Music festival waste, whether it be single-use plastics or abandoned camping equipment, is something that is seen every year. We’ve surveyed 253 people on their opinion and personal insight into waste at music festivals.


From the number of campers that leave equipment to the surprising insights of what people think happens with the waste, these statistics speak for themselves.


Key Statistics


Of the 253 people surveyed, we can pull out some key statistics about festival waste:


  • 1 in 5 people (19%) have left camping equipment behind at festivals.
  • 30% of people who have previously left camping equipment say they’re very or somewhat likely to do so again.
  • People are 9x more likely to leave camping equipment at a festival if they have done so before.
  • The primary reason for leaving campaign equipment is due to damaged or broken equipment. The second is that it’s easier than taking it home.
  • 68.4% of people think UK festivals could be doing more to combat waste.



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The Full Survey


We asked each person six questions regarding personal experiences and opinions on waste at music festivals. The data was gathered via an anonymous form shared on various interest groups on Facebook and Reddit.


The results of each question are shown below.


In the past, have you ever left camping equipment, such as tents or sleeping bags, at a festival?

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Whilst 17.5% of the people surveyed have left camping equipment at festivals, 1 in 5 people (19%) that have previously attended a festival had left camping equipment behind.


If you were to camp at a festival in the future, how likely would you be to leave camping equipment?

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Further to the information above, we found that just 34.1% of people that had previously left camping equipment are certain they wouldn’t do it again. This is compared to 78.6% of people that haven’t previously left camping equipment are certain they still wouldn’t in the future.


Of those that have previously left camping equipment at a festival, 4.5% have said they are likely to do so again in the future, compared to 0.5% of people who haven’t previously left equipment.


Our survey also found that people are 9 times more likely to leave camping equipment if they have previously done so before.


Additionally, 38.6% of people who had previously left camping equipment at a festival say they are unlikely to do so again, compared to only 19.8% of people who had never previously left camping equipment at a festival.


Would any of the following lead you to leave camping equipment, such as tents or sleeping bags, behind at a festival?

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Most people surveyed (62%), said they would never leave camping equipment behind at a music festival.


However, of the 38% of participants that would leave equipment, the leading reason for this is broken or damaged equipment, followed by it being easier than taking it home. 1.6% of people said they would leave equipment if there was a donations area.


From the comments section, we found that among the other reasons for camping equipment to be left at music festivals included forgetting to take it home, being too drunk, equipment being stolen, travelling abroad and damage to the tent due to vomiting.


One respondent also commented that they were encouraged to leave their equipment by festival staff, being told it would be recycled.


What do you think happens to abandoned tents and camping equipment at festivals?

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27.3% of respondents who had previously abandoned equipment thought it was recycled, compared to 17.1% of respondents who had never left equipment at a music festival.


People who have previously left equipment are twice as likely to believe it is recycled compared to those who haven’t.


54.5% of people who had previously left camping equipment at a festival thought it was incinerated or otherwise disposed of, compared to 65.2% of people who had never left camping equipment at a festival.


31.6% of people surveyed would leave broken or damaged equipment behind if they thought it was donated, compared to 43.9% of people who wouldn’t.


If the option were available, would you prefer to hire camping equipment such as a tent?

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Of those that have previously left camping equipment at a music festival, 36.4% would consider hiring equipment in the future, compared to 40.9% who would not.


Do you think UK festivals could be doing more to combat waste?

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77% of respondents who have previously left camping equipment believed that festival organisers could do more to combat waste, compared to 66% of respondents that had never left equipment.

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Additional comments


Among those that chose to fill out the additional comments section in the survey, the comments generally had varied opinions.


Below are a selection of the comments, some of which have been edited for length or to remove expletives.


“Festivals do a lot to reduce waste. They have strict vendor contracts around cups being paper or reusable plastic. Recyclables are recycled, compostables are composted. The biggest problem is abandonment by campers. Festivals really go into serious requirements at very detailed levels to reduce waste where they can, it’s really on public behaviour to get with it.” - Reddit user, goldfishpaws

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“Larger corporate festivals have much more waste produced and [it] is dealt with in a different way to smaller ones. Smaller ones are beginning to look at sustainable practices.” - Facebook user


In conclusion, 1 in 5 people has previously left camping equipment at festivals with the main reason being broken or damaged equipment.


It was also clear that those that have previously left camping equipment at festivals are less aware of what happens to the equipment left behind.