Candlemas Fair, Molins de Rei
As the Catalan saying goes: “Si la candelera riu, l'hivern és viu; si la candelera plora, l'hivern és fora” (If Candlemas laughs, winter lives on; if Candlemas cries, winter has gone”). In this case, it is not laughing because of the remaining weeks of cold, but for a good reason: the incredible transformation towards responsible management of this fair in Molins de Rei.
A centuries-old event that has become a benchmark for sustainability thanks to its more environmentally and socially friendly model. This turn reached its climax in February 2023 with the fair’s proclamation “Candlemas and Sustainability, an essential duo”. With the annual technical-agricultural seminars focused on bioconstruction too, and a new feature: healthy local cuisine for cancer victims.
With over 250,000 visitors and 600 exhibitors, this historic event, held in Molins del Rei on the first weekend of February every year, has made effective waste management one of its hallmarks. The organisers promote initiatives such as calculating the volume of selective collection achieved by the Fair annually to minimise the amount of waste generated.
To make progress in this area, a special collection plan has been implemented with more recycling bins in better locations to absorb more waste. For example, at the Wine Fair, the part of the Candlemas fair dedicated to viticulture, the organisers collaborate with Ecovidrio, the non-profit entity that manages glass packaging recycling, to ensure each exhibitor has a special glass recycling bin.
In addition, posters are placed in dining areas to encourage selective collection. In fact, the whole trade-fair site has posters displaying environmental awareness messages aimed at visitors regarding things like water usage and waste management.
Meanwhile, the modular stand structure, previously made from non-reusable plastic, has been changed to one based on melamine pallets throughout the site (over 2,000 m²). It is also worth mentioning the removal of non-recyclable carpeting from 50% of the stands, resulting in a saving of 1,200 square metres of that material.
All this together with other initiatives such as the use of reusable cutlery and recyclable or biodegradable packaging. As well as promoting paper savings by switching to digital visitor and exhibitor satisfaction questionnaires to avoid the use of leaflets.
Various sustainability initiatives
Besides the central focus of waste management, the Candlemas Fair has adopted many other measures aimed at responsible management.
Monitoring water usage points to rationalise its consumption is one such initiative. As a result, in places such as the Gastronomic Tasting demonstrations, visitors can enjoy the fair without wasting this precious resource.
Another new feature of the last edition was the energy efficiency drive promoted by the incorporation of hybrid generators at the catering stands. Instead of running all day, they shut down during periods of lower consumption, at night, for example, to avoid noise pollution in the neighbourhood.
All these responsible management initiatives are part of the Candlemas Fair’s commitment to tracking the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs). That is why so many initiatives are being carried out in that regard.
One that exemplifies this effort can be seen in hiring staff, which prioritises individuals with difficulties in finding employment and ensuring diverse representation in terms of gender and age.
As we can see, a great number of measures have been implemented over the years that led to this event being awarded Biosphere responsible management certification in 2021, which has been renewed every year since. But the journey doesn't end here, and new challenges are already being promoted to make the fair even more sustainable.
A Fair Sustainability Plan was developed outlining a range of actions to be carried out from now on in 2022. These include the ambitious event mobility plan being worked on in 2023, which aims to facilitate the arrival of the majority of visitors by public transport in 2024.
The 174th Candlemas Fair, which will take place on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th February 2024, will showcase all these actions and many more projects, such as the sustainable and solidarity fabric bag initiative. This is intended to offer an alternative to plastic consumption, with the proceeds from the bag’s sale going towards a solidarity project.
The goal? For the Candlemas Fair to be recognised everywhere for its sustainability and for the actions carried out there to contribute towards raising awareness and be a driving force for a global change.