Denise, one of Recycle for Greater Manchester’s education officers finds out about recycling at one of the UK’s biggest festivals.
Last week I left Greater Manchester for my annual pilgrimage to the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary and Performing Arts to top up my enthusiasm for all things environmental.
When we arrived the sun was shining, the fields were green and the 15,000 bins were empty. An army of painters were tasked to decorate the oil drums used as bins in a variety of styles – anything goes. By Friday morning around 200,000 revellers had filled the fields, campsites and bins to their limits.
The festival is very proud of its environmental credentials and there are strict rules regarding waste. All festival goers are asked to put “The right stuff in the right bin”. Well that might be our Recycle for Greater Manchester message but even at Glastonbury waste is separated. The bins are identified by the lids stating; ‘food, plates and cutlery for compost’, ‘cans and bottles for recycling’ and ‘other waste’.
Even traders have to get on board. All cutlery used by market stalls must be wood, not plastic. All cups and plates must be made from a compostable material. Some traders prefer a reusable solution using porcelain mugs albeit with a £1 deposit. I was happy to discover that all traders have their food waste composted; large skips are placed behind all the market stalls and bins to separate the other recyclable waste.
The contents of all the bins are tipped into collection vehicles and taken to the on- site recycling centre. Here 1,300 recycling volunteers work day and night to sort the waste enabling the festival to recycle half of the waste produced during the festival.
Being a curious bin geek I took a trip up to the recycling centre where I spoke to the centre manager. He explained that there are around 60 people at a time sorting the waste collected from the bins with a further 40 sorting the traders waste to enable the festival to produce high quality recycling and compost.
On the subject of compost I really couldn’t write about Glastonbury without mentioning the new composting toilets. To put it simply, behind the façade of the cubicle is a wheelie bin with straw in the bottom. Outside the loos is a large container of compost, a cupful of this is sprinkled on any solid deposits. The liquids are drained and sent for treatment with the contents of the other toilets, but the solids are composted and used on land. Oh and they really don’t smell!
But of course the festival is not all about rubbish and toilets, there are many traders selling pre-loved items, mostly clothing but also a huge choice of recycled wares. I particularly like the jewellery made from old cutlery by hairy growler /. I can’t leave out Junk Manchester who provide our sewing classes and they had a lovely stall on the way to the Pyramid stage.
At a festival of performing arts you might expect something more unusual and the Mutoid Waste company certainly provided that with their show “A Kiss on the Apocalypse” starring huge mechanical machines and creatures created entirely from waste materials. If that’s not enough Arcadia a hugely popular late night area features a mechanical, fire emitting spider/DJ booth entirely fashioned from old military hardware – extreme recycling indeed.
So from the green crafts to pumping house music Glastonbury is an amazing place to see recycling and waste prevention working on a huge scale.
Want to see how we process your waste in Greater Manchester? Have a look at our R4GM youtube channel for films about how we recycle your waste.