Making waves festival-goer guide

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MAKING WAVES Global lessons to inspire local action




Working together to reduce plastic consumption and implement healthy, fair, sustainable solutions... GET INVOLVED!


Since the dawn of civilisation, Festivals have been places where people step out of everyday life, play, learn, share ideas and become inspired. They provide space for new genres of music, new art forms and contemporary political and environmental issues to be expressed and explored, over and above the opportunitiy to be inspired. The unique festival experience offers festival-goers the opportunity to make a positive change in society.





THE GUIDE: How can you reduce plastics at festivals?


CASE STUDIES: Best Practice






What is this Guide and who is it for? Plastics have become part of our daily lives, and have given us great gifts in medicine and modern advancements. However, the production, use and disposal of plastics cause widespread ecological damage throughout its life-cycle. All festivals have environmental footprints, by consuming energy, water, food and materials, and producing waste and carbon. Within our current linear system, the impacts of the supply chain and the materials that products are made from are less often considered beyond the event itself. The embodied energy in materials, the impacts of manufacturing processes and what happens to the products after their use are significant aspects of their environmental and social impact. Whilst the use of certified timber is a well-established practice and food sourcing has become a more prominent issue, other materials are often not considered in depth or within a circular system. 1

Inadvertently, the very properties that make it remarkably useful also make it a persistent pollutant, especially in the marine environment. This is having a dramatic impact on ecosystems, human health, wildlife and the climate. This guide provides background information on the issues arising from plastics use and practical advice for festival-goers on how to implement prevention strategies for positive longterm change. We want a world free from single-use hazardous (or toxic) plastics for everyone, everywhere by 2030.

This guide shares ideas about how we can achieve this, starting right now at the festival!



What we are using and why In the temporary world of festivals, convenience is a crucial factor. The sale of large quantities of drinks quickly in a safe disposable plastic bottle or cup has become the norm. It is often perceived as the only practical option. Many other products and promotional materials used on event sites are also made from plastics, and many waste management approaches focus almost entirely on recycling only. Where we use plastics at festivals is fairly obvious. Eating, drinking and camping tend to be most prominent: > > > > > > >

Water and drinks bottles Beer cups Tents and Gazebos Badges and Wristbands Signage and stickers Clothing Festival Goods

What are the problems? Litter: A significant amount of waste thrown on the ground at festivals tends to be plastic pint cups and single-use plastic water bottles, creating a less desirable environment, and incurring cleaning costs. Resources: All plastic pint cups, water and beverage bottles are manufactured from a non-renewable resource derived from oil. Low recycling rates: Confusion about types of plastics, recycling methods and the availability of recycling facilities means that plastics and the use of bioplastics in particular, can often not be recycled at events.



In this world it is truly awesome how lucky we are, yet we keep hurting the planet in ways nature could never have come up with...� NEIL YOUNG, 2012

The vibe: Behavioural studies suggest that disposability can promote a lack of individual responsibility for the shared environment. Image: Far beyond beach clean-ups, plastics have become a hot topic in the media and at EU policy level recently, with striking images of oceans full of plastic debris and rewards for inventions to remove plastics from the water.

Simple first-step solutions... The best way of dealing with waste is not to create any in the first place. AVOID, REDUCE, REUSE and lastly RECYCLE is essential guidance.

AVOID Aim to avoid using plastics which are most ecologically harmful and/or not recycleable. Aim to avoid disposable plastic bottles and bring or buy your own reusable bottles.

REDUCE & REUSE Use reusable cups when possible. It is standard practice for events across Europe. Reduce the number of tents left behind. Take yours home and reuse it.

RECYCLE Ensure you separate and recycle as many unavoidable plastics as possible. 2

PLASTIC - THE FACTS What’s the problem with Plastic? Nothing better illustrates our throwaway lifestyle than plastic. The production, use and disposal of synthetic plastic is one of the most serious environmental and human health problems facing us today.

