New Project to Tackle Campsite Waste at Reading Festival

Festival Republic, JB, outdoor retailer Blacks, and design consultancy WeAllDesign brought together to tackle campsite waste by the Knowledge Transfer Network, supported by Innovate UK

Festival Republic, Julie’s Bicycle, outdoor and leisure retailer Blacks, and design and sustainability consultancy WeAllDesign are launching a ground breaking collaborative partnership through the Knowledge Transfer Network to better understand the behavioural issues surrounding abandoned camping equipment at festivals and to trial alternative services at Reading Festival 2015.

Every year, around 45,000 tents are brought to Reading Festival, countless of which (and other camping equipment) are left behind at the end of the weekend.

In a survey conducted by Festival Republic, it was discovered that 30% of Reading Festival attendees leave their tents and camping equipment, with 79% stating they were ‘too tired’ post Festival, whilst 59% viewed tents and camping equipment as ‘cheap and easily replaceable.’

Based on these results, an estimated 13,500 tents were left behind. If the average cost of a tent is £40, then the approximate cost to the audience of equipment left behind is over £500,000. This is not yet counting the additional cost of the clean-up operation, and the environmental cost of the materials, manufacture, and their disposal.

Each year, volunteers already partake in the salvage operation to scour camp sites recovering tents, sleeping bags, and camping equipment left behind. In 2013, 20 tonnes of reusable items were rescued from Reading Festival camp sites and in 2014, 19 tonnes were salvaged. However, additional solutions are required. The project will test festival-goers interest in additional camping services, such as tent cleaning and packing away, designed to add value to tents and camping equipment to encourage festival goers to treat their equipment better and ultimately take it away at the end of the festival.

The trial is made possible by a grant of £20,000 from Innovate UK.

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with KTN and Julie’s Bicycle, tackling camp site waste problem is an issue we’re extremely focused on changing. This trial at Reading Festival 2015 will test brand-new services that will aide keeping camping equipment. We’re excited for the outcome and moving this initiative forward.”

– Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic

“Re-thinking our work so that environmental impacts are addressed as a matter of course is not only better for our planet – it’s better for our long term business prospects too. This project brings together the key protagonists who can help to make our festivals more sustainable, in every sense.”

– Alison Tickell, Founder and CEO of Julie’s Bicycle

“As is so often the case with a big challenge like this, the solution can be found when you bring together different expertise and abilities. The KTN exists to help bring businesses and people together for this very purpose. We’re delighted that the work we've been doing with partners on this problem has meant that, with the support of funding from our sponsoring body Innovate UK, we are bringing to fruition a project that could be transformative for festivals in the UK and beyond.”

– Frank Boyd, Director of Creative, Design and Digital Industries at the Knowledge Transfer Network

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