Recycling during the festival season
All the signs suggest summer has finally arrived; it's time to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate nature. For some, this will involve some relaxing time in the garden exercising their green fingers or small outdoor soirees. Others, however, will celebrate the summer on a much grander and louder scale. For these people, summer is about getting close to nature by camping in a field surrounded by thousands of people. Yes, it's the start of festival season. But aside from great memories, what else does the outdoor music season leave in its wake?
This week at ReGen we look at some lesser spotted waste and how these huge events are tackling a rubbish problem.
Festivals and outdoor events leave behind vast volumes of waste. At concerts, people leave behind an array of waste materials. Discarded bottles, abandoned clothes and even sleeping bags lay strewn across fields when the music finishes. The fields are obviously cleaned but the extreme levels of mixed waste can lead to less than desirable waste management techniques. As councils and contracted bodies try to shift the waste swiftly, recycling can find itself in the back seat. It's not just festivals either. A recent Virgin Marathon left behind 7-tonnes of waste. On that particular day, a quarter of a million bottles of water were given out to runners.
Aside from the litter, festivals can also generate pollution in terms of the infrastructure needed for the events. As single-use bars, merchandise stands and stages are all set up, the materials needed can result in massive energy output. Travel, machinery and waste are key factors in the emissions generated by festivals. At the UK's super festivals, up to 135,000 people converge on one place.
The result is staff, goods and visitors travelling from all over the world, racking up tremendous air miles. Even domestic travel booms as people arrive from various corners of the respective countries. The solution? Learn more about greener travel here.
Despite the seemingly overwhelming challenges facing festivals, their response has been tremendous. Organisers and festival-goers alike have taken huge strides in combating waste at festivals. Many events have become a beacon of how to reduce waste and recycle effectively. Glastonbury, in particular, has been a great example to other festivals. At the last festival, 15,000 clearly marked recycling bins were littered around the huge farm venue. The organisers of the super-festival are aiming to become a zero waste festival by 2020.
Other festivals are also making positive changes. Longitude and Co-op partnered this year to offer reverse vending machines to their patrons. The scheme allowed people to collect in store vouchers in return for plastic bottles from the concert. Co-op plans to take this initiatives and roll it out across a number of sites and stores as well as other events.
There is no doubt that festivals are setting examples to other industries with their green efforts. A lot of what festivals are trying to achieve is based on combining cultural change and technological advances. At ReGen Waste, we have applied a similar strategy whereby we use the smartest waste separation techniques and expert knowledge to improve waste management. Stay abreast of local and global waste management news by following us on Twitter or Facebook.