In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival industry will still find itself facing another huge problem: plastic pollution.

Sustainable event advocates A Greener Festival (AGF) hosted a webinar on Friday 5 May to address this issue, titled ‘Preventing Plastic Pollution Post-Pandemic’. The webinar gathered together a panel of experts to discuss the problem of plastic pollution at festivals.

It was hosted by AGF’s Claire O’Neill, who was joined by Patricia Yague, Head of Sustainability for Live Nation Europe, Alex Brooke of Peppermint Events, Camille Guitteau of Bye Bye Plastic, James Roles of StackCup and Melinda Watson of the Raw Foundation.

One problem that was addressed was that the Covid-19 crisis could contribute to plastic pollution, particularly if personal protective equipment (PPE) such as facemasks become necessary to attend events.

PPE presents a difficult problem for waste management as potentially contaminated material cannot be recycled or shared between different people.

Patricia Yague, Head of Sustainability at Live Nation Europe, spoke about Live Nation’s sustainability charter. The initiative aims to eliminate the sale of single use plastic at Live Nation Europe events by 2021. “There is no one size fits all solution. It will vary in every region,” said Yague.

Camille Guitteau is Co-Founder of the Bye Bye Plastic Foundation, which aims to drastically reduce the amount of single use plastic in the electronic music industry. She highlighted that in some areas of Europe, bring-your-own cup policies are actually illegal due to security concerns.

However, these difficulties should not stop the events industry from trying to address these critical issues, said StackCup MD James Roles. He pointed towards the SSE Arena, Wembley, which has recently put in place a £1 deposit on reusable cups at the venue, and to Scotland which plans to install a levy of 20p on disposables.

All of the panellists highlighted that the disruption caused by Covid-19 should be a good opportunity for the events industry to take a long look at its sustainable practices, and assess whether or not they are good enough. If organisers do not give some thought to problems like the disposal of PPE, this could cause larger issues in 2021 and beyond.