Why recycling is music to the ears at V Festival

Music festivals present many challenges for materials recovery due to the high levels of people and food and drink consumed on-site, but one programme is making good progress in targeting drinks cans

V Festival is a major music festival run simultaneously at sites in Chelmsford and Telford. As part of V Festival’s efforts to help reduce its impact on the environment and increase its recycling rate, the events’ cleaning and waste management contractors have been working with the out of home drinks can recycling programme, Every Can Counts.

Over 160,000 revellers attend V Festival across both sites, many of whom bring canned drinks to the event and/or purchase cans on-site. As with most ‘on the go’ situations, improving recycling at a large scale outdoor event presents numerous challenges: the audience is mobile, recycling is not front of mind, and the infrastructure is less well-established.

At the site in Telford, Every Can Counts worked in partnership with the cleaning and waste contractors, Ryans Event Cleaning and Panda Waste to develop a system to collect, sort and process cans on-site. Ryans and Panda set up recycling points across the site and picked up cans While Every Can Counts was responsible for communicating the recycling message to festival-goers.

Cans recovered were sorted using equipment provided by Novelis Recycling. Aluminium cans were taken to the Novelis Recycling plant, whilst steel cans were directed to local scrap merchants. Meanwhile at the Chelmsford event, organisers worked with contractor Nu Kleen and collected cans were baled on-site ready for reprocessing.

To interact with revellers at both sites, a football challenge was set up offering spot prizes and an opportunity to win tickets to next year’s festival in return for empty cans. This proved to be a popular attraction with campers returning with bags full of cans throughout the weekend as they attempted to improve their score and their chances of winning.

Drinks can recycling was also promoted by the festival organisers before the event on the V Festival website and included in the official V Festival App – featured as one of the main attractions of the event. Every Can Counts also actively used social networks to create interest and engage recyclers before, during and after the festival.

In terms of success, around 130,000 cans were collected at the Telford site – which equates to over two tonnes of aluminium and steel. On the whole, around 50% of the event’s waste was diverted from landfill in 2011, a steep increase from 10% in 2010.

Looking ahead, the real opportunity for growth lies within promoting recycling within the festival’s campsites. Around 90% of those who attend stay at V Festival camp and this is where they spend a large amount of their time before and after the arena is open. Every Can Counts’ plans for this summer’s festival season aims to refine its established model with specific focus on maximising this area of opportunity.

The programme will also expand on its marketing communications activity by implementing new interactive communications channels to expand the awareness and reach of the programme so that more consumers are encouraged to engage before and after the event, as well as during.

This summer, Every Can counts intends to build on its partnership with Ryans and Panda to support recycling at Download, Global Gathering and V Festival in Telford. The programme will also work again with Nu Kleen in V Festival in Chelmsford and with Biffa and local charity, Haylands Farm for the Isle of Wight Festival.

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