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Recycling at UK Festivals

There are almost 1,000 music festivals that take place across the UK each year, and with thousands of people in attendance, the amount of waste that these events can cause is off the scale.

Due to this huge amount of waste being highlighted by concerned individuals and organisations, there has been a rise over the years of new initiatives being rolled out across many festivals in order to try and combat the waste issue and the overall environmental impact these events have. Here we discuss a few of the initiatives that some of the biggest UK festivals are carrying out.

Glastonbury – Worthy Farm, Somerset
One of the most iconic festivals in the world, what started as a festival for 1,500 people in 1970 has grown rapidly, with a record number of guests recorded in 2005 - 153,000 people in attendance. With audience numbers this high, the festival site becomes a temporary town and with this comes a lot of waste. One of the main problems is the amount of plastic being used. Glastonbury are combatting this in several ways. Recently they have banned the sale of single use plastic bottles, informing people that they would not be allowed to purchase them from food sellers at the festival site and instead they should bring reusable bottles that can be filled at the numerous taps provided. In addition to this, it has been announced that a dance arena will be created using 10 tonnes of plastic found on beaches, parks and on the street.

Latitude – Henham Park, Suffolk
Latitude Festival has run several initiatives over the years to reduce its environmental impact. They have, like many other festivals now, a cup deposit scheme where people pay an additional £2 for their cup, which is reusable. They can either keep the branded cup at the end of the festival as a keepsake or they can return it to be used next year and receive their deposit back, thereby reducing the number of disposable cups significantly.

Green Man Festival - Brecon Beacons, Wales
The festival wants to live up to its name and try and be as green as possible. They work alongside charities to reuse unwanted camping equipment and food that they send to refugees around the world as well as to local charities by using designated recycling and donation points.

Cambridge Folk Festival - Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridgeshire
This festival is known for a large array of vegan food options as well teaming up with charities that offer a waterless eco-friendly hygiene pack for guests to buy. These innovative packs include antiperspirant in an aluminium can, a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush & face wipes and eco leaf toilet paper, among other things. This is to ensure people can stay clean without producing waste that is harmful to the environment.

A problem for all music festivals that include camping is the tents that are left behind at the end of the event, either because they are broken or because people simply do not want to take them back with them. It has been highlighted recently that people should not think of festival tents as single use items and should only bring stuff to the campsite that they are happy to take away with them. Not only are tents predominantly made from plastic, the tent pegs often left in the ground can end up being broken up into pieces when the ground is being farmed, and animals can end up eating them with damaging consequences.

Most festivals now offer an extensive waste system which provides people with colour coordinated bins split for compost, recycling and general waste. Many festivals hand out recycling and general waste bin bags to camping guests to promote recycling.

Festival goers love glitter, however people’s awareness of microplastics and the damage they cause has risen over recent years. Bearing this in mind, some festivals are banning plastic glitters from festival sites entirely and only providing glitter that is biodegradable.

Although there is an argument that festivals will never be able to be completely green, there have been some significant steps in the right direction over recent years which should continue to be developed in the future.

To find out more about what we do and how we can help with your waste disposal needs please contact us on 0800 083 7807 or visit our website for further information.

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