Glastonbury 2019: Waste management key priority for majority of festival attendees

Last year

Festival ticket retailer Ticketmaster has released its State of Play: Festivals study, which surveyed 4,000 festival-goers across the country on subjects including sustainability, music and “getting lucky”.

The survey found that waste reduction and recycling is the number one priority for 62% of festival visitors in summer 2019. Despite claiming to be environmentally conscious, the survey revealed that 38% intend to leave their tents at festivals, with 36% assuming they’ll be recycled. However, estimates suggest that up to 90% of tents and sleeping bags do not get recycled.

A 2015 report by thinktank Powerful Thinking showed that UK festivals create more than 23,000 tonnes of waste, 68% of which either ends up in landfill or is incinerated.

Ticketmaster’s managing director Andrew Parsons said: “British summer wouldn’t be what it is without festivals and these findings give us an insight into what festival fans really want. While it’s mostly all about the music and having a great time, I’m not surprised and encouraged to see fans wanting more action on sustainability issues and line-up equality.

“Festivals have always been a microcosm of wider society and with the continued rise of social consciousness we expect fans will only become more demanding of festivals to get it right.”

Despite the ripple effects caused by Greta Thunberg and the youth climate strikes, the Ticketmaster survey revealed that older festival fans are more concerned about environmental impacts that younger respondents. Around two-thirds (63%) of festival goers aged 55 or over said they wanted waste levels at festivals reduced, compared to 40% of 16 to 19-year olds.

Green Nation

Festivals have seemingly responded to public demands. Live Nation Entertainment, covering more than 30,000 shows and 100+ festivals, has issued its own “Green Nation” sustainability charter, which commits festivals such as Reading and Leeds, Download and Latitude Festival to an array of sustainability measures, including eliminating single-use plastics by 2021.

Last year, Glastonbury Festival announced an “enormous project” to create a site-wide ban on plastic water bottles for the 2019 version, which starts today.

The festival has taken steps in the past to reduce plastic bottle use. In 2014, environmentally friendly stainless-steel bottles and water kiosks were introduced, providing festival-goers with free refills. However, estimates suggest that around one million plastic bottles are used annually at Glastonbury.

A total of nine WaterAid kiosks and three Raw foundation kiosks were spread across the last festival, providing options to pick-up £10 refillable bottles or just refill different bottles. All water supplied at Glastonbury comes from Bristol Water.

Co-op has also confirmed plans to host reverse vending machines as part of a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles at seven UK festivals this summer, following successful trials last year.

The supermarket became the first retailer to host pop-up reverse vending machines last year at Download, Latitude, Reading and Leeds festivals. Building on the success of this pilot project, machines will be hosted at these festivals once more and at three additional events: Isle of Wight Festival, Creamfields and Tartan Hearts, Belladrum.

Festival Republic’s head of sustainability Victoria Chapman added: “It’s impossible to ignore the effects of climate change, so it’s a huge positive to see that sustainability came out as the number one concern for festival-goers this year. It is imperative that festival organisers look at how they can minimise the environmental impact of their events, to give fans the peace of mind that they can enjoy an amazing festival experience without adversely affecting the planet.”

Matt Mace

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