Inside the Fascinating World of Festival Waste Removal

February 25, 2016


Here we examine the waste removal efforts of some of the UK’s biggest festivals and how organisers of all size events can help reduce the impact their proceedings have on the environment.


What Can Festival Organisers Do to Help the Environment?

There are a number of things that festival organisers can do to reduce the impact the event has on the local environment. Some of these things include:

  • Insist food providers supply re-usable or biodegradable cups and plates
  • Provide recycling bins
  • Separate all bin waste to ensure no recyclable items are missed
  • Invent recycling reward incentives, for example, collect 20 cups and get a half price beer
  • Provide compostable toilets only

Festival Waste


Glastonbury Waste Removal Stats: The Festival Facts

Glastonbury is a great example of a festival which is trying to tackle the problem of waste. After Glastonbury 2015, 177,000 headed home, but the 900 acre site was far from the state it had been in a week previously.

In order to restore Worthy Farm to its former glory, 1,650 tonnes of waste had to be removed, including more than 5,000 abandoned tents, 6,500 sleeping bags and 3,500 airbeds.

According to reports by the Daily Mail, the festival organisers spent around £800,000 on waste collection alone, despite many of the 800 strong team being volunteers.

So, why was so much waste dumped? Did Glastonbury’s organisers not provide enough facilities? Well, festival organisers provided:

  • 15,000 bins labelled as wet or dry recyclable waste or non-recycling rubbish
  • 1,300 recycling workers
  • 1,500m² of solar panels
  • 1,200 composting toilets
  • Only Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar
  • Only compostable or reusable wooden cutlery
  • No plastic bags, only 100% organic unbleached cotton alternatives
  • A dedicated online guide to minimising environmental impact whilst at the festival (read it here)

Festival Waste


Reading and Leeds 2015: Environmental Survey

A few months later, in Reading Festival, a new scheme to reduce the environmental footprint of the average festival goer was launched alongside a survey to really get to know the waste behaviour of those who attended.

Those in attendance were offered extra services, such as tent cleaning, packing and transport to encourage festivalgoers to remove all personal belongings at the end of the week and reduce the amount of waste left behind.

So, why are the festival organisers doing this? Well, they’ve teamed up with their promoters, Festival Republic, after the event company found in 2014, 30% of all tents brought to Reading Festival (13,500) were left behind. Not only is this terribly wasteful but, with the average cost of a tent being £40, it is costly too. This meant around £500,000 of tents were left abandoned.

Whether you’re planning on attending a festival next summer or whether you’d like to learn more about recycling and waste collection services, we can help. Check out a few more of our informative and entertaining blog posts below:

Alternative British Bogs
When Being Green Goes Yellow: Pee-Cycling
Euro Trash!