the environment by keeping the organic material out of the landfill is significant – the food waste becomes a valuable soil amendment within 90 days and is used by area landscapers.

The rib burn-off was successful in hitting its goal of 90% reduction in trash. At the end of the night, there were four huge 96-gallon containers filled with compostable material, five recycle containers filled with bottles and cans, and one small bag of waste about the size of a beach ball. The only materials that were not recycled or composted were styrofoam and aluminum foil.

If you have any questions about Near Zero Waste, please email

Brenda OReilly

Co-Chair of the Bay Village Green Team

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Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 9:57 AM, 05.30.2012