ENERGY – Biodiesel fuelled revelling for conscious party people

17 January 2017

Next month’s Splore festival boasts a host of sustainability initiatives. This includes generators running on fuel from Gull, which is 20% biofuel. The organisers reckon they could do more too – if more suppliers get with the programme

Parties can be wasteful. Throughout human history the idea of feasting has been to consume more than we need to for fun. These days many of us in New Zealand are fortunate. We live a lifestyle in which any day can be a feast day. But we are also more aware of the damage this can do to our surroundings. So we are increasingly looking for ways to celebrate without expending too much of the Earth’s resources.

Splore is a good example. Held next month in the beautiful and historic Tapapakanga Regional Park managed by Auckland Council, it has placed the respectful experience of nature at its core.

So you won’t be surprised to be sipping something refreshing from a reusable cup. You can wash, reuse, keep or hand it back in. You don’t have to stand at the comprehensive set of bins for an hour agonising over which one it should go in. And the organisers don’t have to be responsible for 55,000 discarded cups at the end of the weekend.

For the first time this year you will also be able to get reusable plates and bowls to eat your festie food from. And there will be compostable loos saving 1500 litres of fresh water over the festival for the other end of the process.

But one of the biggest challenges for such an event is powering up the stages, cafés and bars. This is where Gull comes in. The company is New Zealand’s most experienced biofuel retailer. It has been selling biofuel since 2007. Gull supplies Splore with about 7,000 litres of a special blend of B20 Diesel Max for use in the generators the festival hires. The fuel is an ultra-low sulphur biodiesel blend, 20% of which is made from used cooking oil.

It’s a great way to lower the environmental impact of the festival. It also supports and promotes the necessary transition away from fossil fuel use.

Sophie Barclay is Splore sustainability manager. She says Splore loves working with Gull. The festival would also like to go further if it could.

“Gull has said it could supply a higher blend,” she explains. “We’re working within our supply chain to find a way to do this – but there’s a bit of resistance at the moment. If there’s more demand from hirers then we can shift this.”

Gull sustainability manager Karl Mischewski says the company is delighted to work with Splore again. He challenged all other major festivals around the country to follow Splore’s example.  

The festival already uses a solar-powered sound stage. It has also researched solar generators. Although companies overseas do make them, Splore has yet to find a way to get them here in New Zealand.

Biofuel or electrically-powered buses might be the next step. The festival has even looked for biodegradable cable ties. But again they couldn’t find anybody who supplies them.

Sophie has also been connecting with other like-minded festivals. She says: “There are lots of opportunities for businesses to address these issues. And with more events and festivals starting to demand sustainable options, there is money to be made.”

Gull has been working in partnership with SBN to accelerate the uptake of biofuels. A recent survey showed that there is general recognition of the importance of sustainably-produced biofuels as we transition to a low carbon energy system.

Find our more. Contact SBN’s renewables project lead, Phil Jones (