Case Study: Towersey Festival - In tune with waste and recycling at Towersey Festival

Oxfordshire’s Towersey Festival, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in August 2014, features four days and nights of the best acoustic, folk, blues, world and Americana music. Every year the festival, on the outskirts of Thame, sees campers, glampers and day trippers arrive to take over the village playing field and adjacent grazing land, mixing tents – large and small – with children’s play areas, music stages and catering facilities.

Towersey Festival bin station from Grundon Waste Management
Towersey Festival bin station from Grundon Waste Management

For the organisers, the challenge of managing waste disposal and recycling is of paramount importance, and this year they were delighted to achieve their target of recycling or recovering 86% of waste from the event.

The festival organisers work closely with Grundon Waste Management and its Special Events Services team, who provided compactors, front end loaders, rolonofs and wheelie bins.

During this year’s four-day event, some 19,000kg of waste was collected, with almost half sent to Energy from Waste and most of the remainder, which was mainly mixed recyclables such as paper, cardboard, plastics and glass, going to recycling.

As campers arrive, they are given two large bags – one for recycling and one for general waste – and skips are provided around the site for disposal, with extra bags available if required.

People are encouraged to clear their own pitch at the end of the festival and this year it’s estimated that 98% of festival goers did exactly that.

In addition, all traders at the festival are fully briefed about waste management and recycling facilities and encouraged to do their bit for the environment.

Steve Heap, director of Towersey Festival, said: “This was a really impressive achievement and we were delighted to have had such great results from the waste management team.

“Seeing hundreds of people cheering, singing, dancing, resting and generally enjoying our unique atmosphere is the best possible reward for a year’s work and knowing that their impact on the environment has been minimal makes it even more worthwhile.”

Playing a key role in the clean-up operation are the Towersey Wombles, a group of individuals originally recruited from a local Explorer Scout group in 2008, and who have supported the festival every year since.

Dressed in brightly-coloured boiler suits, the Wombles are on site during the festival, giving visitors advice and information on recycling, emptying bins and collecting litter, and then helping with the clean-up operation.

Nick George, who heads up the Wombles team, has visited Grundon’s Materials Recovery Facility and its Energy from Waste plant to find out more about recycling and pass on information to his fellow team members.

He says they have three main objectives:

  • To ensure all the venues and wider showground area have regularly emptied bins and are litter free, especially first thing in the morning
  • Post-event, to return the area to its original state as quickly as possible
  • To maximise recycling and minimise landfill, achieving year-on-year improvement

“The success of the Wombles team is achieved through providing a visible enthusiastic presence throughout the festival, seen working hard to support the event,” said Nick. “All the bins on the showground and outside the venues are clearly marked for recycling, glass and general waste and these are checked and emptied throughout each day from 8am onwards.

“At busy periods such as lunchtimes, that sometimes means the 240 litre bins are emptied every 30 minutes, enabling us to stay on top of managing the waste and, with Grundon’s help, we have achieved excellent results.”

Shaun Workman, from Grundon’s Special Events Services team, said: “Towersey is a very good example of a festival venue where the organisers take great care to manage their waste and work with us to look for opportunities to recycle and recover waste wherever possible.

“Introducing food waste segregation this year was a big plus and another excellent idea is the fact they encourage campers to take responsibility for their own waste, which clearly works.”

The success of the waste management campaign was such that the eco-savings achieved amount to the equivalent of 85 trees and 4,374 kg of CO2, as well as generating over 5 MWh of power.

For more information on how Grundon can make a difference to your event, contact

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