Major UK festivals to go plastic-free

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Festivals have been trying to tackle plastic waste for years – with Glastonbury installing recycling bins in 2008

The world’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation, says it will eliminate single-use plastics at its venues and festivals by 2021.

In the UK, that means events like Reading and Leeds, Wireless, Latitude and Download will go plastic free.

It’s part of a push to achieve zero waste at Live Nation’s clubs, concert halls and venues by 2030.

The pledge comes after independent British festivals like Glastonbury and Bestival vowed to cut plastic waste.

Glastonbury has announced it will not sell single-use plastic water bottles this year, owing to concerns about their impact on the environment.

While Bestival, Boardmasters and Kendal Calling were among 61 festivals who signed up to the “drastic on plastic” initiative last year, pledging to rid their sites of single-use plastic by 2021.

They have also called on retailers such as Argos and Tesco to stop marketing and selling tents as single-use items, saying abandoned tents account for 875 tonnes of plastic waste every summer.

Awareness of the impact of plastic on the environment has grown exponentially over the last few years.

It’s thought that more than eight million tonnes of plastic enters the world’s oceans each year, harming wildlife and entering the food chain.

This week, the government announced new restrictions on the sale of plastic straws, plastic drinks stirrers and plastic cotton buds, which will come into effect in England from April 2020.

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Waste at festivals is a serious problem – fans abandoned these plastic chairs in a tree at Denmark’s Roskilde festival in 2019

Live Nation’s commitment will affect about 20 UK festivals and more than 20 venues, which it manages through the Academy Music Group.

These include high-profile concert halls such as the Brixton Academy, King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut in Glasgow, the Manchester Apollo and Cardiff International Arena.

Examples of single-use plastic items at concerts include:

  • Plastic drinks bottles
  • Plastic straws
  • Glitter
  • Plastic food trays
  • Cable ties
  • Toiletry bottles (hand-wash, shower gel, etc)

Live Nation says it will start trialling plant-based water bottles across Europe in 2019.

It has also launched a new set of sustainability goals, including a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030; and a commitment to send zero waste to landfill by 2030.

“Hosting over 35,000 concerts and festivals each year, Live Nation has the opportunity and responsibility to provide our artists and fans with a live music experience that protects our planet,” said Michael Rapino, president of Live Nation Entertainment.

“The adverse effects of climate change are undeniable, and we want to use our place on the world stage to be part of the solution. Together our concerts, venues, festivals, and offices around the world are setting new sustainability standards for live events.”

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