Getting to grips with festival waste

Getting to grips with festival waste

Many festivals may be pleased to read that their waste management contractors report recycling rates of between 80 and 100%. . But has that waste really been recycled, are these figures realistic? And should the focus be on recycling rates anyway?

Ed Cook, Waste Management Consultant from Resource Futures suggests that if UK households are only able to manage around 47%, it’s unlikely that festivals would be able to achieve much more.  His experience shows that more realistic recycling rates, for outdoor music events with camping, are likely to be between 15 and 30%. And of course, there are always those items that just are not recyclable; tents, broken camping equipment, plastic film, and food contaminated recycling.

Of course many non-camping events achieve much higher recycling rates, sometimes between 30 and 50% but this is still a far cry from the 80 – 100% claims made by some waste management contractors. So what is really happening to this waste and how can a festival organiser hold their contractors to account? Ed Cook will be presenting a no-holes barred account on 19th November at the Kambe ‘Beautiful Festivals- Managing Waste Successfully’ workshop. He will be providing a detailed account on how waste is managed and processed and what to expect from each different facility after waste leaves a festival site.

According to the European Waste Hierarchy, preparation for re-use and waste minimisation should be considered before recycling and energy recovery.  Although re-use and minimisation won’t increase recycling rates, they help to prevent materials becoming waste in the first place; reducing handling, disposal and reprocessing costs. One example saw Shambala Festival reduce wood recycling rates from 62 to just 5 tonnes in 2015 by storing their wood for use at the 2016 festival. Measures like this and many more will be discussed by Shambala’s waste management contractor Greenbox Events and Festival Director, Chris Johnson.

The Kambe ‘Beautiful Festivals- Managing Waste Successfully’ event will also address audience engagement with Behaviour Change practitioner Rachel Lilley. Common  human behaviours will be highlighted including advice on how to change attitudes towards festival litter and the growing challenge posed by discarded camping equipment.  Find out more by signing up on the Kambe Workshop page and taking one of the last few spaces.