Glastonbury Plastic Free 2019

On average, music festivals generate 23,500 tonnes of waste, including plastic bottles, food containers, food waste, clothing and abandoned tents.

This year, Michael and Emily Eavis made the historic decision to make Glastonbury Festival 2019 plastic-free.

“We feel that the public very much bought into our campaign to reduce, reuse and recycle and we’re very pleased with the results,” a spokesperson said.

One of the highlights of the festival was the appearance of Sir David Attenborough praising Glastonbury’s decision to go plastic free. The highlight of his speech was the statistic “more than one million plastic bottles will have been saved by the over 200,000 festival attendees”.

Biodegradable confetti was used in performances at this year’s event, including the shows by Years And Years and Kylie Minogue, with roughly 40% of festival-goers traveling to Glastonbury also using public transport a big push has been made to make Glastonbury as energy efficient as possible.

How successful was Glastonbury’s plastic-free commitment?

Despite Glastonbury’s commitment to reducing plastic waste, this did not stop attendees bringing plastic with them and leaving it abandoned across Worthy Farm. People still bringing in throwaway plastic bottles clandestinely, as well as single-use camping chairs that were bound to be left behind. 1,300 volunteers are currently 90% completed the long clean-up operation to deal with all the leftover camping chairs, plastic bottles, blow-up mattresses, flip flops and cool boxes.

Unfortunately, it also emerged that the onsite Co-op sold items in non-recyclable packaging too, which was not in sync with the rest of the festival’s ethos. Most memorably, Co-op’s bags of ice were non-recyclable which were popular as temperatures soared to 28C.

Glastonbury is certainly leading the way in banning plastic from large scale events, but we still have a long way to go if attendees are going to commit to an anti-plastic frame of mind. As we saw with Co-op, brands and sponsors have to commit too for the impact we need to shape the future of music festivals.

If you’re a business looking for help with your summer event waste management, don’t hesitate to get in touch with North West Waste to learn more about what we do.

Donating unsold food to the homeless

Following the French government’s decision to prohibit supermarket food waste in 2016, the rest of the world has begun to take notice. Fed up with food waste on an outrageous scale, it has been suggested unsold food be donated to homeless charities and food banks. Among reports that like Morrisons, Tesco have committed to donating unsold food to the needy, we’ve been wondering about the practicalities of such a decision. What will be the process to acquire unsold food? Are there are criteria or pre-qualification? Or will the homeless simply visit their nearest Tesco? It isn’t only homeless people who go foraging in supermarket bins nowadays. Growning numbers of people from all walks of life are partaking in ‘dumpster diving’, highlighted in the 2009 film Dive! by Jeremy Seifert. With many supermarkets taking drastic measures to prevent this practice – padlocking bins, spoiling perfectly edible food with bleach – we are left questioning the morality of the consumerist giants; in 2013, it emerged that Abercrombie & Fitch immediately dispose of any blemished clothing. An unnamed store manager said, A&F doesn’t want to create the image that just anybody, poor people, can wear their clothing. It isn’t simply food that’s past its sell-by date which ends up in the bin. Often perfectly edible but visually imperfect food is discarded – a bruised apple, a dented tin of beans. Discarded meat is a subject of particular controversy, the animal having often been bred purely for the sake of food. During the 2013 horse meat scandal, Tesco disposed of the perfectly edible meat because British culture deemed the consumption of horse meat as disgusting. The chain neglected to ask the needy themselves if they would care to try the meat. By regulating food waste, citizens of lower means will be able to acquire food with dignity. Unspoiled food will go directly to food banks, where it must be stocked hygienically and distributed with human interaction and a sense of community, as opposed to handed out on the street. There is the question of whether simply donating to the homeless is enough. In the face of benefit sanctions, wage levels remaining stagnant and high amount of people in debt, many people with a roof over their head are also struggling to make ends meet. Although the decision to donate all surplus food to the needy is admirable, it does raise the question of whether the government is simply transferring responsibility to supermarkets, instead of dealing with the poverty issue.  

Plastic Pollution – Morrisons to roll out 20p paper carrier bag

Morrisons is to sell 20p paper carrier bags as an alternative to plastic in all stores by next month following a successful trial. The bags are made in Wales from sustainably managed forests and are strong enough to carry heavy weights up to 16kg. The supermarket hopes the move will save an estimated 1,300 tonnes of plastic a year based on customer uptake during an eight-week trial across eight stores since January.

