UK festivals feeling the pressure to go green

by Michael Addison in Waste Management | posted:

uk festival waste


Rites of passage, summer festivals have become the trending tradition for audiences across all ages. In fact, in 2015 over 3 million people attended a music festival in the UK.  With so much choice on where to go and who to see, it’s not hard to imagine why the British love a good festival.


However, when the dust clears and the beleaguered campers get up to go.


How much is left to clean up?


It’s estimated UK festivals create 23,500 tons of waste, with 50% ending at the landfill or incineration. Reading is one of the worst offenders, with just 13% of waste recycled.


One major offender is plastic pollution, with bottles and bags littering the ocean depths. Harrowingly, if this wasteful plastic culture continues, by 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic than fish. The UK government has already outlined plans to help with these environmental goals; we covered this issue in our blog post: plastic free by 2042.


Now, what are festivals going to do about this?


Independent Festivals Going Green


Big name festivals, take Reading and Glastonbury for instance, publish their waste statistics yearly. On the other hand, there are independent festivals which do not. Therefore it’s harder to account for every festival waste output.


In shedding light on this finicky aspect, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), with known members like 2000trees and Dot To Dot have planned to ban single-use plastics from their sites by 2021. This initiative if successful should lead a forward-thinking transition towards the UK festival scene.


Another game changer this year is “No Planet B”, the UK’s first ‘zero-waste’ festival, is scheduled to take place August this year. Organisers published a list of ‘zero-waste rules’ on the Kickstarter which includes encouraging attendees to bring their own bottles to help cut out on plastic waste, advising festival goers to use digital tickets and not paper, as well as promoting specialist recyclable and compostable bins.


Since this is a startup, there are risks. The organisers are aware that in the case of wild wet weather, they would need to cancel the festival. Here’s hoping everything gets underway and it’s a success!


Established Green Festival Initiatives


The Isle of Wight Festival has a “Love Your Tent” area for people who register to respect the environment and take their tents and all their belongings home. In return for this, festival goers can expect hot showers, private cafe and salon.


Across the pond is the time honoured tradition of the burning man. For over 30 years, people from across the world gather in a desert for a week to be free from the outside world. Burning man is renowned for being a positive environmentally sound festival. Festival-goers adapt a “leaving no trace” policy. You can see what this means in the video below.


It’s one of the broader reasons for why people return each year.

Who knew helping mother nature would feel so good?


Now whether you’re a start-up business or a young festival, what can you do about your plastic waste?


Direct365 Recycling Service


As China bans the import of plastic waste, the race to reduce plastic grows steadier. The UK races down a path towards sustainability which has a knock-on effect upon small businesses.


We’re compliant with The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 and Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012. The existing legislation is always changing, with councils given greater power over their boroughs. For example, Edinburgh doesn’t accept Trade waste at recycling centres. As a consequence of this businesses then have to liaise with waste providers to avoid potential fines.


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