Illawarra Folk Festival bans single-use plastic water bottles

Sydney Water's Peter Hadfield and David De Santi at one of the free water points ready for the Illawarra Folk Festival this weekend. Picture: Robert Peet

Sydney Water's Peter Hadfield and David De Santi at one of the free water points ready for the Illawarra Folk Festival this weekend. Picture: Robert Peet

The Illawarra Folk Festival is hoping to be in tune with the environment by banning the sale of bottled water.

While festivalgoers will still be able to bring bottles of store-bought water into the festival, which runs at Bulli Showground until Sunday, they are encouraged to bring refillable water bottles.

Sydney Water has chipped in to help, providing several water stations where punters can refill their bottles as many times as they like – for free.

If folk lovers forget to bring a bottle, souvenir folk festival bottles are on sale for $6.

The bottles carry a message from Green Music Australia that “single-use, disposable plastic water bottles are one of the most unnecessary environmental impacts of music festivals”. 

Festival artistic director David De Santi said this was the second year plastic water bottles had been banned from sale at the Bulli site.

And he said he saw the difference it made in terms of the waste generated.

“There was only the bottles that people would have brought in themselves,” he said.

“Our volume of waste was certainly reduced, because every bottle takes up a bit of space.”

Peter Hadfield from Sydney Water said, while plastic water bottles were recyclable, that didn’t justify their usage.

“The problem with recycling is that, although the plastic bottles are recyclable, there’s actually only a small amount that ends up being recycled,” Mr Hadfield said.

“The rest end up in landfill, or worse, end up as litter on the ground or in the waterways – and the ocean.”

Mr De Santi said it wasn’t the case that bottled water bought in the store was somehow “better” that that flowing from the water stations at the festival.

“It’s good quality water, it’s Sydney Water,” he said.

“I think there’s this perception that people buy bottled water and it’s better than tap water.”

“Sometimes it is just tap water put in a bottle,” Mr Hadfield added.

For those not too worried about saving the world, Mr Hadfield pointed out that plastic bottles aren’t cheap.

“Ordinarily at an event like this, you’re paying four or five dollars for a bottle of water, so it becomes an expensive exercise,” Mr Hadfield said.

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