Welsh stores will be the first to offer paper carrier bags next week, followed by English and Scottish stores in May. The retailer said the Welsh-made reusable and ultimately recyclable bags had a carbon footprint equivalent to its standard plastic bags, which also now cost 20p.

With plastic use dropping by 85% at Britain’s ‘big seven’ supermarkets since October 2015, when the Government introduced the mandatory 5p charge.

Andy Atkinson, group customer and marketing director at Morrisons, said: “We are taking another meaningful step that will remove an estimated 1,300 tonnes of plastic out of the environment each year.

“Our customers have told us that reducing plastic is their number one environmental concern so introducing the paper bag across the nation will provide another way of reducing the plastic in their lives.”

Morrisons removed 5p plastic carrier bags early in 2018 which led to a 25% reduction in overall bag sales.The 5p plastic bag levy was introduced in England in October 2015 and all large retailers have been required to introduce the charge.

Similar schemes run in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Figures from the Government at the end of 2018 showed that nearly two billion 5p plastic bags were sold in the last financial year.This is a stark reduction from 2014, when 7.6 billion carrier bags – the equivalent of 140 per person – were handed out solely by England’s seven largest supermarkets.

The end of the throwaway culture

At the end of 2018 it emerged that the original 5p charge on thin carrier bags would double to 10p as part of the Government’s plan to end Britain’s “throwaway culture” by 2020. An estimated 3.6 billion single-use bags are supplied free each year by England’s 250,000 small retailers. Under the new rules – that will come into force in 2020 – smaller shops will no longer be exempt from the charge.

The big players of waste creation

We here at North West Waste Consultants handle waste in the most efficient and environmentally-friendly manner for all of our clients, with a vast range of company sizes and industry sectors. However, the question has been asked: what are the biggest causes of waste in the UK? Here, we look at some of the big players of waste creation in Britain. The construction industry is one of the biggest causes of waste in the UK, and that more specifically comes from the wastage of raw materials. Counting for more than 50% of all desposited material in a typical landfill, construction waste can be further broken down into material waste, labour waste and machinery waste. This ties in with a report from the UK Green Building Council, which noted that the construction and demolition sectors generate 120 million tonnes of waste every year, roughly a third of all waste produced in the UK. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the major construction companies in the UK account for a hefty percentage the waste created, but fortunately we have strong working relationships with these organisations so that the waste stemming from major construction sites is always handled carefully and correctly. Another major cause of waste comes from farming. An article from The Guardian in 2016 suggested that farming was amongst the biggest causes of air pollution and waste not only in the UK, but Europe as a whole. The source of this came from a study which found that the nitrogen compounds from the fertilisers on the farm, along with the animal waste, are mixed with air that has already been polluted from general industry waste, the two combine to form solid particles which can cause breathing difficulties, impaired lungs and heart function, and in extreme cases, even the potential for premature deaths. There are other major industry sectors which heavily contribute to waste, one of which comes from the retail sector, and big-budget supermarkets in general. A recent report from the College of Estate Management on UK Shopping Centres and the Sustainability Agenda suggested that due to the costs involved, retailers in general have not taken enough steps as a whole in reducing the amount of waste being produced, ranging from unused cardboard and polythene waste to the likes of used drinks can, plastic bottles, glass and food waste, not to mention any unsold or unused food and drink products which remain in the stock rooms beyond their sell-by dates and are therefore not edible. However, some shops and shopping centres are progressing, such as the Belle Vale Shopping Centre in Liverpool, which recently lifted an environmental award for promoting the best practice in regards to waste disposal. So, whilst retail does produce a lot of waste, and the industry as a whole could do more, some shops and shopping centres are moving in the right direction when it comes to waste disposal and reducing waste creation. In any event, however, North West Waste Consultants are here to ensure that regardless of how the waste is created or how much of it comes from specific sectors or industries, we will be able to identify the most suitable methods of handling and disposing of all waste, recycling and reusing wherever possible, and generally ensuring a clear and logical method of waste disposal for the future. To find out more about North West Waste Consultants and how we help our clients with handling their waste, you can visit


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