Level of waste at Electric Picnic ‘heartbreaking’ to see

Published by Shamim Malekmian on

September 5th, 2018

The level of unnecessary waste left over at this year’s Electric Picnic festival is “heartbreaking” to see, according to Friends of the Earth.

A jumble of thousands of tents and personal objects was abandoned at the scene of this year’s festival in Stradbally, Co Laois last weekend.

Although there is no official estimate of the amount of trash cleared from the scene, Laois County Council personnel were forced to use bulldozers to clear the site.

The rubbish-flooded scene comes after just days after the environmental group Friends of the Earth’s (FOE) appealed to festival-goers to leave no trace in Stradbally after witnessing the “sad state of the concert site last year”. The group operated a deposit-return scheme for plastic cups at the festival.

Dr Cara Augustenborg, FOE’s communications officer, expressed her frustration about the amount of waste generated again at this year’s festival.

“It is heartbreaking to see,” she told The Green News. “If you are somebody who cares about the environment, watching a beautiful place like Stradbally being destroyed over three days is not something that you would enjoy watching.”

Dr Augustenborg said that the trash-stricken site at Stradbally exemplifies “our consumerist culture” and called on the festival’s organisers to think of a palpable solution for next year’s event. “I very much like to urge the festival’s organisers to take this issue seriously going forward.”

The environmental group deployed 160 green messengers at this year’s festival to promote waste reduction as part of the Sick of Plastic Campaign.


Too much to handle

However, Ed Rice, a festival attendee told The Journal earlier this week that the amount of rubbish was too much for volunteers to handle.

It was estimated that each concert-goer at last year’s festival generated 10kg of waste which equals 588 tonnes of rubbish in total.

Initiatives such as Every Can Counts, and Cup Deposit helped to recycle 26 per cent of rubbish that was collected from the festival’s main arena, last year.

However, only one per cent of the trash left behind at the campsite was salvaged with the majority of the remnants ending up in landfills, according to FOE.

“Waste is a huge problem at music festivals because people bring inexpensive camping gear and leave it behind, often mistakenly believing it will go to charity,” Ms Augustenborg said.

Campsite rubbish accounts for at least 30 per cent of all the waste generated at the music event, according to the festival’s organisers.

Maura Lyons of Leave No Trace Ireland called on festival owners to take urgent measures to avoid the level of “unnecessary” waste of recyclable resources seen in the “hugely disturbing” videos and photographs that emerged following last weekend’s festival.

“It’s time for festivals to stop using words like ’environment’, ‘green’ and ‘sustainability’ as marketing catchphrases, and actually invest in tackling these issues head-on,” she added.

“It is not enough to simply clear and dump millions of euros in materials into landfill sites. We are drowning in our own waste. Many of these materials are reusable and recyclable. Seeing bulldozers scorch the site is sickening in a time when these materials could be used for many purposes. Advance, planned and effective environmental strategies need to be a core element in the preparations for any large gathering.”

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Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.