With the unsung heroes of the Recycling Crew already being deep-dug down into work
It has now been almost two days since over 200,000 people have returned home to civilisation from the world’s biggest party, after experiencing what in most cases is a life-changing experience.
Campers started packing up their belongings and leaving the Glastonbury Festival site on a chilly Monday morning (27 June) as rain started to descend – following defied ominous forecasts of thunderstorms and a yellow weather warning from the Met Office.
As with every Glastonbury-year, there is one thing that can always be counted on to stay long after everyone has returned home – Yes, you probably guessed it – THE RUBBISH.
So if you’re at home, or work, or any other place away from Glastonbury, tending your long-lasting hangover and revisiting your new formed memories, know this – on the farm, the work has just begun.
The Glastonbury clean-up litter picking army is already deep-dug down into work on returning Worthy Farm to its natural clean and rubbish-free status.
This year the Glastonbury Festival Recycling Crew had over 2000 volunteers, of which, there were 26 different charities raising money for their organisations. Back in 2019, the crew’s charities managed to raise over £60,000.
Although significant progress has already been made, the entire process of cleaning up the whole site will take proximally a month to complete.
As you’d expect, the litter-picking crew encounters all sorts of rubbish throughout the clean-up – from the expected disposable cups and food wrappers to what would one day hopefully be the unexpected; tents, blow-up airbeds, camping chairs and such things which really have no place in being tagged as “rubbish”, as they are people’s own belongings, left behind.
Critical Waste, the team who manages The Recycling Crew at Glastonbury Festival, has managed the waste at the Worthy Farm-held event since 2008.
The company prides itself on being “a sustainable waste management company who specialises in clearing up and recycling at events and festivals”.
Also hard at work are the Wessex Water teams which are busy taking away sewage waste from the site.
Around 9,720,000 litres of waste will be treated at their water recycling centres – Just for comparison, that’s the size of four Olympic swimming pools!
The Glastonbury ‘Love the Farm, Leave no trace’ mantra, is central to the Festival’s philosophy.
And with such a large amount of people on the land during the Festival, it’s very important to minimise the enormous impact this makeshift city has on the countryside in which it stands.
Below we have listed some key points that Glastonbury has taken toward waste prevention and recycling, and sewage waste management – as well as what you can do to help;
- From 2019, single-use plastic drink bottles have not be available to purchase at the Festival. Single-use plastic drinks bottles are also no longer supplied or available in any of the Festival’s backstage, production, catering and dressing room areas.
- Glastonbury only allows compostable or reusable plates and cutlery – including drinking straws. All cutlery used by market stalls must be made from FSC-assured wood.
- Disposable single-serving sachets, like those used for sauces or sugar, are not supplied or available anywhere on-site.
- All cans, glass, paper, wood and organic waste collected from the Festival’s 15,000 bins are hand-separated and processed at Glastonbury’ss on-site recycling facility.
- In 2019 the Festival recycled over 68 tonnes of paper and cards, 38 tonnes of glass, 57 tonnes of cans, 17 tonnes of plastic bottles and turned 14,000 litres of cooking oil into biofuel.
- All bags used to collect compostable food waste are made of compostable cornstarch and processed into compost.
- In 2019 149 tonnes of food waste were turned into compost.
- The Festival has a 1,300-strong army of recycling volunteers who contribute hugely to the clean-up of the Festival site. Without them, Glastonbury wouldn’t be able to achieve our current rate of recycling.
- In 2017, 20,000 reusable stainless steel water bottles were sold as an alternative to single-use plastic bottles. These were refillable at taps and WaterAid kiosks across site.
- All the bin bags used to collect the recycling and general waste are made of recycled plastic which will again be recycled into more bin bags.
- There are over 1,200 eco-friendly compost toilets on site which yield over 500 tonnes of horticultural compost every year.
- Glastonbury Festival’s long drop toilets use no chemicals so waste can be treated easily at local sewage works.
- The ‘Pee-Power Project’ run by Bristol University & UWE creates electricity from urine on site.
What you can do to help:
- Bring a reusable water bottle. These can be filled for free at the taps and WaterAid kiosks across the Festival site.
- Only use what you need. If every Festival-goer used four napkins instead of one, there would be an extra 450,000 napkins wasted unnecessarily.
- Use Glastonbury’s recycling bins. It is not okay to drop litter on the ground. Help by placing your waste into the correct recycling bins.
- Take your tent and equipment home with you. Nothing should be considered disposable so please only bring equipment that is built to last.
- Please avoid using disposable wipes. Even biodegradable wipes, which quickly break down into micro-plastics, are problematic environmental pollutants.
Meanwhile, Glastonbury 2022 was brought to a close on Sunday (26 June) by headliner Kendrick Lamar who closed the Pyramid Stage that night.
Lamar’s performance came after the Festival made history with both the youngest-ever headliner in Gen-Z, icon Billie Eilish, and the oldest-ever headline in Sir Paul McCartney, both playing a pandemic-delayed 50th birthday bash for the greatest music festival in the world – three years after the last instalment took place in 2019.
During his historic headline performance, Macca wowed the crowds with a show-stopping setlist which included surprise guest appearances from both Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl as well as American-born Bruce Springsteen.
Other highlights included Diana Ross commanding a mammoth crowd at her Sunday teatime Legends Slot. The Motown soul singer treated the crowd to a selection of classics including I’m Coming Out, Baby Love, You Can’t Hurry Love, Stop! In The Name Of Love and at the conclusion of Chain Reaction pink confetti was launched from the stage.
While on the Saturday of the Festival, we found out Lily Allen was making her way to the Glastonbury site, thanks to an Instagram story she shared that afternoon, for what turned out to be a surprise secret guest appearance with Olivia Rodrigo on the Other Stage.
Other secret sets included performances from Jack White, who played The Park Stage on the Sunday, and George Ezra, who took to the John Peel Stage, earlier that day.
Glastonbury 2023 will take place at its natural home in Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, from Wednesday the 21st to Sunday the 25th of June.