WOMAD: Zero Waste Festival #2

Working at a bin station

Following on from the success of volunteering at Splore in February and seeing waste diversion first hand, the BF Callan and I volunteered for WOMAD. WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance) is based in New Plymouth, Taranaki and is a 3 day festival with on site camping and day passes as well. As we had to drive down from Auckland we camped on site for the length of the 4 day trip. WOMAD was about 3 times the capacity as Splore, with approx. about 15,000 attendees of all ages. The zero waste volunteer team was the largest of the volunteer teams, around 140 and was coordinated by Beyond The Bin. Beyond The Bin are based in the Bay of Plenty and run the Mount Maunganui Gourmet Night Market as a zero waste weekly event. This is hugely impressive as night markets are often full of single use plastic and Styrofoam.

Callan pulling the trolley for rubbish bag collection

Volunteer duties ranged from being based on the bins, picking up litter,  helping at the vendor bins, picking up the trash bags from the bins using a push trolley and sorting the trash at the hub. Callan and I did all of the jobs except sorting, which was one of the less enjoyable jobs (and one we got a lot of experience at Splore). While most of the rubbish was correctly sorted at the waste stations, they were rechecked back at the zero waste hub to ensure no contamination of recycling and compost. All volunteers were given shirts, usually I don’t buy things new or for one off events but the shirts were mandatory. I intend on making mine in to a no-sew tote bag.

An un-manned bin station at the campsite on the last day

The waste stations were equipped with compost,  recycling and landfill bins as well as waste educators (the volunteers) and like Splore all of the vendors had compostable packaging and Globlets were also in use, although with no refund scheme (unlike Splore). There was a $5 bond on wine bottles to incentivize their return. There was also a small wash station for washing Globlets and other reusables and water taps to refill bottles. I did find it a bit bizarre that there was WOMAD branded (plastic) bottled water for sale however. Unfortunately there was no soft plastic recycling,  this is because currently Auckland is the only city in NZ to have this scheme. Like Splore, WOMAD aims to be a zero waste festival, and considering its size we did a really good job.

WOMAD 2016 waste stats:

  • Festival diversion: 82%, up by 3% in 2015
  • Camp diversion: 80%, from 33% in 2015 (47% increase)
  • Overall landfill decreased from 11,272 kg in 2015 to 4720 kg, a massive 6,553 kg decrease
  • Glass recycling was 9770 kg

The glass is colour separated and was sent to OI in Penrose, Auckland, the first time this has happened at WOMAD.  To find out more about how OI recycle the glass, check out their video.

Signs inside the waste stations

While Splore had a slightly better diversion rate, it was a easier to get on the sustainability band wagon as Splore was way smaller and perhaps a more like minded crowd. Splore also heavily marketed pre-cycling and pushed zero waste. However WOMAD was a lot more laid back festival vibe with less focus on looks and dress up than Splore, as a result there was significantly less costume waste and glow sticks than Splore. The main comments coming from the WOMAD crowd was how clean the event was, and the support for the waste teams was positive; giving us encouragement and feeling like they had let us down when they had to use the landfill bins.

Callan & I were fortunate to be located at the bin by the main stage on Saturday night
Having been to both Splore and WOMAD, I recall my experience at the one day music festival Laneway back in January. The amount of single use plastic that was available on-site at Laneway and the subsequent leftover trash was shocking, especially as the venue was along the waterfront and a slight breeze could have very easily blown all of this plastic in to the harbour. I can now really appreciate the effort that goes in to making these multi day festivals zero waste. Auckland City Limits, another one day music festival was on the same weekend as WOMAD, they used Globlets with a refund scheme, which would have dramatically improved the landfill diversion rate, especially with an incentive to collect and return cups, at $1 each. Laneway had handed out single use plastic cups all day long, this one switch would have seen a massive waste reduction, I hope next year Laneway considers the zero waste alternative.

Check out some snaps from our time in New Plymouth:

Me chilling out at the campsite. I take these re-used plastic crates camping, they are super multi-purpose

Only a glimpse of Mt Taranaki
New Plymouth had some seriously cool street art
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
Naturally we found a Bin Inn also!
Milkshake in my own cup & ice-cream

For more info on zero waste at WOMAD:
Kim Renshaw, the creator of Beyond The Bin gave a great interview for Radio NZ following WOMAD, listen here.
Sam Judd, the co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines wrote an article for NZ Herald here.
Bay Of Plenty Times article here.

UPDATE 7/4/16

I made my shirt in to a tote bag!

Tutorial I used can be found here



  1. cweir   •  

    Excellent blog post! You should become a zw festival consultant. Any luck with pasta at the bin Inn? Lol. Great reading Amanda.

  2. Amanda Chapman   •  

    Thanks Candace 🙂 That's basically what Beyond The Bin do! Alas no pasta at Bin Inn, it was actually fairly packaged for a Bin Inn, but we did find bulk coconut oil.

  3. Helen McGonigal   •  

    Great blog post! I'm really impressed with the reduction in landfill, what an achievement. 🙂

  4. Kristy Lorson (A Zero Waste Warrior)   •  

    From what I've heard, WOMAD is an amazing event and it sounds like they run a pretty tight ship, zero waste-wise. It does make me a little sad though that, despite their positive environmental messages, that it's all paid for by Shell Oil and Todd Energy (and that they sell bottled water?!). The hypocrisy is a bit gross. I really hope that one day, WOMAD finds sponsors that are doing more than just green-washing…when they do, I look forward to taking a family trip to Taranaki to introduce our three-year old daughter to the wonders of live world music :).

  5. Kate Javady   •  

    Looks like good, clean fun.

  6. Amanda Chapman   •  

    Yes I was horrified by the sponsors, I didn't mention it in my post as I'd probably just rant a bit! I absolutely agree with you though.

  7. Kali   •  

    Hi Amanda!

    That looks like a super fun event. I wish we had something like that in the States! I'm definitely going to be using that tutorial you posted at the end. I have so many t-shirts that I have been wanting to turn into totes, but I hate sewing haha! Thanks for sharing!


  8. Amanda Chapman   •  

    Thanks for reading Kali, haha I prefer to use a sewing machine but I don't own one, I'm a terrible hand sewer.

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