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New efforts at Edmonton Heritage Festival aim to make it more eco-friendly

WATCH ABOVE: Tens of thousands of people will attend the Heritage Festival this long weekend, and organizers say they've introduced some new initiatives this year to make the festival more green. Julia Wong reports.

Thousands of people are expected to pass through Edmonton’s Heritage Festival this weekend and organizers are stepping up efforts to reduce the event’s carbon footprint.

READ MORE: Heritage Festival and ETS agree to new bus plan after last year’s issues

A large solar array with 42 modules has been set up in the middle of Hawrelak Park; the energy generated from the modules is being used to power the newcomers tent at the festival.

“The more we cut electricity and use solar… it’s just important for everybody,” said Jim Gibbon, the festival’s executive director.

“I have kids and I want to pass on a nice planet to them.”

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READ MORE: Half a million people took in 2017 Heritage Festival in Edmonton 

Clifton Lofthaug, president of Great Canadian Solar, said the 15 kilowatt solar array collects energy from the sun and converts it into electricity, which is then converted in a sea can to make it usable.

READ MORE: Solar panels installed on Edmonton community league buildings 

“Even on a cloudy day like today, we are producing more power than what’s being consumed in a tent,” he said.

Lofthaug said he believes the festival could become net-zero in terms of energy usage by next year.

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“Our hope is to replace those pure diesel generators [in the tents] with a renewable energy system,” he said.

“To green up festivals, this is a perfect way to do it.”

Waste at Heritage Festival is separated into compostables and recyclables.
Waste at Heritage Festival is separated into compostables and recyclables. Julia Wong/Global News

The festival has been using biodegradable plates and cutlery for 10 years, according to Gibbon, and garbage has typically been separated into recyclables and compostables, which includes food waste, plates and cutlery.

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This year, the festival is recycling straws along with bottles.

READ MORE: Edmonton beats Calgary in plastic-reducing Last Straw Challenge

“Straw separation is really, really important to us now,” Gibbon said.

“Straws are big in the news. The opportunity to try and find a way to separate them out… if a straw is properly recycled, it can be dealt with properly.”

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RELATED: Edmonton restaurants join plastic straw ban movement, amid lack of committal from PM

Gibbon said the festival is also working to make food tickets environmentally friendly.

“We’re working towards no tickets on site. Electronic ticketing — so that gets rid of all paper we produce in tickets as well,” he said.

Heritage Festival runs until Monday night.

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