Community News

Entering the ‘Eco Era’ at Yamba River Markets

The organisers of Yamba River Markets are delighted to be entering a new ‘era’ in their management of waste at the markets.

“It’s no secret we have struggled to manage our green (compostable organics) and yellow (recyclables) bins”, said market coordinator Gary Brisbane. “It’s hard for customers to know what items belong in which bin”.

“Our community market attracts between 2,000 to 3,000 visitors per month and it’s at community level that people fighting the so-called War on Waste have to meet challenges like dealing with the rubbish generated at the market.”

In response to the issue, the market coordinating committee (Live Prawn Productions Inc.) put a call out for collaborators to assist market volunteers in handling the three coloured bins. The call out was answered by Eco Era, a Coffs Harbour-based outfit offering eco-alternatives to everyday single-use items, as well as logistical assistance in managing waste at events.

Eco Era founder Meadow Greenwood said, “We found that many Yamba market stallholders already supply customers with compostable packaging, serving materials and cutlery. However, there are some tricky items that might appear or be labelled compostable, but actually have to go in the yellow bin, like coffee cups and lids”.

“Similarly, there are items that you would think are compostable, but which sadly have to go in the red bins, destined for landfill. An example is the large number of baby wipes which are usually made of polyfibers. These can contaminate the green bin very easily since they can be mistaken for regular paper napkins which are compostable”.

The Eco Era is inviting volunteers to help manage the bins at the markets and are developing cash incentives for local charities and community groups whose members choose to participate. For example, a coffee mug library now operates at the market and each $1 donation to borrow a mug, will be directed to the collaborating group.

During the January market, the Eco Era sorted rubbish between the bins, while talking with visitors and stallholders about which items are suitable for each bin. The result is a massive reduction in the waste going to landfill and a large increase in the waste directed for recycling and composting.

The next Yamba River Market will be held on Sunday February 24 at Ford Park.