Summer just wouldn’t be the same without festivals. The music, the food, the people, the party—memories that last a lifetime, but fewer people remember the mess left behind after the music festival.  Once the party is over, not many people pay attention to the amount of rubbish left behind. All that trash just sits around until waste contractors collect it up and dump everything in a landfill.

The culture of music festivals is important to Australia, but so is the environmental impact of these festivals. As this music festival waste problem worsens, questions concerning the sustainability of it all and solutions for the waste have arisen.

Are Music Festivals Environmental Disasters?

Music festivals are a lot of fun. Their curators are continuously expanding to meet the demands of festival-goers, but they don’t always make an effort to set up an eco-friendly festival. It’s estimated that 80% of trash from summer music festivals is generated and left behind by campers themselves, even including items like tents, sleeping bags, camp chairs, gazebos, clothes, rubber boots, and of course, leftover alcohol and food. Many of these items are used for a weekend and then dumped. Attendees are ruining the grounds they’re camping out on. Many sites don’t have enough trash cans, don’t have cleaning crews coming through, and have nowhere to throw their trash. Festival rubbish removal can be costly though, which can add to the ticket price and make the overall cost of the festival even more than it already is.

Even if there are a few programs in place to attempt to handle this trash problem, there have still been issues with excess trash left behind as a result of the “drop everything” mentality some festival-goers have. Thankfully, there have also been increasing efforts on the festival scene to go green and improve sustainability.

Environmental Sustainability and Live Music

With the Australian festival culture making it somewhat challenging to keep festival grounds clean, people wonder if it’s possible to practice environmental sustainability while still having a great time on the campgrounds. If you’ve ever lingered after a festival and watched the clean-up effort stepping around the abandoned food and items on the ground as you walk around, you might have pondered the possibility of sustainable waste management for festivals too.

Festivals can produce the equivalent of over 6 pounds of waste per person per day, which is much more than you would typically produce at home or work. Six litres of diesel are used too just to power everything, generating tons of carbon emissions per year. For all the waste that’s produced though, only around 32% is recycled. On top of that, think of the damage all the foot traffic does to the environment itself, and the emissions that come from the vehicles people use to drive to the festival grounds.

Reducing Waste and Environmental Impact

So what kind of sustainable efforts have people been considering to reduce the environmental impact of festival rubbish? Many festival organisers are aware that they need to do something in order to limit the environmental impact, but in order for anything to change, festival-goers themselves have to be willing to participate.

Recently, there have been programs set up to reduce the emissions from transport to the festivals, which make up a total of 80% of the overall emissions. Organisers have begun to reward people for using a lower-emission route, offering shuttle services, and providing rewards for people riding in cars with more than four people. There are even areas with bike parking lots to encourage people living close enough to leave their car at home and dedicated buses for people to shuttle over to festivals in mass.

Festival organisers themselves have been working to increase their own sustainability by treating water on-site and reducing waste with renewable fuels and new recycling efforts. They’ve even taken initiatives to provide locally-sourced organic food to reduce the carbon footprint of food provision as well and have made it easier to restore the environment after the festival ends too.

Eco-Friendly Festival Behaviour

You’ve seen how your organisers are trying to prevent the environmental disaster of festivals, but what can you do to reduce your footprint while you’re there? Instead of relying on greasy food stands set around or beverages in plastic bottles, you can buy some fresh fruit or organic meals set out right on the festival grounds. With green reusable cups, you can drink everything without leaving behind all the plastic trash festival-goers have gotten far too used to seeing.

The waste produced at festivals has increasingly highlighted the negative impact of the festival industry prompting more eco-friendly behaviour from people who attend. More and more people are using low-emission transportation instead of travelling alone in their cars and choosing sustainable food options while at the festival grounds. All the food is sourced locally with a wide range of sustainable meals and reliable and natural origins to reduce environmental damage.

Plastic Recycling and Collection Can Help

In terms of plastic, reusable cups are being used to replace the plastic of the past, with some companies providing free water for those cups to reduce plastic consumption overall. As for what you can do, consider bringing your own reusable materials too, like a water bottle, coffee cup, or plates. You can also try borrowing your camping gear instead of buying something cheap and leaving it behind. Event rubbish removal involves just taking all that left behind gear and throwing it away, so instead, borrow gear that’s likely higher quality than you would otherwise have, and save money while being environmentally conscious as well.

Most importantly, remember to clean up after yourself. Many people just leave their trash around for others to clean up. It’s easy to bring your own garbage bag to set up with you. Try bringing eco glitter as well if you’re the glitter type. This glitter won’t harm nature when you use it or eventually end up hurting animals through the water, and you can still have a good time with it. The same goes for your clothing: don’t wear something you’ll have once and then throw it away. It’s all about sustainability.

Skip Bin Solutions for Your Events

If you’ve ever been to a music festival, you may remember the overfull bins with trash piled on top of them and all around them when they get too full. People just leave the trash there, and even with increased festival rubbish recycling projects, there ends up being too much trash to handle at times. Instead of using classic bins though, consider using skin bin solutions for your events.

Waste management for events uses what’s known as a skip bin: a trapezoid-shaped container for waste. You can find these bins in a range of sizes. They are able to hold a large amount of waste.

Skip bins will keep all the trash in one place instead of you having to spread bins around. There will, of course, still be a large amount of waste, but your efforts at managing the water and handling the clean-up afterwards will be that much easier.

Hiring a Skip Bin to manage Music Festival Waste

If you choose to hire a skip bin, the first step is to decide how many bins you’ll need and plan out where you want them to be placed so that people will use them instead of just throwing trash on the ground. Strategically place your bins, put up banners to direct people to them, and make sure people know exactly how to dispose of their waste. Come up with a plan to separate recyclable and non-recyclable materials, and place smaller bins near the exits to catch festival goers on their way out. Your bin hire provider can help with suggestions for this layout, and some placements may be limited by vehicle access, but bins can’t do all the work either.

Make sure to keep an eye on how full your bins are too. If your bin is under-sized and becomes full, people may just begin leaving trash on the ground around it. This is an area where ensuring you’ve hired a good skip bin company matters. You want a provider with timely pickup schedules that apply good disposal practices. Most skip bin companies deliver all your music festival waste to a licensed sorting facility to figure out how to separate your trash for you.

Zero Waste Festivals

If you’re hosting an event or festival but want to do right by the environment in the process, consider hiring skip bins to remove waste. Eco-friendly festival rubbish solutions have been on everyone’s minds as of late. People want to make sure that while they’re having a good time at a music festival, they’re not destroying the environment in the process. Organisers have started sustainability efforts, and festival goers have become more committed to keeping the grounds clean themselves. Before you go to your next festival, think about what you might be able to do before you even arrive to keep everything looking great after the fun is over, and everyone needs to head home.

About the Author

  • Jack Sims has been an integral part of Coastal Waste Management since 2019, serving as the Sales Manager. Prior to joining Coastal, he honed his expertise as a Business Development Manager at JJ Richards. With a passion for sustainable waste solutions, Jack brings years of hands-on experience in the industry. He is dedicated to offering customers eco-friendly and efficient waste management services.