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festival waste

Top Tips For Effective Festival Waste Management

Posted in Services
On 24 Sep 2018
By Hamza Fazal

Other than music, drinks, wellies and tents, waste is a common theme for festivals. Every year millions of eager festival-goers grab their tickets and pack their essentials, including toiletries, food and drink, sometimes packaged in cardboard and plastic that generates waste.

But how many people make the effort to discard their waste properly? According to The Waste Place, “there is an estimated 10,000 tons plus a year of waste generated from festivals, tents, cups, food containers and other associated items” (The Waste Place, February 2018). At Biffa, we understand the excitement and planning involved with hosting and attending festivals, but we also understand the impact that festival waste can have on the environment.

That’s why we’ve come up with some top tips for effective festival waste management, so the next time your organisation hosts an outdoor event, you can rest assured that your efforts are helping minimise the amount of harmful waste affecting the environment.

1. Outline waste materials for recycling and disposal

Before your festival begins, it’s imperative that you and your organisation have clear guidelines on which types of waste will be expected, and whether they can be recycled:

  • Plastics
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Steel
  • Glass
  • Aluminium

Are all these materials recyclable? Aluminium drink cans and foil wrap certainly are, but what about plastics such as straws, cling film and plastic bags?

You can encourage your festival-goers to ditch the plastic coffee cups by simply not providing them! Why not make it clear at the ticketing stage that you expect ticketholders to bring a reusable cup for their caffeine requirements? Recyclable cardboard straws are an easy alternative to plastic, as are re-usable tote bags in place of plastic carrier bags.

Once you’ve outlined the main waste materials that can be recycled, you can set up recycling stations throughout your festival venue. Our services extend to the Hospitality and Events sector, covering pubs, hotels, festivals and other outdoor events, with offerings like commodity collection and general waste.

2. Gather a team of waste pickers

As part of your business, you may already have a team ready for days of festival waste management. Teams of trained professionals are important for helping combat excessive festival waste, as they can help instruct volunteer litter pickers and are well-versed in which types of waste should go where.

Free entry to a festival is a great incentive to offer volunteers. Perhaps offer them free weekend passes in exchange for their litter picking efforts? Enforcing a rota will ensure any volunteers get their fair share of time away from festival waste management, where they can enjoy the acts and socialise.

3. Encourage guests to correctly dispose of festival waste

By setting up brightly-coloured, easy to spot waste stations throughout your venue, chances are some people will take notice. Label each bin to segregate waste effectively and give examples of the types of waste each bin should contain. This should help your business work towards effective festival waste management.

Of course, not everyone will be accustomed to the different waste streams, but it goes a long way in educating people about the correct disposal measures whilst having fun.

Strive for a zero waste event

Want to make your festival a zero waste event? Achieving zero waste at your event involves re-using and recycling absolutely every piece of waste produced. It can be a large part of a business’ corporate social responsibility, and can also create cost savings when done well.

There are many different steps involved with planning to go zero waste, such as procurement and target setting. Just a simple understanding of the waste produced is a step in the right direction.

All this can come under a quality event waste management plan. Having one of these in place ahead of your festival will ensure your team are all on the same page, and that your business can work towards improving its environmental credibility achieving effective festival waste management.

Having years of experience managing large festivals such as the Reading & Leeds festival and Truckfest, Biffa works alongside you at a strategic level to reduce waste at source, increase recycling and optimise your services to deliver environmental targets while supporting your event and if you’re lucky we may even send out a Wasteater…

wasteater at leeds festival

If you’d like to find out more about how Biffa could support your business’ next event, get in touch today.

About the author

image of hamza fazal

Hamza Fazal

Hamza is part of Biffa’s digital team, writing a diverse range of content on a number on industry topics. Hamza's favourite topic is Hazardous Waste, so look out for his handy tips coming your way!