The Ethnic Expo 2021 series announced its sustainability results, which managed to keep 49% of event waste out of the Bartholomew County landfill through recycling and composting.

Organizers said the results significantly exceed the national recycling rate of 34.7% (according to EPA data, 2015). The four Ethnic Expo events in downtown Columbus diverted 950 pounds of trash from the landfill.

The Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) led the waste diversion effort for festivals with support from the local community coalition Energy Matters.

In partnership with Indianapolis-based Ecosystem Events, they implemented recycling programs at Juneteenth, Chinese Expo and Ganesh Festival of India events. For the Fiesta Latina event in October, they piloted a composting program in addition to recycling. The programs were supported by grants from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Heritage Fund, Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

Ethnic Expo is a series of events celebrating the cultures that come together in Columbus, to create a vibrant and welcoming community. Each event in the series highlights a particular nationality or ethnicity. With the contribution and participation of local residents, the events include authentic food, music and programs that represent the traditions of the cultures presented.

“We are delighted that the four Ethnic Expo events this year reflect the city’s concern for the environment. “The Citizen Advisory Committee seeks to lead local community projects that reduce the amount of garbage dumped in our Bartholomew County landfill. Our aim is to never set up another landfill, and since events have a huge impact on the creation of waste, this is an important area where we need to focus our efforts. This pilot project has proven that implementing recycling and composting can make a difference in the amount of waste generated at our local events and that this should be the focus of all local community events.

“The City of Columbus and the Citizens Advisory Committee have made great strides in reducing the environmental impact of Ethnic Expo,” said Julia Spangler, owner of Ecosystem Events. “The recovery of waste within the framework of a festival is complex. The CAC is fully engaged in the process of creating a detailed waste diversion plan, and its dedication has paid off with these excellent results.

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