TOXICITY - polluting ecosystems

Studies of the oceans gyres have shown concentration of plastic to plankton at a ratio of 6:1”


QUANTITY - Plastic is everywhere Vast quantities of long-term plastic debris and particles litter all the world’s earth and oceans.


The toxicity of plastic is causing widespread environmental damage and pollution throughout its life-cycle. It is made from and transported using non-renewable fossil fuels (oil). It contains hundreds of highly toxic persistent chemicals, damaging to both human health and the environment. During use, many common plastics (e.g. PET water bottles) can leach toxic chemicals from the plastic into the water they contain, especially in the heat and even in normal conditions. Millions of tonnes of plastic are broken down by sunlight into tiny microplastics that are widely dispersed in water. 3

These microplastics act like a sponge, attracting other toxins to them to extreme toxic levels, passing up the food chain contaminating entire ecosystems and our food.


DISPOSABILITY - here today still here tomorrow... Explosive sales in plastic products with a short life span encourage waste on a vast scale. Design for disposability has created a throwaway consumer culture, that is disconnected from the environmental consequences.

...not the POLLUTION! RECYLABILITY The majority of plastics are buried in landfills where chemicals can leach from the plastic into surrounding habitats and the water table.

Plastics can take a minimum of 500 years to degrade. Ironically, when combined with a throwaway culture, this means that we are using plastic materials that are designed to last, for short-term use. You ain't gonna miss your water until your well runs dry" BOB MARLEY, 1980

Most recycled plastics are exported, often illegally, from Europe to Africa and Asia where burning waste in the open air is commonplace. Reuse and recycling recovery systems are not keeping up with the sheer quantity of plastic produced. The majority of recycling processes release toxic emissions or dust into the air and soil. One in six fish in UK waters contain plastics in their bodies


Plastics have revolutionised our world – but what do we really know about them? 4

Many, but not all, plastics have a code on the packaging. The two most commonly recycled plastics in the UK are PET (1) and HDPE (2). Many other plastics are not recycled and the current labelling system has no category for bioplastics. Bioplastics compare favourably to traditional plastics because they may be made from renewable sources. However the infrastructure for collecting and reprocessing these materials is currently not established. Furthermore, the modern systems for separating plastics by type are not able to detect bioplastics easily, which causes contamination of otherwise good quality recycling. Bioplastics vary widely in their base material and their ability (or inability) to biodegrade, and questions have also been raised over potentially harmful additives, colourants and plasticiers which are used to produce bioplastics. Bisphenol A (BPA)-free plastics are often considered to be the safest option in terms of potential impact on human health. However new research raises concerns that BPA-free plastic products may release hazardous compounds after undergoing wear and tear, such as through dishwashing, microwaving, or exposure to sunlight.

FOCUS: BOTTLED WATER Each year in the UK we drink 3bn litres of bottled water and 10bn bottles go to landfill. Marketing obscures the fact that absurdly bottled water is at least 500 times the cost of tap water, and isn’t necessarily ‘healthier.’ 5

Recycled PET (rPET) can be considered marginally better due to having been made from recycled materials


For Good or for Bad?





PVC 04

PE-LD 05



Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE)

Soft drink and water bottles, salad dressing bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter and jam jars.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

Water pipes, buckets, milk and juice bottles, washing-up liquid, shampoo, bath and shower gel bottles, bleach bottles and shopping bags.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

Blister packaging (non-food items), cling films (non-food use) and children’s and pet’s toys. Pipes, fittings, window and door frames (rigid), thermal insulation (foam) and electric cables.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)

Frozen food bags, squeezable bottles (e.g. mustard), carrier bags, bin liners, packaging films, cling film and flexible container lids.

Polypropylene (PP)

Yogurt pots, margarine tubs, straws, crisp packets, microwaveable ware, kitchenware, take-away containers, disposable cups and plates. Nappies, carpet fibres and vehicle upholstery.

