Thought Leader: Reducing Plastic Waste in the Events Industry

Ian Irving, global marketing director, trovr discusses how brands can take more responsibility for cleaning up their act at events ahead of 2024’s Deposit Return Scheme.

  • Attendees and performers at live events and entertainment venues are increasingly demanding organisers to be as sustainable as possible.
  • A recent Planet Patrol report has highlighted that the majority of street, waterway and coastline litter in the UK comes from 10 major consumer brands.
  • A new ‘rewards for recycling’ consumer approach to rewarding for recycling using Reverse Vending Machines at UK festivals and venues to encourage much greater efforts at recycling and reducing waste.

Right now, more than ever before sustainability remains one of the biggest challenges facing the live events and venues industries. With a still increasing threat that climate change is more prevalent than ever, and the need for us all to adopt sustainable practices is more desperate than ever.

This extends into festivals, live events and event venues just as much as on the high street and in our homes. Festival organisers and venue owners are no doubt becoming more conscious of their own carbon footprints and the way in which they deal with waste. Today’s eventgoers and performers are expecting the events they attend to do their utmost to be as environmentally friendly and as sustainable as possible.

The problem of plastic waste in the UK has been highlighted by a recent ‘2021 Litter Report’ by the Planet Patrol – a non-profit environmental group. They pointed out that more than half of all identifiable litter in the United Kingdom (UK) can be traced back to just 10 drinks brands. In 2021, their volunteers logged that 85,326 pieces of litter were found across an estimated 27,000km of land, coastlines and waterways. Every piece recorded was verified and analysed to present a true picture of the UK’s litter crisis from evidence-based findings.

More than a third of the litter collected came from drinks companies, such as plastic bottles, cans and single-use cups, making them the biggest polluter for the second year in a row.

The 10 leading brands responsible for making up more than half of the litter collected were: Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Cadbury, Red Bull, Walkers, Lucozade, Tesco and three alcohol brands.

In response to this litter problem, the UK Government has promised a Deposit Return Scheme for plastic bottles to cut marine and environmental pollution. This is due to be launched across England, Wales and Northern Ireland by 2024, and is recognised as a key environmental policy going forward.

In a Deposit Return Scheme, consumers will be charged an additional ‘deposit’ fee (e.g. 20p) when they purchase a drink in a single-use container. This deposit then acts as an incentive to support recycling and encourage sustainability across all environments such as festivals and events as it is redeemed when the consumer returns the empty container to a return point.

The challenge is what the events and festival industry can do in the meantime to encourage more recycling. The biggest challenge seems to be how to encourage and engage their audience to recycle more when they are having fun and enjoying the performances of their favourite performers.

So, what could be the solution?

The best way to encourage recycling is to inspire consumers with financial incentives, linked to major brands offering them discounts and rewards for recycling (ahead of a more formal Deposit Return Scheme being introduced).

A great example of this in action is a major UK supermarket group deploying the Reverse Vending Machines in their on-site festival stores at seven Live Nation music festivals across this Summer, 2022. The brand will encourage every buyer of drinks in single use containers to recycle them, by providing the consumers with immediate discounts and rewards both at the festival and in their high street stores.

The other advantage of recycling machines is that they have integrated video advertising screens to enable brands to promote their brand and partners. This is giving brands a great way to allocate their marketing budgets to this integrated recycling approach, with these
digital out of home opportunities being part of the £14bn UK and £375bn global market, and which is delivering 13% year-on-year growth.

With 2024 not being far away, its high time to be deploying integrated recycling solutions this year at festivals and venues to help and encourage everyone to recycle more.



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