By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Oct 04, 2011 at 1:06 PM Photography: John Schulze

Rock the Green, the Midwest's near-zero waste music festival, set a new benchmark for achieving near-zero waste in this year's inaugural festival held on Sept. 18 at Veteran's Park.  

While the rain may have kept some concert goers away, 92 percent of the waste generated at the event was reduced, reused or recycled. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an event with a similar number of attendees could potentially generate up to 3.5 tons of waste materials.

About 1,100 pounds of recyclable material went a nearby Veolia facility. The first-of-its-kind composting and recycling label system was used at waste reclamation stations throughout the grounds, with 1,720 pounds of compost sent to Veolia's Emerald Park composting facilities in Muskego.

Eliminating food waste from vendors and attendees, InSinkErator processed 1,200 pounds of food waste that was sent through four stainless steel sink units with commercial disposers. The educational and directional banners at the festival were also recycled.

Rock the Green was able to recycle 77 pounds of signage from the event. The grommets on each sign were also recyclable.

Aggreko generators used bio-diesel fuel from Fusion Renewables to power the festival's sound, lights and other interactive areas, and saved the city 240 pounds of biofuel, which was made from cooking oil grease waste from Milwaukee restaurants.

Additional energy was saved by Team Velocause, a competitive cycling team that provided pedal power to offset the electricity used in one entire interactive area of the festival.

All guests received a complimentary BPA-free water bottle, which could be refilled at fresh water stations throughout the day at no charge. Concertgoers consumed more than 750 gallons of water and helped save the equivalent of 5,750 plastic water bottles throughout the day.

"Rock the Green succeeded in providing world-class entertainment while minimizing our environmental impact," said Lindsay Stevens Gardner, founder and executive director, Rock the Green. "We're proud to make a lasting impact on the community that spans well beyond the festival, and look forward to holding the event again next year."