Glastonbury Festival attracts over 200,000 visitors to its Somerset site in mid-June, creating a transient city of tents and music lovers, performers, the media, and service providers for three or four days. During that time, about 2,000 tonnes of waste are generated, and thousands of vehicles and power generators descend on the site.
However, the festival organisers have been early leaders on environmental and sustainability issues, and now it is claimed that the festival’s carbon offsetting measures are so effective that it saves more carbon emissions than it produces. According to a report in the Independent, this is partly due to its use of renewables, such as biofuel and solar power.
Thousands of trees are planted in the local area after each festival, to help offset carbon emissions, which the environmental advisory group, The Eco Experts, claim absorb around 800 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.
Josh Jackman, of The Eco Experts, said: “Music festivals are, by their nature, carbon-heavy events. Their often remote locations encourage the use of diesel generators; tonnes of plastic waste is discarded; and the energy spent getting fans and performers there and back is enormous.”
Almost half of the 2,000 tonnes of waste produced by the festival is recycled or reused, which is a higher rate than the average UK household, which achieves on average a 46% recycle or reuse rate. All power to the site is from renewable sources, mainly solar and biofuel, which, it is claimed, makes the festival not just neutral but carbon positive.
The festival has addressed criticism about the litter problem in recent years, by running a ‘Love Worthy Farm, Leave no Trace’ campaign. Ticketholders are asked to sign up to a pledge to use the recycling bins correctly, not drop litter, take all their belongings home with them, and bag up any waste and take it to a recycling pen.
There will be 100 recycling pens spread across the site, and single use-plastics are strongly discouraged. There will also be recycled British stainless steel pint cups available to buy for £5, which can be used at many of the cold drink vendors and bars across the site. The cups can be returned to the seller for a full refund if the user wishes to do so.
In 2019, the owners of Worthy Farm installed an anaerobic digester which captures greenhouse gases from the farm waste. This is then converted into a green energy source which is used to power the festival’s offices and production facilities.
The festival site also has one of the largest privately owned solar energy systems in the UK, with panels covering the farm’s extensive cow sheds. This provides of significant percentage of the festival’s power, and helps to offset its carbon emissions.
In 2019, the organisers banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles, and this year the crisps for sale at the site will be sold in compostable bags. The organisers are strongly advising all site visitors to only bring what they need, and take all their belongings away with them.
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