Shambala Festival are bringing back proper plates

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Shambala Festival are bringing back proper plates


This weekend sees the first big festival trial a proper plate rent and return scheme so you can eat your falafel/noodles/seitin burgers without needing single use stuff.

Old fashioned or revolutionary? Either way it reduces waste. We take a closer look.

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Fri 24 Aug 2018

Disposing of disposables this weekend is Shambala Festival, who are trialling a new plate return scheme with Unpackaged and the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Festival goers rent a reusable plate or bowl with their meal for a £2 deposit. Once they're finished, they drop it off at the Less Mess tent where it will be washed and their deposit returned. 

Washing dishes is nothing to be sniffed at. The goal is to avoid using up to 10,000 disposable plates (approximately one tonne of waste). The trial will be examined in a report next month with the idea of rolling it out across other mainstream festivals next year.

Shambala Festival trials Less Mess programme

The Less Mess plate return tent at Shambala. Would use it next summer?

Image Photography | Dan Farrell

The pioneering plate service, Less Mess, is provided by zero waste store consultants Unpackaged and the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) as a pilot project, before being offered to all festivals next year. Behind the scenes, all crew catering will also be using reusable plates at Shambala.

Chris Johnson, Festival Co Founder says:  "We are always questioning how we can radically reduce resources, use and waste. Recycling isn’t the ultimate answer – not using it in the first place is. In a bid to be disposables free by 2020, all roads lead to reuse."

He has a good point. Just because there are biodegradable options for single use plates, cutlery and so on - they still have be sorted and dealt with, and our infrastructure can't keep up with the pace of innovation, so even the 'bio' options can end up in landfill or being incinerated.

Shambala is already one of the UK's greenest festivals, having banned disposable coffee cups last year and plastic bottles in 2015. It went meat and fish free in 2016. Last year the festival only sent 9% of its waste to landfill, partly by charging an additional deposit that was refunded when campers handed in bags full of their pre-sorted rubbish and recycling.

Click here for 10 easy ways you can have a plastic free festival this summer.