A Catholic environmentalist has urged music festival organisers to take “radical” action in an effort to cut plastic waste and pollution.
While welcoming a new green initiative which will see deposit return schemes trialled at music festivals this summer, Ellen Teague, of the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, has suggested that organisers should take a step further and ask music fans to bring their own reusable drink containers.
“It’s a move in the right direction,” Mrs Teague told The Universe, as she spoke about the trial deposit return scheme, which has been launched by the Co-op as part of its efforts to boost plastic recycling and cut marine pollution.
Mrs Teague continued: “But I would really like to see more radical options by festival organisers. These would include asking concertgoers to bring their own drinks containers, which they can refill on site and use again and again.
“It would mean providing drinks fountains, particularly water, at the venues.
“The banning of plastic straws from the festivals is very welcome because these single-use plastic items are unnecessary for most people. I’d like to see a return to glass bottles over plastic, but I suppose health and safety fears might override this idea,” she added.
The pilot scheme will see reverse vending machines installed on site at Co-op pop-up stores at Download, Leicestershire, Latitude, Suffolk, and Reading and Leeds festivals to help people recycle their plastic bottles.
Plastic bottles sold at the Co-op pop-up stores will have a mandatory deposit added to the price, with festivalgoers able to return them to the reverse vending machine in exchange for a voucher to spend in on-site stores. The bottles collected at each festival will then go on to be recycled to create bottles for Co-op’s own brand bottled water.
The company said it was the first retailer to launch a deposit return scheme, just weeks after the Government said it was planning to bring in the policy as part of efforts to fight the rising tide of plastic in the oceans.
Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive at the Co-op, said: “As the UK’s leading ethical retailer there’s nowhere better for us to start our trial of reverse vending machines than at some of the UK’s most well-loved festivals.
“Reducing the amount of plastic that makes its way to landfill is really important to us and our members.
“We’re committed to giving our customers ways to make more ethical choices, so this is a hugely exciting milestone in our sustainability journey to achieve our future aim of making all of our food packaging 100% recyclable.”
The trial has been facilitated by a partnership with Festival Republic who said: “We welcome over 350,000 revellers across these four iconic festival sites. It’s absolutely fantastic to think that they will be amongst the first people in the UK to have the opportunity to recycle their plastic bottles simply and easily using the reverse vending machine, in addition to the existing deposit return schemes at the festivals.”
The latest moves to tackle plastic come after more than 60 of the UK’s biggest music festivals pledged to ban the use of plastic straws this summer.
The group of independent festivals, including the likes of Bestival, Boomtown Fair and Shambala, have also committed to eliminate all single-use plastic by 2021.
Picture: Festivalgoers pick their way through a litter-strewn field at Glastonbury. (Yui Mok/ PA Images).