Polystyrene (PS)

Egg cartons, packing peanuts, disposable cups, plates, trays and cutlery and disposable take-away containers.

Other (polycarbonate or ABS)

Beverage bottles, baby milk bottles, CDs, glazing, electronic apparatus, lenses, glasses, headlamps, riot shields, aircraft glazing instrument panels.



PS 07




* In 2011, the UK exported 70% of plastic packaging for reprocessing and downcycling, increasing the transport and energy associated with recycling. * Source: WRAP and Valpak (2013) PlasFlow Report RReport


We must see the problems, we must think that in spite of everything, it is possible to solve these problems. We must find solutions." MANZINI, 2008

AVOID, REDUCE, REUSE and lastly RECYCLE. Beyond the simple first step solutions mentioned earlier in this guide consider what other plastic products you could eliminate or reduce.

WATER Avoid single use plastic water bottles and use reusable water bottles and cups. Bring your own or buy a 100% stainless steel alternative. Refill your water bottle at tap points, water kiosks and fountains on site. Encourage friends to do the same.

CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR Avoid synthetic clothing* and try quality garments made from organic cotton, ethically raised wool, hemp, linen and other plant-based materials. Vintage, charity or unbleached and naturally-dyed garments are preferable. Reduce and reuse plastic shoes and flip-flops and consider replacing with leather, canvas or natural rubber alternatives. Reduce and reuse plastic hats, gloves or sun glasses and replace with cotton, wool, felt and metal, wooden or plant-based eyewear. Reduce cheap plastic festival goods, badges or wristbands and choose natural or locally made items. 7


We hope to raise awareness and inspire action to reduce plastic consumption. If you are interested in a plastic-free future... THIS GUIDE IS FOR YOU!

FOOD AND DRINK Avoid single use plastic bags and use reusable cloth bags or baskets. Avoid polystyrene takeaway cups and food containers and use reusable or compostable* alternatives made from sustainably sourced paper, card or wood. Avoid non-recyclable plastic straws and stirrers. If you must, use reusable stainless steel and wooden versions or paper if disposables are unavoidable. Reduce single use plastic drinks bottles and buy cans instead. Decant spirits into metal bottles. Reduce disposable plastic packaging. Buy food naked or use compostable packaging like paper, card or wood. If disposables are essential use bioplastics such as potato or corn starch. Use bulk dispensing rather than sachets (e.g. sugar, spreads, milk, sauces, salt and pepper). * This is different to ‘biodegradable’ which is not advisable.

CAMPING Avoid or reuse cheap polyester plastic tents, gazebos or windbreaks and replace with natural unbleached or naturally-dyed canvas or cotton materials. Avoid plastic tent pegs and use durable metal ones, or those made from biodegradable potato starch. Avoid plastic lighters and ashtrays and use refillable lighters and metal, glass or wooden ashtrays. Reuse or phase out synthetic sleeping bags, roll mats and backpacks and replace with cotton, canvas, natural rubber or PVC-free alternatives. Reuse and phase out plastic tables and chairs and table cloths. As they wear out, replace with wood, metal or canvas. Reduce and reuse teflon-coated plastic pots and pans and switch to non-coated pots and pans and wood or metal utensils for cooking. Reduce and reuse plastic foodware (plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, dishes and containers) and replace with reusable glass, steel or ceramics. Reduce and reuse all plastic flags, banners and signs and switch to cotton, wood, slate, metal or PVC-free and eco-foam board alternatives.

Reduce single use plastic personal care and hygiene products (liquid soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, cosmetics and facial wipes, shaving gel and razors). Decant shower gel, shampoo and conditioner from bulk dispensers if possible. Use soap bars, try deodorant bars and keep in a handy metal box. Consider toothbrushes made from wood or bamboo with natural bristles and tooth paste, powder or tabs. Reduce cosmetics containing plastic microbeads and consider natural plant-based alternatives. Reduce facial wipes and ear buds and use organic cotton wool or reuse a strong organic cotton facecloth. Reduce plastic sanitary products and switch to biodegradable and compostable plastic-free sanitary pads, tampons, liners and wipes, such as Natracare, made from totally chlorine-free organic cotton and natural materials.


