Over the many years Eugene has hosted large-scale events, our community has invested in waste prevention systems which have contributed to our ability to attract world class events to our city. Recently, the City of Eugene continued to build on this previous work of developing sustainable programs and infrastructure that event organizers can easily plug into.
In 2022, the World Athletic Championships were hosted in the US for the very first time, taking place at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. While the best track and field athletes in the world came together in a showcase of athletic achievement, the City of Eugene welcomed the world during this once-in-a-lifetime global event by producing a Riverfront Fan Festival at a brand-new park located near Hayward. This free, family-friendly festival invited visitors and residents to celebrate local food, arts, and culture, while watching a Jumbotron live stream of the World Championship competitions.
The City integrated organizational sustainability guidelines into every aspect of the festival and leveraged this hosting opportunity to continue investing in responsible event infrastructure. From the beginning, our intent was to achieve the highest level of sustainable event certification possible for the event while showcasing our community’s legacy of innovation around waste prevention.
Since thousands of units of single-use service ware are often a significant component of the waste stream at large events, one of the sustainability initiatives the City committed to was piloting a reusable dishware program.
Each day of the ten-day festival, staff and volunteers distributed plates and utensils to festival food vendors and received used dishware from festival goers at a central collection point while educating participants on the benefits of reducing single-use service ware use.
The provision of durable dishes at this event had a substantial impact—displacing an estimated 10,000 units of single-use food service ware from the event’s footprint, while modeling reuse for residents and visitors. We will be using what we learned from this pilot to develop a program that provides a durable option for future events.