July 2005

Bluegrass festival goes green

Telluride, CO— Thousands of bluegrass music lovers from throughout the country converged upon Telluride, Colorado for the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival held in June. Despite record crowds, however, it is expected that festival goers will leave behind significantly less refuse than other events, thanks to an innovative approach to waste reduction that includes the use of corn-based plastic bottles, cups and plates.

“Preserving the pristine environments that serve as the backyard to our events is a responsibility we consider paramount to our success,” says Steve Szymanski, vice president of Planet Bluegrass, which organizes the annual event. “Unfortunately, the use of recycling as the sole approach to waste reduction proved ineffective and inefficient - especially in Telluride where recyclables have to be trucked 200 miles.”

Thanks to support from several visionary companies such as NatureWorks LLC and BIOTA Water, Planet Bluegrass has implemented a highly effective composting program. In 2003, the festival hauled 387 yards of trash and 257 yards of recycling and compost, which equated to 40 percent of the refuse being diverted from a landfill. The numbers were even better in 2004, when almost 50 percent of the festival’s refuse was composted or recycled. Festival organizers hope to increase that to 75 percent in 2005.

For the second-consecutive year, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival served food and drinks in packaging made from NatureWorks(R) PLA, a plastic made 100 percent from corn. Because NatureWorks PLA comes from an annually renewable resource, it is compostable. In 2004, an estimated 41,000 meals were served with cups, plates and utensils made from NatureWorks PLA and compostable paper products during the bluegrass festival’s four-day run - all of which was then composted by a local industrial composting facility.

The technology to produce NatureWorks PLA essentially harvests the starch stored in corn into natural plant sugars. The sugar is then fermented into lactic acid, which is used to create a clear plastic called polylactide (PLA) that can be shaped into a variety of bottles, containers, trays, film and other packaging.

In addition to the appeal of its sustainable source, NatureWorks PLA packaging has the flexibility to be disposed of in several manners, including recycling and composting, and fits most local waste disposal schemes. The material has been successfully composted in applications where that disposal method is desired and a commercial composting infrastructure is in place. NatureWorks PLA has been reviewed and certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) and is listed as positive for compostable materials. The multiple disposal alternatives of NatureWorks PLA means it can play a key role in landfill diversion.

 


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