Reuse razors and blades made from metal and try shaving soap.

CHILDREN Avoid plastic baby bottles or cups and bring or buy 100% stainless steel alternatives. Avoid disposable plastic nappies and consider organic cotton, wool, felt, hemp and bamboo or cloth nappies. Use compostable baby wipes. Avoid plastic teethers and use wooden teethers if necessary. 8



What’s the best type of drinking water bottle?


Least Energy Intensive (GJ/t) Least Embodied energy (MJ/kg) * Toxic-Free Highest Re-use 100% Recyclable Most Durable

100% Recyclable

Minmal Taste/odour

Durable but may dent

Dishwasher safe



* Source: Hammond, G. and Jones, C. (2011) The Inventory of Carbon and Energy




SHAMBALA FESTIVAL – Bring a Bottle Campaign What they did In 2013, Shambala Festival banned the sale of bottled water and asked all festival - goers, staff and artists to bring their own reusable bottles to the event. To help this initiative work, it was important to make it easier for customers to get fresh clean water by installing more taps across the site. The charity FRANK Water provided free chilled filtered water on all the bars and quality reusable bottles were sold to those that forgot to bring a bottle.

The total weight and volume of festival waste was reduced as a result of eliminating plastic disposables. The audience feedback on the Bring a Bottle initiatives was overwhelmingly positive, with 93% of respondents to a survey saying they “understood the reasons for the campaign and thought it was a good idea.� 10% of the audience purchased a branded water bottle, generating revenue. The initiative was at cost-neutral to the festival overall.

THE RESULTS Circa 10,000 plastic water bottles were prevented from being used once and thrown away or recycled. The festival site was remarkably cleaner as a direct result, with 40% less waste on the ground. Staffing required to litter pick is being reduced in 2014.


GLOSSARY Additives Additives are materials that are added to a polymer to produce a desired change in material properties or characteristics. A wide variety of additives are currently used in thermoplastics, to expand or extend material properties, enhance processability, modify aesthetics, or increase environmental resistance. Additives enhance properties like flame retardancy and UV light stability. Brominated Flame Retardents (BFRs ) are persistent organic compounds integrated into potentially flammable materials such as plastics, rubbers and textiles to reduce combustion.

Dioxins Dioxins are a group of chemicallyrelated compounds that are persistent environmental pollutants. They are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and cause cancer. Downcycling Downcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products that are of lesser quality and reduced functionality. 11


High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) HDPE has a higher density and chemical resistance than LDPE. HDPE is also harder, more opaque and brittle and can withstand higher temperatures. Among the contaminants to potentially migrate from HDPE into stored materials are antioxidants, including nonylphenol, an endocrine-disrupting compound used both as an antioxidant and as a plasticiser. Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) LDPE is not as strong as HDPE and has a lower density and melting point than HDPE. It has good chemical resistance but is prone to cracking and has poor UV resistance and barrier properties, except to water. Microplastics Microplastics can be made from polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, PVC or polystyrene. They are too small to be captured through existing wastewater treatment process, and wash straight into the ocean. They fall into three categories: the raw material called ‘nurdles‘ that are melted down to make larger plastic items or used as exfoliating beads in cosmetic products, or larger pieces of plastic that have degraded and broken down into smaller particles over time. Monomer A monomer is the molecular unit from which polymers are made.


