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Friends of the Earth brings 160 volunteers to Electric Picnic to tackle plastic pollution and invites Environment Minister, Denis Naughten, to see how 'deposit and return' system works

31 Aug 2018

August 31, 2018

For Immediate Release

Friends of the Earth will be the largest NGO at the Electric Picnic music festival this weekend in Stradbally, Co. Laois. The environmental organisation is bringing 160 volunteers to the Picnic as part of their popular “Sick of Plastic” campaign.

For the fourth year in a row, Friends of the Earth is operating three deposit and return stations for plastic cups and bottles in the Electric Picnic arena. Festival attendees pay a €0.20 deposit on every drink they purchase from the bars and that money is refunded to anyone who brings empty cups or plastic bottles to the cup deposit stations. Year on year, the number of returned cups has increased from 60,000 cups in 2015 to over 265,000 in 2017. This year the organization expects numbers to rise considerably as the public are more informed and concerned about the impacts of plastic pollution than ever before.

Director of Friends of the Earth, Oisin Coghlan, elaborates:

The cup deposit and return system at Electric Picnic is a great example of how a plastic deposit and return system could work across Ireland. The arena is much cleaner as a result, and the cups are segregated from other waste so they become a valuable product for recycling. Minister Denis Naughten is delaying the Waste Reduction Bill because of his concerns about deposit and return schemes, but if you can do it in a field in County Laois, you can do it across the country. We’re inviting Environment Minister Denis Naughten to visit our cup deposit and return stations here at Electric Picnic to see that the idea to ‘return not burn’ plastic waste is a win-win solution.

The “Green Messengers” volunteer team will engage with festival goers in the campsites and arena to improve recycling and reduce waste across the Picnic. This includes offering competitions and incentives to those who bring recyclable material to recycling stations; educating people about the compostable cutlery available from food vendors and the need to ‘leave no trace’ and take camping gear home; encouraging people to sign their ‘Sick of Plastic’ petition to support the Waste Reduction Bill; and operating the phenomenally successful cup deposit and return system.

Friends of the Earth’s Head of Communications, Dr. Cara Augustenborg, explains:

"Festivals like Electric Picnic are a great place to engage people in talking about consumption and sustainability, perhaps because they’re a temporary city in a field where the usual infrastructure that normally hides pollution becomes more visible and obvious. We hope to make real positive impact this year to keep Electric Picnic clean and educate people in the process to take these lessons beyond the festival and tackle plastic pollution across Ireland.”


To arrange interviews or for additional information: Dr. Cara Augustenborg, Head of Science and Communications:


  1. Friends of the Earth’s petition and information on their Sick of Plastic campaign is here.
  2. Friends of the Earth will be showcasing their efforts at Electric Picnic on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook throughout the weekend under #plasticfree #returnnotburn #mycleanpicnic and #EP2018 campaigns.
  3. Photo caption: A Friends of the Earth Green Messenger supporting efforts to "green" Electric Picnic 2017. Photo provided with permission by Friends of the Earth Ireland.

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