Millions of partiers are going to leave a mess when they enjoy Fiesta San Antonio 2019, and that’s where Texas Disposal Systems Inc. and armies of volunteers come into play.
It takes teams of city workers, unpaid helpers and private companies such as Texas Disposal Systems to make a clean sweep after 11 days of parades big and small and 100 other events that make up San Antonio’s annual Fiesta blowout, this year from April 18-28.
When it comes to getting the job done fast, logistics are everything.
“There are so many moving parts to Fiesta that it takes many hands to help with the cleanup,” said Leticia Mendoza, marketing and communications director for the 41-year-old Texas Disposal Systems.
What’s more, Texas Disposal Systems, a Fiesta sponsor that provides waste solutions for many Fiesta events, also is handing out pre-printed paper bags for recycling during the celebrations in exchange for a TDS Fiesta medal when the bag is returned full.
The company will have booths at the big parades to do recycling education.
Texas Disposal Systems will be educating the public about landfill diversion with a spin-the-wheel game that brings home what materials can be recycled and what needs to go to the landfill.
Company officials suggest that Fiesta partiers bring reusable bottles and cut down on the use of non-recyclable products such as Styrofoam that won’t break down in landfills.
The company has a 30-second spot that encourages Fiesta recycling; it can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RYZRhRNVS0.
The business’ commitment to recycling during the Alamo City’s biggest party is in keeping with a vision by city officials to maintain sustainable solutions.
In 2009, at the urging of then-Mayor Julian Castro, the Fiesta San Antonio Commission formed the Fiesta Verde committee to figure out ways to make the events greener, or more environmentally friendly.
Years of changes and ongoing education of attendees has begun to pay off, including partnerships with private vendors such as Texas Disposal Systems, officials said.
The waste-management company also provides training and pre-event consultation to the producers of Fiesta events to improve recycling outcomes, company officials said.
Texas Disposal also provides more than 300 eco-friendly portable toilets along the parade routes.
That saved nearly 75,000 gallons of water last year, said Jennifer Dudley, marketing manager for the Creedmoor-based firm.
The company has a long history of partnering with local entities to enhance the cleanup of community events, officials said.
Brothers Bob and Jim Gregory founded Texas Disposal Systems in 1977.
Across the company’s operations, more than 1 million cubic yards of materials were kept out of the landfill in 2018 by diversion to its recycling and composting facilities in Creedmoor.
Other TDS connections to San Antonio’s biggest party are a sponsorship of the Fiesta Commission, $45,000 for the Rey Feo Scholarship Foundation and providing sponsorships or services to San Fernando Cathedral, Fiesta de los Reyes and the King William Fair.
During San Antonio’s 11-day celebration, there’s plenty to keep the vendor and other groups busy, city officials said.
For the Fiesta Flambeau and Battle of Flowers parades, nearly 80 tons of revelry castoffs hit garbage cans, recycling bins, sidewalks and streets.
“You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people and all they want to do is eat and drink,” said Marcus Lee, marketing director for San Antonio’s Solid Waste Management Department.
The tons of trash from the nighttime Flambeau parade weighed in at 48.13 tons in 2018, down from 52.99 tons in 2017, Lee said. The Battle of Flowers parade generated 14.78 tons of trash in 2018, up from 10.72 tons in 2017.
Flambeau recycling rose to 10.14 tons in 2018 from 7.14 tons in 2017, according to city statistics. Battle of Flowers revelers deposited 5.98 tons of recycling in 2018 compared to 4.65 tons in 2017. In total, the rate of trash diverted from the landfill to a recycling facility was up to 20.4 percent last year, compared to 15.62 percent in 2017.
The city will have 32 colorful canopies over recycling stations all along the parade routes. The city is printing 25,000 paper bags to hand out for people to place their own recycling items and gather even more from the ground. The bags are then turned in at one of the centers in exchange for a special Fiesta medal.
Meanwhile, the one-day King William Fair and parade during Fiesta takes up 15 blocks in the heart of one of the city’s oldest residential areas, “so we have a different set of considerations than the big parades,” said Syeira Budd, King William Fair manager.
During the day, more than 100 Brackenridge High School football players and coaches walk the grounds emptying full trash and recycling barrels and putting in fresh bags in an effort to keep as little garbage as possible from hitting the ground. Texas Disposal Systems handles the recycling and liquid waste from the fair.
“By mid-Sunday morning it looks as if the fair never happened, which makes the neighborhood residents very happy,” Budd said.