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Campaign group proposes £25 ‘tent tax’ to reduce dumping at festivals

By | Published on Thursday 29 August 2019


Despite efforts to stop festival-goers dumping their tents before going home, the message still isn’t getting through to many. Now a campaign group is proposing a £25 levy on festival tickets, which would be returned when the ticketholder leaves with their tent.

Earlier this year, Glastonbury reported that less than 1% of tents at the festival had been left behind this time. However, despite on-site efforts to convince music fans at Reading and Leeds earlier this month to leave their campsites clean – boosted by support from Billie Eilish and Twenty One Pilots – hundreds of people still left their tents behind.

Now campaign group Clean Up Britain is calling for a refundable £25 deposit on camping tickets, in the hope that hitting people’s wallets will change their behaviour.

“It’s very sad to see so many tents abandoned”, Clean Up Britain founder John Read tells The Telegraph. “It almost seems like a visual metaphor for Britain’s disposable society – why do they need to be left there and dumped?”

Speaking to the BBC, he said that any money raised from the proposed “tent tax” should be used to fund the clean-up and disposal of dumped tents.

The proposal has been supported by Keep Britain Tidy, whose CEO Allison Ogden-Newton tells the Evening Standard: “Research indicates festivals annually contribute about 23,500 tonnes of rubbish to landfill – mainly tents and other camping equipment. We need to harness that and really get people thinking about their waste footprint at festivals. Secondly it might make the manufacturers think about producing such cheap and nasty, single use tents and then selling them at low prices”.

Reading and Leeds organisers have not yet responded to the idea. Although there are potential logistical issues with the plan. Processing thousands of festival-goers as they leave the site would likely cause large queues. It may also be difficult to work out who had dumped their tent and who didn’t have one because they’d been sharing with someone else.

Plus, more affluent festival-goers might feel that the £25 fee clears their conscience as they discard their shitty supermarket tent before heading home – ie viewing it more as a disposal fee than an eco-tax.

Still, it is clear that something needs to be done about this issue, so the idea’s probably worth considering, even if it is a non-starter.