Resource Use

Scheme to tackle festival waste at Reading

Scheme to tackle festival waste at Reading
Thousands of festivalgoers will arrive in Reading this weekend
A new scheme to reduce the environmental footprints left by visitors to music festivals is being launched at Reading Festival this weekend (28-30 August).

As part of the scheme, a study will be undertaken at the festival to understand the behavioural causes of tonnes of waste being left behind by campers attending festivals, and services will be trailled to promote the removal of equipment.

Festivalgoers will be offered additional camping services, such as tent cleaning, packingand transport, to encourage them to treat their equipment better before ultimately taking it away with them at the end of the festival.

The project is a collaboration between event promoter Festival Republic, environmental sustainability charity Julie’s Bicycle, outdoor equipment retailer Blacks and design and sustainability consultancy WeAllDesign.

The group was brought together by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) with the help of a £20,000 grant from Innovate UK.

Festival waste

Every August Bank Holiday weekend, when Reading Festival and its sister festival in Leeds are held, volunteers take part in a salvage operation to scour camp sites, recovering abandonded tents, sleeping bags and camping equipment.

According to Festival Republic, 20 tonnes of reusable items were rescued from Reading Festival camp sites in 2013, with 19 tonnes saved in 2014.

Furthermore, a survey carried out by the group in 2014 found that of the 45,000 tents brought to Reading, approximately 30 per cent of them (13,500) were left behind. 79 per cent of attendees leaving their equipment said they were ‘too tired’ to take it back after the festival, while 59 per cent viewed tents and camping equipment as ‘cheap and easily replaceable’.

Estimating the average cost of a tent at £40, Festival Republic calculates that around £500,000-worth of tents were left behind at the 2014 Reading Festival.

Project will make festival more sustainable

Launching the project ahead of this weekend’s festival, Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, said: “We’re extremely proud of our partnership with KTN and Julie’s Bicycle, tackling campsite waste is an issue we’re extremely focused on changing.

“This trial at Reading Festival 2015 will see brand-new services available that will aid keeping camping equipment in the long run. We’re excited for the outcome and moving this initiative forward.”

Alison Tickell, Founder and CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, added: “Re-thinking our work so that environmental impacts are addressed as a matter of course is not only better for our planet – it’s better for our long term business prospects too.

“This project brings together the key protagonists who can help to make our festivals more sustainable, in every sense.”

Frank Boyd, Director of Creative, Design and Digital Industries at the KTN, said: “As is so often the case with a big challenge like this, the solution can be found when you bring together different expertise and abilities. The KTN exists to help bring businesses and people together for this very purpose.

“We’re delighted that the work we've been doing with partners on this problem has meant that, with the support of funding from our sponsoring body Innovate UK, we are bringing to fruition a project that could be transformative for festivals in the UK and beyond."

Find out more about the issue of waste at festivals.

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