Iconic music festival inspires business to tackle drastic plastic threat

East Yorkshire’s biggest music festival has provided the blueprint for a brand new business which is setting out to show event organisers nationwide how to clean up their act.

ERS Services Ltd is taking the plastic reduction programme pioneered at Humber Street Sesh and applying it as the model for use at other festivals and other sites which accommodate a lot of people in a large area.

The company, set up by Robert Mays and Graham Quinn, is also exploring opportunities with its landlords and neighbours at The Deep Business Centre in Hull to extend knowledge of the different types of plastic to reduce environmental damage more effectively.

Robert is the Bars Manager at Humber Street Sesh, which has worked hard over the last two years to reduce the amount of single-use plastic generated by the festival. In 2018, festival organisers collected thousands of bottles by operating a plastic exchange, with music fans swapping their throw away bottles for reusable cups.

Many of the bottles were used to create a giant plastic sea turtle, commissioned by the University of Hull and displayed at the British Science Festival to encourage people to think about what they can do to reduce waste.

The cup swap continued at last year’s Sesh and was reinforced with the introduction of free water stations, recycling sites and a drive to encourage food vendors to use compostable food packaging and fully recyclable cups for hot and cold drinks.

Robert said: “The results were phenomenal. In 2018 we had about 44,000 plastic bottles on the Sesh site and last year we reduced that by 98 per cent. We had been working on the idea of ERS for some time and that inspired us to push on.”

Robert is also driving the green agenda in his wine import and distribution business, which uses eco-friendly glue, grape waste for packaging, sugar cane for corks and a crusher to turn waste glass into sand which can be recycled for the construction industry. But ERS is on a bigger scale altogether.

Robert said: “Having seen what’s possible at Humber Street Sesh we are in touch with operators of even bigger festivals elsewhere in the country. We’re also looking at other big events and sites such as sports events and conferences. Anything that attracts a lot of people.

“The festivals themselves create an inner city. They are a challenge to reduce waste and they are also present a learning opportunity. Whether it’s office waste, manufacturing waste or whatever we have the capability to make sure it doesn’t end up in landfill. We are offering ways to help companies reduce their CO2 and become more sustainable by giving them the right tools and education to understand what can and can’t be done.”

Freya Cross, Head of Business and Corporate at The Deep, said: “As a marine and environmental charity everything we do at The Deep and the Business Centre puts conservation before profit and with Humber Street Sesh taking place right on our doorstep we’ve been really impressed by their efforts to reduce single-use plastic in an industry that has relied heavily on this product.

“We’re delighted to welcome ERS Services to the Business Centre and we look forward to exploring how we might work together to inform and promote best practice to reduce future plastic usage and deal with the complexity of current plastic waste.”

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