In Practice: How to reduce waste at Britain’s festivals

With festival season well and truly upon us and new environmental legislation on the horizon, Direct365 general manager, Kathryn Skinner, looks at what can be done to clear up Britain’s biggest events.

Over three million people attend UK festivals each year and between them generate a staggering 23,500 tonnes of waste, equating to 2.8kg of waste per person, per day. Research suggests that of that amount only 32% is recycled with the other 68 per cent heading for landfill sites.

Add to that the UK’s commitment to be plastic free by 2042 and there is mounting pressure for festivals to find sustainable solutions to waste and recycling.

What’s the plan?

In 2015 ‘The Show Must Go On’, a report commissioned by Powerful Thinking in response to the Paris climate change talks, published details of the environmental impact of the UK festival industry and presented it’s ‘Festival Vision: 2025’, a shared vision for a sustainable future. The report returned a number of recommendations including reducing the amount and number of types of waste, to achieve a 50% recycling rate and an industry-wide approach to reporting on waste.

More recently in January 2018 Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced the British government’s environmental plan for the next 25-years. Part of that commitment was to abolish carrier bags, food packaging and disposable plastic straws, all of which have historically featured heavily on festival sites across the country.

For example, during Glastonbury, the world’s largest festival, more than a million plastic bottles are used and costs organisers almost £800,000 per year to dispose of waste. However, from 2019 it plans to ban the use of plastic bottles in an attempt to reduce waste and fall in line with the government’s plans.

Do green festivals exist?

There are already several one-day eco-friendly festivals taking place across Britain but following on from reports such as ‘The Show Must Go On’, there is a much greater awareness of the impact events have on the environment.

No Planet B, the UK’s first ‘zero-waste’ festival, is scheduled to take place later this year. Organisers have even published a list of ‘zero-waste rules’ which includes encouraging attendees to bring their own bottles to help cut out plastic, advising festival goers to use digital tickets and not paper as well as promoting specialist recyclable and compostable bins.

How can Direct365 help?

Many waste recycling services are now enforceable by law and new legislation is helping to drive a more sustainable approach to the treatment of waste. Direct365 has access to over 100 suppliers to help find the best services for each individual situation.

Whether you’re organising a festival or keen to improve the environmental footprint of your business Direct365 can help.

It offers environmentally friendly waste recycling and collection services, including food, DMR (Dry Mixed Recycling), hazardous, glass and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment).

Specialising in food recycling there is a particular focus on green initiatives and it uses two particular types of recycling to avoid sending waste to landfill sites.

IN-vessel composting: This mixes food and garden waste, where it’s composted for two to four weeks in an enclosed system. The temperature is around 70 degrees Celsius to speed up the composting process as well as killing harmful microbes. Once the process is complete, the new material is left to mature for up to three months before becoming soil conditioner.

Anaerobic Digestion (AD): This process uses microorganisms to break down the food waste. AD also uses an enclosed system, where there is an absence of oxygen to aid in breaking down the food waste. The result is methane being released which is collected and converted into biogas. The biogas is then used to generate electricity or heat. The AD process also creates a nutrient-rich material which is used as a fertiliser for land regeneration.

For more information on Direct365 and the waste management services it offers click here.

Kathryn Skinner

Kathryn Skinner

General manager, Direct365

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