Rock N’ Roll Recycling

While the passing of another August Bank Holiday weekend is usually met with despair at there being no more public holidays until Christmas, this year’s was, for us, a great affair with glorious sunny days and a visit to Leeds Festival, which runs over the long weekend every year.

While we’re not music journalists, it was a great weekend lineup with the usual smorgasbord of musical talent; everything from indie rockers The Libertines and The Cribs, through the slightly more chilled Mumford & Sons and Alt-J to heavy metal juggernauts Metallica and Royal Blood. All in all, everyone seemed intent on making the most of the British weather with a drink (or in some cases, several!) and some good music.

While our own view of the whole event was probably the same as any of the other festival-goers, we turned up, had a nice time, packed up our things and went home again, there is a huge other side to the whole affair.

This ‘unseen’ side of Leeds festival actually came as a reminder, on a lorry once Leeds festival was all over. We were able to see first hand a part of the clean up, when our metal recyclers arrived at our works loaded with an inordinate number of empty drinks cans, all neatly squashed and bailed ready for recycling.

While the logistics of catering for the thousands of people at Leeds Festival is a dizzying concept, clearing up after them is no less taxing. Leaving the debris behind after thousands of people have spent three days living on a site isn’t an option and is an environmental nightmare which would take decades to begin to recover. Putting it into landfill is just as environmentally unfriendly, so the obvious choice becomes recycling.

While we only saw a small part of the clean up operation, the value of the scrap metal is actually astounding. The value of aluminium drinks cans alone is worth over £700 per tonne, which today would make up the bulk of the beer and fizzy drinks containers on the back of the lorry. Individually, each person may throw away a few pence of aluminium per day, scaled up through the 75,000+ attendees, several thousand pounds of valuable metal becomes available. Once this is expanded to all refuse and ‘left-behind’ items, such as tent poles, empty gas canisters, deodorant tins and food cans, and the festival itself practically becomes a valuable resource for recycling and scrap metal.

West Yorkshire Steel are very proud to work in an industry that takes recycling so seriously as not only an environmental concern, but one that makes a positive economic impact from what other people may term to be ‘rubbish’ and what historically would have been consigned as worthless. As it used to be said, “Where there’s muck, there’s brass”, but here there’s a much shorter link between discarded metal and gold!