HebCelt’s ban on plastics wins government backing

Photo credit: Colin Cameron

UK: HebCelt Festival is banning single-use plastics from its site this year as it steps up a drive to make the event as environmentally friendly as possible.

The action – announced during Green Arts Day on March 14 – is the latest in a series of pioneering green initiatives adopted by the event and has won support from the Scottish Government, which has urged other events to follow the festival’s lead.

HebCelt banned plastic straws four years ago and in 2015 introduced re-usable, eco-cups in onsite bars to cut down on plastic waste.

Caterers at this year’s event, which will run from July 19 – 21 in Stornoway, have now been asked to serve soft drinks in paper cups and continue to use 100% biodegradable plates and cutlery which can be composted with organic waste.

The festival will also increase the number of ‘hydration stations’ on the site; supply free, bio-degradable paper cups; and encourage festival-goers to use re-usable water bottles.

In addition, artists, volunteers and crew will be supplied with free water bottles to avoid the need to bring in supplies of bottled water.

Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “I welcome HebCelt’s steps to ban single use plastic items. It’s good to see communities and organisations across Scotland taking steps to help change Scotland’s throwaway culture and I would encourage other organisations to follow HebCelt’s example and consider what they can do to reduce single use plastics.

“Through our national litter and marine litter strategies, we are minimising the amount of plastic which gets thrown away.

“We also back the EU’s vision to phase out single-use plastics by 2030. We are committed to introducing a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and have proposed a ban on plastic-stemmed cotton buds, both of which pollute our natural environment.”

HebCelt’s commitment to reducing plastic waste is also in line with the Final Straw campaign, which has helped cut back on the use of plastic straws, and the Making Waves Guide, published this month by RAW Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation committed to educating people to move towards sustainable consumption.

In January, HebCelt’s environmental credentials earned it a Highly Commended accolade at A Greener Festival Awards event in Holland, the only Scottish festival to earn the accolade.

It followed actions relating to the sustainable use of resources, reducing emissions and waste and raising awareness of environmental matters among festival-goers, artists, volunteers, suppliers and contractors.

Other actions have included being the first Scottish festival to partner with E-Car Club to provide a fleet of electric vehicles discounted for music fans and providing extensive re-cycling points on site.

HebCelt director, Caroline Maclennan, said: “The festival is proud of its success at recycling and minimising waste on the site, and the recent focus on plastics has prompted us to see what else we can do to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated.

“The extra measures introduced this year will not only reduce the amount of plastic being processed but will also help to keep the site clear of litter and therefore more pleasant for festival-goers.

“The success of these actions is dependent on the goodwill of our visitors, the willingness of our vendors to participate in green initiatives and the sterling efforts of our Green Team, who strive so hard to keep the festival site clean and tidy.

“But we’ve been hugely encouraged by the willingness of festival-goers to take part in these initiatives over the years and are confident they will support the plastics ban as the next stage in the process.”

The first Green Arts Day is being organised by Creative Carbon Scotland. Catriona Patterson, Creative Carbon Scotland’s Green Arts Project Manager, said: “HebCelt is an excellent example of how the arts and cultural sector is taking action to create a better world as part of the Green Arts Initiative, which now counts 200 organisations amongst its membership.

“We are thrilled to see them using the first ever #GreenArts Day to announce this display of leadership. It’s especially good to see a festival in Stornoway taking this excellent step and shows that, no matter where you are, with some ingenuity and commitment there’s always steps you can take to play a part in creating a better world.

“We facilitate the Green Arts Initiative to support the sector on taking action to improve all areas of their environmental performance. Single-use plastic and other forms of waste are an increasingly topical issue and one which is of particular relevance to the cultural sector.”