Glastonbury Festival ‘saves more carbon emissions than it produces’

The cleanup begins at the Glastonbury Festival in 2019 (PA)

The Glastonbury Festival, which creates a makeshift town of more than 200,000 people in the Somerset countryside, is having a net positive impact on the climate, according to new analysis.

Despite generating over 2,000 tonnes of waste, Glastonbury saves nearly 600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the analysis by environmental advisory group The Eco Experts.

The main reason it saves emissions is due to the thousands of trees planted in the area since 2000, which will now absorb around 800 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, according to calculations by The Eco Experts. But it also offsets its emissions in other ways.

Glastonbury also had a history of progressive environmental policies, promoting its ‘Love the Farm: Leave No Trace’ message.

The end of the Glastonbury Festival in 2019 (PA)

The end of the Glastonbury Festival in 2019 (PA)

Since 1984, The Green Fields has been powered by renewable solar, wind and pedal power and the farm where the festival takes place now has its own solar power.

All on-site mains power is supplied from certified renewable energy sources. The festival has also banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles and encourages festival-goers to ditch their cars by selling coach ticket packages and running free shuttles. All of this helps Glastonbury save more emissions than it produces, according to The Eco Experts.

Comparing the emissions of 200,000 revelers to the amount they would emit if they weren’t spending time on a farm in Somerset, Glastonbury saves around 1,278 tonnes of emissions.

Eco-experts have broken down the festival’s greenhouse gas emissions savings as follows:

Waste

The festival estimates that it produces around 2,000 tonnes of waste each year, around half of which is reused or recycled.

Taking recycling and reuse into account, Glastonbury’s total waste emits around 224 tonnes of greenhouse gases, according to analysis by The Eco Experts.

But if you compare that to what 200,000 people would normally emit, it still saves emissions, according to The Eco Experts.

Indeed, the recycling rate in Glastonbury is higher than that of an average national household which reuses or recycles around 46% of its waste. This difference saves about 39 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the analysis. The festival also saves an additional 136 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by composting more food waste than the national average.

So while Glastonbury’s waste emits a total of 224 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, compared to the emissions produced by 200,000 people outside the festival, it saves around 175 tonnes.

Water

Using water at Glastonbury releases around 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to The Eco Experts.

However, Glastonbury participants use 10 times less water than they would at home due to the lack of on-site showers. This saves almost 130 million liters and more than 100 tons of carbon emissions compared.

But overall, Glastonbury still emits more carbon equivalent than it saves when it comes to supplying water to its festival-goers.

Energy

When it comes to energy, Glastonbury offsets more carbon than it emits, according to The Eco Experts.

This is mainly due to its use of solar energy and biofuels. Using renewable energy sources means the festival offsets about 30 tonnes more emissions than it produces, according to the analysis. So in this area the festival is carbon positive.

It’s unclear how much energy and fuel is saved compared to if the 200,000 ticket holders were at home and going about their normal lives.

The shifts

Glastonbury’s main emissions offsets come from trees.

Since 2000, it has organized the planting of more than 10,000 trees on the territory, which now absorb around 800 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

This makes a total of 830 tons if we add the 30 tons saved thanks to the use of solar and biofuels. If you subtract water and waste emissions from this figure (around 230 tonnes), Glastonbury saves around 600 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents every time it is lit, The Eco Experts concluded.

Comparing the emissions of 200,000 revelers to what the same number of people would normally emit, Glastonbury saves even more – around 1,278 tonnes.

“Music festivals are, by nature, carbon-intensive events,” said Josh Jackman, who conducted the analysis for The Eco Experts. “Their often remote locations encourage the use of diesel generators; tons of plastic waste are thrown away; and the energy expended to keep fans and artists coming and going is enormous.

Jan G. Gilbert