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Association Of Independent Festivals pressures retailers to stop selling single-use tents

By | Published on Thursday 9 May 2019


The Association Of Independent Festivals has launched a new campaign aiming to reduce the number of tents abandoned after music festivals in the UK each year. As well as impressing on music fans the importance of taking their tents home, the organisation is also campaigning to stop the sale of single-use tents at major retailers.

An estimated 250,000 are left on festival campsites around the UK each year. Some people believe that abandoned tents are usually collected by charities, although the sheer number of such tents means only a tiny fraction are actually used in this way. Also, many tents are not left in a state to be re-used. The vast majority of tents are non-recyclable, meaning that they go to landfill, creating 900 tonnes of plastic waste each year – the amount of plastic in an average tent is equivalent to 8750 straws or 250 pint cups.

In the run up to festival season, numerous retailers market ‘festival tents’ – cheap tents that cost so little that they are often seen as disposable. Research by Comp-A-Tent suggests that as many as 36% of tents left at festivals are bought from either Argos or Tesco. Retailers often also sell sleeping bags, airbeds and camping chairs at negligible prices, adding further to waste generated by festival-goers.

“We call upon major retailers to stop marketing and selling tents and other camping items as essentially single-use, and profiting from disposable culture”, says AIF CEO Paul Reed. “AIF launches this campaign to raise awareness and highlight abandoned tents as part of the single-use plastics problem. The message here is not ‘buy a more expensive tent’ – with a single tent carrying the same amount of plastic as more than 8700 plastic straws, festival audiences can take positive action and reduce their carbon footprint simply by taking their tent home and re-using it, ensuring that it doesn’t become a single-use item this summer”.

The issue of abandoned tents at festivals has been on the agenda for a number of years, but became more widely known last year when an aerial image of thousands of abandoned tents after the Leeds Festival was posted on Twitter.

Find out more about the campaign here, and watch a short video here: