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Love your festival, love your waste

28th February 2019

Roughly 23,500 tonnes of waste are produced annually at UK music festivals, according to Powerful Thinking. That equates to 2.8kg of waste per person per day!

Generally, waste generated from festivals comes from tents, cups, food containers and other associated items. Of that, around a third is recycled currently, whilst the rest ends up going to landfill.

At Viridor, we understand that you want to minimise the impact that your festival has on the environment. We understand that organising a festival must be pretty stressful and we want to take one of these stresses away by sharing our top tips for effective festival waste management that could help you and your festival.


Think about the waste materials being consumed at your event

Outline the types of waste that get generated by carrying out a waste audit of your event. Look at what suppliers you have on site, from caterers to shops and write down the waste that they produce. By doing this, it will help you see what waste your event generates and what bins would be required for your event;

  • Plastics
  • Paper/Cardboard
  • Steel
  • Glass
  • Mixed Metals
  • Food
  • Mixed Liquids

Once you’ve pulled together the main waste materials that can be recycled, you can set out a plan for your waste stations across the site.

Why not also put some onus on your suppliers too? Work with your suppliers to look into more greener options for their consumables and help promote a more sustainable festival.

Encourage your festival goers to recycle the materials into the right bins, #RightStuffRightBin, with separate bins for different recyclables.  Clear signage and located in key areas are an effective way of ensuring that you get the most out of your waste management strategy.

Reduce waste on the ground

Encourage your festival goers to take charge of their waste and introduce a litter bond initiative. At the ticketing stage of your festival, get your festival goers to pay a pre-paid £10 litter bond levy, which will be returned to them once a full bag of litter has been returned.

Alternatively, give festival-goers the opportunity to be a waste warrior and encourage them to go around the site and collect litter. On the return of the bags, give them a discount for the following years festival. Happy festival goer, happy festival.

Be greener with a reusable plastic cup souvenir 

When you go on holiday, you like to pick up a souvenir or two to remind you of the amazing time you have had, so why should festivals be any different? By introducing reusable plastic cups at all your bars across the festival site, you are reducing the number of disposable cups used on-site and also adding an additional revenue stream.

Bristol-based festival Love Saves the Day trialled a reusable cup system in 2015 and reduced the number of disposable cups used on-site by more than 150,000.

Make your reusable plastic cups tailored to your festival, with a design that relates to you. This will encourage festival-goers to keep hold of them.

Tents are for life, not just for the festival…

Every year, festivals face the challenge the people leaving tents behind after the festival. Some festival-goers leave them because there is a perception that they will end up being donated to the homeless and refugee camps, which some tents do but Teresa Moore, director of the environmental campaign group A Greener Festival told the Telegraph;

“It’s simply not the case. We co-ordinate local volunteers and charity groups and take as much as we can for the homeless and refugees in Calais and Dunkirk but realistically, up to 90 per cent gets left behind.”

Whilst others leave them behind because they “couldn’t bare to carry it”, “because it was cheap” or “because they lost it”, according to Powerful Thinking.

Start a campaign and get your festival goers to show their tents some love. Initiatives such as ‘Love the Farm, Leave no Trace’ have been introduced to encourage festival goers to take their tents and belongings home with them. Get your festival relievers to pledge their allegiance when they purchase their tickets.

Cut back on plastics

Big companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Waitrose have committed to cutting down on their plastic, you as a festival organiser should follow suit…

There have been 61 independent British festivals, including Bestival and Shambala, have pledged to ban the use of plastic straws already. As part of the Association of Independent Festivals’ Drastic on Plastic campaign, the organisers have also said they will rid their sites of single-use plastics by 2021.

Their focus is on ‘reuse not single-use’, so initiatives like the souvenir cup are a great way of promoting less plastic on site.

Become a zero-waste event

Strive to be a zero-waste event by re-using and recycling all waste consumed. The European Waste Hierarchy framework should play an important part in your waste strategy to become a zero-waste event.

Under the UK Waste Regulations (2011) all businesses are required to apply the Waste Hierarchy when disposing of waste. Waste Management Companies like Viridor must provide separate bins for segregating cans, plastic, paper, glass, general waste and other recyclables that may be at your event.

We have experience catering for a wide range of Hospitality and Event businesses, including large to small scale festivals, from music festivals to county shows and everything in between. Viridor work alongside event organisers at a strategic level to reduce waste, increase recycling across the site, whilst minimising your events waste footprint.

At Viridor, we have the knowledge to support any and all of your requirements with our flexible and scalable waste and recycling solutions

Discover how Viridor could support your festival or event by getting in touch with us


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