Cleaning up the waste at Glastonbury

Now we're firmly into September, the summer festival season has pretty much been wrapped up for another year. Today, we take a look at the rubbish and general waste left by partygoers to this year's Glastonbury Festival.

We stumbled upon this interesting video posted by Bristol based company Coveya, which shows how a part of the clean-up process is speeded up with the use of their conveyor belts. The video contains a few interesting stats about what happens once all the party goers have left the festival to return to their daily lives.

The sorting process

According to the official Glastonbury website, there are around 1,300 volunteers who chip in to help sort the mountain of rubbish left by Glasto revellers. The rubbish is bagged up from all over the site and carried by tractor to the sorting barn. Once it arrives, there are eight conveyor belts and an army of volunteers waiting to sort the waste by hand and recycle as much as possible - Anything that can't be recycled is seperated from the rest of the waste and removed by truck.

Their entertaining Reflection on Glastonbury blog post notes that due to the sheer volume of waste left behind, it's too mammoth a task for local skip hire companies and, although we love skips, we have to agree!

Leave No Trace

Glastonbury has a well-known 'Leave No Trace' policy which encourages revellers to "Use the bins provided - Bag up campsite rubbish and use the recycling pens - Take you belongings home including tents and camping gear". Whilst not everyone adheres to this policy, there is still a monumental amount of general rubbish left at Glastonbury. The main types of recycleable materials include plastic, paper and aluminium and although glass is prohibited, some of this is inevitably 'smuggled' into the camping areas.

Other common items that end up being recycled are electrical and electronic equipment, wood, organic waste... and tents...LOTS of tents!

The 440 waste pickers aren't just there to sort through rubbish once everyone has left; they worked in shifts that cover 16 hours of every day throughout the festival. The vast majority of the volunteers work there so that they can gain free access to the site although some work there for their nominated charity.

glastonbury festival rubbish

How much rubbish is recycled?

The 2014 figures for recycling at the festival show that there were:

  • 114 tonnes of organic waste
  • 400 tonnes of chipped wood
  • 23 tonnes of glass
  • 85 tonnes of cans and plastic bottles
  • 41 tonnes of cardboard
  • 162 tonnes of scrap metal
  • 11.2 tonnes of clothing, tents, sleeping bags
  • 0.264 tonnes of batteries
  • 3 tonnes of dense plastic
  • 0.25 tonnes plastic sheets

According to Glastonbury official policies, 983 tonnes of waste were recycled or diverted from landfill and a total of 54% of all the Festival's waste was recycled.


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