Most of us have seen the comments in the press from Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis, discussing a potential ban on plastic bottles when the festival returns in 2019. In a recent interview with BBC radio station 6 Music, she stated that the ban was the “big project” organisers are currently working on.
Whilst it’s still early days, the comments certainly seem to reflect a growing movement to reduce the use of plastics at festivals and events. Josie and Rob da Bank, founders of Bestival, announced at the end of January that they were launching The Final Straw campaign, where the aim is to purge the use of plastic straws from the festival landscape, starting with their own events – Bestival, Camp Bestival and Common People. They’re then hoping that the ban will be rolled out to all single-use plastics, in future years.
As an experienced caterer to festivals and outdoor events, it is important to the entire Eat to the Beat team to reduce our environmental impact wherever we can. That’s why we’ve been working hard to come up with viable alternatives to help facilitate the shift towards less plastic waste. Several festival sites already have a policy in place that ensures only biodegradable, compostable and disposable items are used, affecting everything from coffee and water cups to cutlery and take away containers.
On top of this, Eat to the Beat has also been looking at how plastic cups can be avoided at future festivals and events. With the cost of paper cups similar to that of plastic, we’ve made the decision to move away from plastic cups altogether and adopt a paper cup only policy. This follows on from our current policy of using only wooden or corn starch cutlery, as well as our ban on polystyrene, which has been in place for years.
We’ve also found that ultimately single serving bottles of water will be requested, so as long as viable alternatives such as reusable bottles are being supplied or sold at reasonable prices people will adapt.
Taking it one step further, we’ve recently been in conversations with a client about how they can reduce the amount of disposable paper plates used. One suggestion, although perhaps a little impractical for festivals, is the use of reusable plates and food cloches. Achievable for one building fixed-site events, the solution would see crockery drop off points placed strategically around the event site.
Whilst many companies and organisers may be concerned that moving away from plastic could prove to be costly, we’ve actually found the opposite to be true. In fact, many years ago when we made the switch from plastic teaspoons to wooden stirrers we discovered that they were cheaper, proving that there are plastic alternatives that are not only environmentally friendly, but also cost-effective!