Phthalates Phthalates are a group of chemicals widely used as plasticisers (softeners) in a vast range of plastic products including food packaging and food containers, toys, personal care products, cosmetics, adhesives, paints, medical equipment and PVC. These chemicals are not chemically bound to the plastic, and are able to migrate out of the material over time. Some widely used phthalates are known to disrupt reproduction, capable of causing changes to both male and female reproductive systems and birth defects during critical periods of development. A report in 2012 by the European Union highlights risks related to phthalates, and in particular the use of DEHP in PVC medical devices, states that blood bags made of DEHP-plasticised PVC are a significant risk to human health. 13 Plasticiser A softener incorporated (usually a plastic or an elastomer) to increase flexibility, workability or extensibility, such as food containers, which can release phthalates into your food. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) PET is a plastic resin and the most common type of plastic. Plasticisers are not required in PET for softening, but this polymer may contain additives. Although it does not represent many contaminants, reports have indicated that leaching of plastics’ components into beverages from PET can occur.

Polymer A polymer is a molecular chain formed by combining many smaller molecules. Polymers are the product of a reaction called polymerization, the process of connecting many (poly) single units (mers or mono-mers) to form long chain molecules of higher molecular weight. All plastic resins or materials are polymeric in nature. Polymerization The process of converting a monomer or a mixture of monomers into a polymer. Polypropylene (PP) Polypropylene is rugged and unusually resistant to many chemical solvents, bases and acids. In 2008, researchers in Canada identified families of PP compounds that had contaminated their labware and experimental results. They further demonstrated that the compounds interacted biologically with, and changed the behaviour of, human enzymes and brain receptors. 14

13 Raul C. and eco2win AB (2012) Life Cycle Assessment, LCA, of

PVC Blood Bag task=cat_view&Itemid=146&gid=44


McDonald, G. et al. (2008) Bioactive Contaminants Leach from Disposable Laboratory Plasticware, Science 322,


Polystyrene (PS) Polystyrene is lightweight and aerodynamic, so it is easily blown into gutters and drains even when properly disposed 14 of. Polystyrene is also very brittle and quickly breaks into small pieces making it impossible to clean up. It is a serious source of marine debris pollution and kills marine wildlife because it mimics food and causes starvation or choking if ingested.

of all plastics. PVC can be found in packaging, electronics, imitation leather, flooring and more. Stabilizer A substance used in the formulation of plastics to help maintain the properties of the material during processing and service life on certain types of plastic. Virgin Material A material that has not been previously used or consumed, or subjected to processing other than for its original production.

Source: Trashed, Blenheim Films 2102

Polyvinyl Chloride (PV/PVC) PVC (often referred to as the ‘Poison Plastic’) is the third-most widely produced plastic after PET and PP. PVC contains high levels of chlorine, carbon and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) which is explosive, highly toxic and carcinogenic. During the production of PVC, dioxins are created and released. PVC is made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticisers, the most widely used being phthalates. Attempts to recycle PVC have proven difficult - so much of it ends up in landfills. It is the single most environmentally damaging 13

Source: Surfrider Foundation and Rise Above Plastics

Making Waves is published by Raw Foundation, a Not For Profit committed to raising awareness about the hidden consequences of our everyday stuff, in partnership with Kambe Events, a sustainable event management consultancy, as a free resource.


VIDEOS The Story of Stuff The Story of Bottled Water Sir David Attenborough: Plastic Ocean Charles Moore: Seas of plastic e_on_the_seas_of_plastic Charles Moore: Synthetic Sea 2010 bQo Chris Jordan: Pictures some shocking stats pictures_some_shocking_stats Chris Jordan: Polluting Plastics Chris Jordan: Midway Ellen Macarthur Foundation: The Circular Economy Sylvia Earle: Protect our oceans prize_wish_to_protect_our_oceans

William McDonough: Cradle to Cradle o&feature=related FILMS Trashed (2012) An award winning film by Blenheim Films with Jeremy Irons. BOOKS Watson, M. (2009) ‘Materials Awareness’ in A. Stibe (ed) (2009) The Handbook of Sustainability Literacy: skills for a changing world. Totnes: Green Books. http://ar




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