UK festivals should be fined if they don’t meet green standards, says new research 

26 June 2019

With the muddy fields of Glastonbury beckoning music lovers in the coming days, and a raft of other festivals planned for summer, new research finds that an overwhelming majority of people think festival organisers need to be held responsible for delivering environmentally friendly events.

Polling from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) found that just under three-quarters (74%) of the public thinks that festivals should be fined if they don't meet environmental standards, with the proceeds going to charities or organisations that tackle environmental impact. 

A further 77% said festivals should have robust environmental policies to offset their carbon and waste footprints, with more than eight in 10 (84%) agreeing that festivals have a responsibility to ensure their events are environmentally friendly and sustainable.

The research was conducted just before the world's largest concert promoter, Live Nation, promised to eliminate single-use plastics at its venues and festivals by 2021. This means that UK festivals including Reading and Leeds, Wireless, Latitude and Download, will go plastic free within two years. Glastonbury organisers have also stated that this year’s event will be the first to feature no plastic drinks containers.

Susan Pinkney, Head of Research at the Charities Aid Foundation, sees a clear link between public sentiment and enhanced environmental policies at many UK festivals.

“The data is telling us that festival-goers are increasingly conscious of their environmental impact when going to an event. This taps into a broader trend in society, such as the environmental cost of fast fashion and single-use plastics being widely criticised in recent months.”

The data also found, however, that 78% of the public believe individuals have a clear responsibility to clean up their own waste at festivals, rather than just leaving it to the organisers and clean-up teams. 

When asked if they’d consider paying a small fee that goes towards environmental charities when buying a festival ticket – as a way of off-setting the festival's environmental impact – only 12% of the public disagreed with this approach.

“Our numbers show that there’s broad support amongst the public for UK festivals to be as sustainable as possible,” Pinkney continues. “This support is quite consistent regardless of age or gender, which suggests that environmentally friendly policies are here to stay at UK festivals.”

The Charities Aid Foundation already partners with major retailers to manage the funds generated by the 5p plastic bag levy, ensuring these are distributed to good causes. Figures released by the Department of Food and Rural Affairs in July 2018 found that nearly £60 million of the levy had gone to good causes and charities in 2017/18.  

Research released earlier this year also found the public supportive of the idea of levies raised from single use cups – the so-called ‘latte levy’ – and proposed bottle deposit schemes being directed towards environmental charities.

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