Summer festival season is upon us. Festival-goers have never had so much choice. Every weekend offers music lovers a plethora of places where they can camp, hang out with friends and watch their favourite bands. The British love a festival, where else can you drink un-chilled cider out of a can at half past ten in the morning without feeling guilty? All these festivals generate a lot of waste (and not just empty cans of Scrumpy Jack). How much waste is generated, how much of that is recycled and what steps can be taken to reduce it? Let’s investigate.
How much waste is produced?
This is hard to estimate, because you have to define what counts as a festival. Most of the big festivals release statistics about their waste, but many smaller ones do not. Glastonbury, the biggest of them all, generated nearly 2000 tonnes of waste. The cost of cleaning it all up is estimated at about £780,000. Glastonbury’s 135,000 ravers are generating 15 kilograms of waste per person. If we assume that figure is average and multiply it by a conservative estimate of 3.5 million festival attendees: we wind up with a figure of 52,500 tonnes.
How much waste is recycled?
This figure varies massively from festival to festival. Glastonbury is pretty average managing to recycle 54% of its waste. Top of the scale is Dorset’s Larmer Tree festival that boasts a 100% recycling rate. The figures for Reading and Leeds (the same attendance, same line up, same weekend) for 2013 and 2014 are interesting. Reading manages to recycle just over a quarter of its waste in each year. Leeds manages only 6% in 2013 and then gets its act together the following year and recycles a massive 82%.
Steps to Reduce Waste and Improve Recycling Rates
If ever there was a group of people who are ready to embrace greener approaches to waste management, you’d think it would be festival-goers. Where the proper facilities are in place – they are more than happy to use them. Just take another look at those figures for Leeds. The difference was achieved by a simple measure. They employed ‘green messengers’ whose duties included:
- Handing out recycling bags.
- Telling people about recycling initiatives.
- Making sure people used the correct bin.
- Staffing a tent donation point.
- Manning a post-festival salvage operation.
Simple initiatives like these dramatically raise recycling rates. Encouraging vendors to think about their packaging (e.g. the trend for good quality reusable cups rather than disposable plastic ones) plays a large part in reducing the base level of waste.
If you’re going to a festival this year, have fun! Try not to get so out of it that you forget your responsibility to recycle!
At WT Skip hire, we take recycling seriously. When you hire a skip from us, you can be certain that we’ll recycle as much of your waste as possible – over 90% of the waste we collect is recycled. Call us on 01493 668118 for more information.