Are Festivals Dying ?
18th November 2022
As mass waste continues to rise across the globe, the festival industry is frequently given the cold shoulder about how much waste is generated at festival sites each year, but this issue is firmly rooted in the festival operations and must be addressed before it is left to the festivalgoers to tackle. Fighting change while delivering unforgettable experiences lies directly to the organisers, to achieve successful festivals in a greener way.
Tents are a big problem. Over 250,000 are left behind at events every year, many of which end up in landfill. A 3.5kg tent produces the equivalent of 25kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Director of Festival Waste Reclamation & Distribution, Matt Wedge, said up to 90% of tents left at festivals end up in landfill or an incinerator.
In 2017, Glastonbury festival hosted just over 200,000 people, with many of the festival-goers leaving behind mountains of waste. The clean-up cost came to a staggering £785,000, lasting a grand total of six weeks.
10 million plastic bottles per year. The report also indicates that UK festivals use 5 million litres of fuel and emit almost 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) every single year. At this current rate, it has been predicted that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
What should Festival Organisers Consider?
- Allowing use of only biodegradable disposables or re-usable cups and plates on stalls.
- Providing separate bins for recycling.
- Utilising volunteers and potential sponsorship for the clean-up and sorting efforts.
- Involving the crowd by supplying recycling bin bags and either a returnable rubbish tax or reward incentives.
- Consider health, safety, and hygiene.
- Being aware of legislation and being prepared.
Re-cycling Waste Products into Sustainable Items and the Promotion of Vintage Clothes sales at Festivals
In the UK, 300,000 tonnes of unwanted clothing are dumped in landfills annually.
After housing, transportation, and food, clothing has the fourth-largest environmental impact.
Welsh fashion designer Beth discovered that hundreds of tents were being thrown out after attending music festivals all around the UK. The inspiration for her business came from seeing them.
CLICK HERE to see ITV’s interview with the founder, Beth Cosmos:
What can be done?
Reusable Cup schemes-
Reusable cups are used in different ways by event professionals. For instance, some use deposit schemes whereby when buying their first drink at the bar, the purchaser pays a refundable deposit amount – usually £1 or £2 – on top of the price of their drink. When purchasing their first drink at the bar, some bars offer refundable deposit schemes whereby they pay a refundable deposit – usually £1 or £2 – along with the purchase price. As long as the buyer keeps the cup, they can return to the bar for additional drinks at normal prices over and over again. Afterwards, the cup can be returned to the bar and the deposit returned.
You might also want to consider placing ‘bins’ for reusable plastic cups at the exit points of your festival site if you feel such deposit schemes might lead to additional queues at the bar at your event or festival. These bins can be filled with reusable cups from your visitors, and they know they will be sorted, cleaned, and reused at other events, thereby helping to reduce the overall environmental impact of the event.
Festival in a Bag
Event professionals can promote external brands such as Anne Kapoor’s Festival in a bag. Festival in a bag was created as a solution for those who buy camping equipment and only using it once. Festival in a Bag produces a 65-litre rucksack which includes a tent, camping mat, water bottle and sleeping bag already packed inside. It also comes with a unique code so it can be tracked if lost or misplaced.
Over the course of a festival, tens of thousands of tons of waste are generated, almost two-thirds go to landfills, and the remainder is recycled, consisting of tents, plastics, toiletries, and other discarded items. It doesn’t need to be this way, just repack your empties and take them home, so that they aren’t left behind for others to deal with at a great cost to the festival as well as the wildlife and landscape. Where festivals are held on farmland there have been multiple instances of animals being badly injured by swallowing parts left behind by Festival goers.
The solution to tackling waste is not done overnight and requires years of trial and error with global climate change ever so increasing and becoming more of a worry. festivals are not something people should have to ever miss out on but CANNOT continue to operate in the same way, which is why now is more important than ever to tackle the problem in-house and reduce plastic consumption, offer festival bags, increase recycling points and promote greener festivals.