Every year more than 170,000 people flock to the world renowned Glastonbury Music Festival.
In spite of its green ethos, it has been heavily criticised in recent years for its impact on the environment. New green initiatives have been launched for its 40th anniversary as part of a growing interest in how these kind of events can be greener. The entire UK music industry’s carbon footprint has been measured by Oxford University researchers led by Catherine Bottrill:
“The UK music industry annually produces over half a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year, and of that festivals account for probably at least 15%. I estimate that is equivalent to over 80,000 tonnes of CO2 – which corresponds to a town of 8,000 people’s personal emissions for a year”.
Infrastructure has been the key word for greening Glastonbury in the last two years. A second reservoir has been built for this year. 2,000 litres of mains water now feeds into the festival facilities. Free drinking water is available for everybody without being trucked in, eliminating vehicle movement on-site.
“We’ve reduced our CO2 emissions by about 25% by reducing the transportation of water and sewage”, says Green Initiatives co-ordinator Lucy Brooking Clark.
Organisers say investing in local sewage plants saves up to 10,000 tonnes of Co2 emissions. Previously 32 lorries made 280 40-mile trips to take sewage away. Today three lorries transport it locally, and a big new project might cut the festival’s carbon footprint by 30% next year.
“We’re going to install the largest private owned solar panel array in the country, which will be 1500 square meters. It will provide 200 KW of power which will be the equivalent of powering 40 homes in the UK for a year. It’s not enough for powering Glastonbury, but it’s enough to power the main stage, the Pyramid stage over the period of the festival,” adds Clark.
Everyday an army of 160 green policemen inform festival-goers on what to do and what not to, to respect the environment. People caught urinating in the bushes or dropping cigarette butts can be expelled from the festival.
Green police also encourage people to recycle, using the 40,000 bins on the site. Volunteers empty them twice a day, but they are always full.
What goes on the ground is collected every morning by 950 litter pickers. In spite of the campaign to leave no trace, and take litter away, last year 1,000 tonnes of litter were produced.
At Glastonbury all the litter is separated on-site, a rare facility to find at other festivals, at least of this scale. Everyday between 10 to 15 tonnes of garbage come here to be sorted and compacted.
Last year 49% of waste was recycled: a total of 90 tonnes of dry waste and 150 tonnes of compostable material.
“78 people are working on this line. So the waste from around the site comes in that end gets brought onto these belts and as you can see they separate out several different materials, cans plastic bottles, compostable materials and glass, which obviously isn’t allowed in the festival site, but some of that does arrives on the festival site,” says recycling and waste co-ordinator Andy Willcott.
Glastonbury is rising to its critics challenge, greening itself with the same spirit of fun that has kept it going for 40 years. Who says environmentalism’s all doom and gloom?