Vision 2025 loading now
Food and DrinkWaste

Hay Festival

Hay Festival was founded in 1987 and has taken place annually every year since. Hay has grown rapidly in recent years, with many offshoots across the world since 2006. The original festival in Wales brings together over 600 international authors and thinkers in 700+ events over an 11-day period each May/June. 

International Hay Festivals are held over 4-day weekends, typically with between 50 and 100 events, in countries across the world from Spain to Colombia. Hay Festivals celebrate great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking.

Sustainability is core to Hay Festival, both on stage and in the development and management of the Festival as an organisation and we have been engaged in a programme of managing and mitigating our environmental impact since 2007.

In 2018 Hay Festival was the first festival to trial a new, reusable hot drinks cup which has resulted in a huge reduction in waste – from 350 wheelie bins full of disposable coffee cups down to just 25. In 2019 they introduced a deposit scheme for cups and glasses running across the festival site to make further waste reductions: £1 deposit was collected at the point of sale for each cup or glass served and refunded on return at one of our three Cup Return Points on site.  As a result of these changes they saw the following waste reductions:

Compostable coffee cups:    
2017 : 350 full wheelie bins 
2018 : 25 full wheelie bins = 92% decrease.
2019 : 11 full wheelie bins = 56% decrease.
Plastic and cans for recycling:
2017 : 1000 full wheelie bins
2018 : 850 full wheelie bins = 15% decrease
2019 : 479 full wheelie bins = 44% decrease

The Cup Scheme along with a tougher regime on waste generation in general led to a 25% decrease in general un-recyclable waste compared to 2018.

Photo – Food Hall at Hay Festival 2019
Credit – Adam Tatton-Reid