New Year's celebrations take a more sustainable step

At Play Sustainable City


Posted on 11 Nov 2019

Last year’s end of year celebrations might seem a distant memory by now, but for the City of Adelaide, the annual New Year’s Eve community event in Elder Park in 2018 will be long remembered as another significant step in Adelaide’s quest to become leaders in delivering sustainable events.

The 2019 New Year’s Eve event is getting closer and we're excited to announce that it will again reflect community demands to reduce single-use plastics and deliver a more sustainable and memorable event. 

City of Adelaide Sustainable Events Coordinator, Sarah Bruns, walks us through some of the environmentally-friendly measures rolled out at the 2018 New Year’s Eve event and what the City of Adelaide is working on for sustainable events.


Adelaide has earned its international reputation as one of the world’s great festival cities; facilitating over 800 events every year. The City of Adelaide’s annual New Year’s Eve community celebration along the grassy banks of the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari is one of the largest on the calendar. In 2018, it became the first major City of Adelaide event to implement many of the actions set out in the Sustainable Event Guidelines.

Developed across 2017-18 by Council in partnership with Green Industries South Australia and the events industry, the Sustainable Event Guidelines are the first response to address growing demands in relation to environmental sustainability.

Sustainable event guidleines cath leo photography
photo-icon Cath Leo Photography

Surveys at events in 2017 and 2018 and the recent State Government discussion paper on single-use plastics, highlighted the desire to move away from single-use items. Industry told us that appropriate waste management is a key feature of sustainable events and that both the community and industry are keen to make positive changes.

The Guidelines provide practical measures that can be implemented to make these changes and share the sustainable event story.

Many actions within the Guidelines have already been trialled at events in the city and continuous engagement with industry is planned, to ensure ongoing support along the journey.

If you were among the 55,000 (or so!) people who attended last year’s New Year’s Eve event in Elder Park, you’re sure to have spotted some of the initiatives put in place – but here’s a handy little list to fill in the gaps:

  • Single-use plastics were reduced, with water stations introduced and promoted for free BYO refills;
  • Single-use plastic straws were not available on-site, with alternatives available to those who needed them;
  • All food vendors used compostable packaging, which was later sent for processing at a local commercial composter to be used by local farmers to grow more yummy produce;
  • Three bins were provided for patrons to separate materials with volunteer assistance;
  • Six bins were provided to vendors to separate materials with an emphasis on recycling/composting;
  • Public and active transport was encouraged, promoted and supported with on-site infrastructure;
  • Sustainability messaging was shared through the City of Adelaide’s social media channels and through promotions by participating artists;
  • Thought-provoking local art using ‘waste’ materials was showcased to encourage reconsideration of what ‘waste’ actually is.

Thanks to the efforts of more people than we could count, some excellent results were achieved:

  • 100 per cent of materials were diverted from landfill;
  • 47 per cent of materials were sent for recycling;
  • 77 per cent (by weight) of organic material was disposed correctly into green organics bins.

We also know, through conducting audits and surveys, that what we’re doing in seeking to make events more sustainable, is important to the city community:

  • 100 per cent of surveyed vendors support making events more sustainable;
  • 96 per cent of surveyed patrons think sustainable events are important;
  • 95 per cent of surveyed patrons agree with a ban on single-use plastic straws;
  • 97 per cent of surveyed patrons agree that only compostable packaging should be used at events.

We believe that these results show that the Adelaide community is as progressive as ever and this year we will continue to take actions to build upon the 2018 success, embedding positive changes.

Sustainable events are important to us and progressing as leaders in this space ensures our integrity as ‘The Festival State’ is built upon.


If you’re part of the events industry, feel free to contact Sarah to talk more about the Sustainable Event Guidelines and how the City of Adelaide might be able to support the delivery of more sustainable events in the future.

8203 7280

Article by

Sarah Bruns

Sarah Bruns

Sarah is a traveller, having moved almost every year since leaving home, but Adelaide has grabbed her heart. This City is achieving great things and we are blessed to enjoy it together so let’s rejoice in RADelaide!


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