An entire dumpster, sixteen cubic yards, of plastic cups from Music on Main ended up in the landfill last year.
That wasn’t supposed to happen. Music on Main has offered compostable plastic cups for several years, but RAD Curbside discovered (after painstakingly separating each plastic cup from other trash) that the West Yellowstone transfer station, the only place regionally that accepts those cups, was no longer taking them.
RAD owner Dave Hudacsko said that composting cups at West Yellowstone is “kind of a crapshoot.” Some years the transfer station takes them, and sometimes its composting facility can’t take any more plastic because it would disrupt the temperature and material breakdown of the compost mix.
“It’s not a huge volume of cups we had to dispose of but separating them out is a lot of man hours,” he said.
Hudacsko sat down with Teton Valley Foundation executive director Lauren Bennett this year and asked her, “How can we get rid of the cups? They’re a disaster, they’re gross.”
Bennett agreed, saying she was disappointed all those cups went to the landfill. She set a goal for TVF to eliminate all plastic cups from Victor’s free community music event by 2019. This year, with the help of RAD, Liquid Hardware, Spoons, and Teton Valley Community Recycling, Bennett is introducing a cup rental program at Music on Main, which kicks off on June 21.
“I loved the idea because it takes the barrier away from people not remembering their own cup and makes it easy for visitors to come enjoy the music without contributing to our landfills,” Bennett said.
Reusable steel cups from Liquid Hardware will be available to buy for $10. At the end of the night, you can hang onto it but if you don’t want to keep your cup, you can return it for the full deposit.
RAD is sponsoring the initiative by paying for the commemorative cups up front. TVCR is writing grants to increase the inventory. All the cups will be sanitized after every event in Spoons’ commercial kitchen.
“I wasn’t sure if the community would be on board but the support from our partners on this project really kept the fire going to make it happen,” Bennett said. “It’s been really fun seeing the collaboration form and having the support and encouragement to do this.”
Of course, everyone who is already in the habit of bringing reusable vessels for their beer or wine can continue to do so. This year there will also be a hydration station that provides free water refills, similar to the ones installed at JacksonHoleLive, and a free bike valet service offered by Mountain Bike the Tetons to encourage safe, green transit.
“I love to see Music on Main be the leader in this initiative. It’s the largest event where the shift is still manageable,” Hudacsko said. “This is worth the risk for social and behavioral change, because it’ll help the public get into the habit of making conscious choices about waste.”