The World’s Largest Brat Fest organizers hit their goals to cut waste produced at the May 22-25 event.
In 2014, Brat Fest produced 600 cubic yards of waste, of which 120 cubic yards — or 20 percent — were recyclable.
In 2015, 210 cubic yards of trash, 180 cubic yards of single-stream recyclables, 40 cubic yards of compost/organics and 20 cubic yards of wood recycled combined for a total of 450 cubic yards of waste, according to Pellitteri Waste Systems figures. Of that 450-cubic-yard total, 240 were recycled for a total of 53.3 percent diverted from the landfill.
As part of the Destination Zero Waste initiative, recycling and composting stations were staffed by volunteers, who advised festival-goers on how to sort their trash into the appropriate receptacles. Volunteers also educated the public about the importance of participating in green initiatives to protect the environment.
Volunteers also scanned festival grounds and disposed of waste that had not made it into the receptacles, and also re-sorted waste that had been disposed of incorrectly.
A total of 1,200 volunteer hours were dedicated to the Zero Waste initiative, with volunteers earning $8 per hour for their charity of choice. This translated into an additional $9,600 in donations to area charities.
This year’s Brat Fest raised an estimated $125,000 with volunteers from 100 Dane County charities, including Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Second Harvest Food Bank and Scouts With Special Needs. Brat Fest has now raised more than $1.5 million in its 33-year run.
Destination Zero Waste will likely serve as a blueprint for future Zero Waste festivals and events. Brat Fest organizers have already been contacted by other organizations asking for guidance and materials to assist them in striving for Zero Waste at other events in the Madison area.
“I am very impressed with the community’s reaction to help us in this effort,” Jeff Schroeter of Brat Fest said in a statement. “This year’s initiative surpassed our original goals, and Brat Fest is committed to do even better next year based on experience with this initial effort.”