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This is really positive, as far as ‘not wasting stuff’ is concerned – but it’s not actually our ultimate goal. Instead, our focus is on reducing the waste created in the first place (and we’re doing well in that regard too, reducing the total tonnes of waste created, year on year) and recycling as much as possible.

If we’re left with anything that we can’t capture as ‘clean waste streams’ to recycle, it goes to a facility that recovers materials, with anything left being used to create energy – even the ash is used. Zero waste is our end goal, rather than zero waste to landfill – but zero waste to landfill is still a decent part of the puzzle.

The Recycling Exchange

We’d rather spend your money on music and art than waste and landfill tax!

The Recycling Exchanges have been incredibly successful over the past three years – thanks to your support and participation, they receive over 5 tonnes of recyclable waste per year and achieve double the rate of recycling compared to the campsites! If you’re one of the 3,000+ of Shambalans who use the recycling exchange, give yourself a massive pat on the back and bask in the knowledge that we think you’re totally brilliant.

How does it work?

Firstly, we’ve changed how we manage the process in 2022, so please read this even if you’re a Recycling Exchange veteran.

  • When you buy your tickets you will be charged a one off £10 “Recycling Deposit”. You will only be charged this once regardless of how many tickets, or ticket types, you add to your booking – providing you use the same email address and Ticket Sellers account. This means you can add extra tickets to your booking at a later date without incurring additional “Recycling Deposit” charges.
  • On arrival at the festival you will be handed two bags – a green bag for mixed dry recyclables – it says on the bag what to put in – and a grey bag for ‘other waste’.
  • Put your waste in these bags during the festival
  • Take them down to one of our 3 Recycling Exchanges (during their open hours only – which are 12 – 5pm on Sunday and 8am – 2pm on Monday) 
  • Then, either: Claim your £10 back – a refund will be made directly to your bank from the ticket agent, or… Collect a limited edition festival pack (while stocks last)
  • It is estimated that refunds will be received by customers within 48 hours of the exchanges closing on the Monday, but this is very dependent on the particular banks of customers and approach to working days, especially as it is a bank holiday Monday. Please be patient. If there are any issues please contact TTS directly.

Note that anyone in your ticket group can reclaim the deposit or festival pack on their wristband with just a quick zap – isn’t technology wonderful!

The big one – we give out a pair of tickets to next year’s Shambala at random to Recycling Exchangers!

Why do we do this?

About 70% of Shambala’s waste comes from the public campsites. Too much waste which could be recycled isn’t separated and in the past has gone to landfill. Often the waste in the green bags is too contaminated ( i.e. not separated) to be recycled efficiently.

The initiative is designed to inspire everyone to take recycling into their own hands (quite literally) to achieve maximum recycling rates, make the festival site cleaner and reduce landfill costs. The site is now amazingly more clean because of this initiative! Unclaimed deposits are strictly ring-fenced for environmental projects at the festival, such as helping pay for the staffing of the recycling exchanges and increased infrastructure for recycling.


2018 marked the second year of our ‘Bring A Cup’ scheme – where we encourage our audience to bring their own, reusable cup for any hot drinks they wish to buy on site. Those that use a disposable coffee cup are charged a levy on each cup, and use the dedicated bins, so we can capture the disposable cups and get them properly recycled* at one of the few plants in the country that offer this service. Cups that go in the wrong bin are not able to be recycled properly – so we were very pleased to capture 12,000 cups from the dedicated bins this year – an increase of over 50% on last year.

(* most recycling plants are not able to recycle cardboard coffee cups, due to a sneaky polymer lining). 

Compost Toilets

Compost toilets treat human waste and turn it into organic compost material, perfect for fertilising soil. They work by creating anaerobic conditions that facilitate the growth conditions for micro-organisms and bacteria that decompose the waste. This helps to destroy nasty pathogens, avoid water waste, limit the environmental impact and results in a product that can be used to fertilise soil. The beautiful flower planters on site (near the chair-o-plane) were actually grown using your.. well, you get the idea.

Food Waste

We do everything possible to avoid waste. To tackle surplus food and food waste we do collections from traders and campsites on Monday and give the food to a local surplus food café who provide Pay What You Feel meals in a community space.

Our approach to stuff

We are committed to moving to a fully ‘circular’ materials economy. We are designing out waste from our festival ecosystem wherever possible, and recycle as much as possible that remains. Recycling is great if the stuff already exists, and although it helps to avoid landfilling or burning waste, it’s a process that consumes energy and creates pollutants, and often down-cycles materials. We aim to avoid using resources and materials in the first place by encouraging re-use wherever possible.

The Recycling Exchange helps reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by capturing as many separated materials ready for recycling as possible. Many hands make light work, and we believe it’s a positive thing to all be involved in managing our waste. We’re also committed to the ‘polluter pays principle’, i.e. if you don’t muck in, you’ve paid for someone else to do it. We’d rather everyone gets involved, however.

We encourage all Shambalans to really think about what they bring with them this year – lets reduce the amount of unnecessary “stuff” on site.  This is already covered in the above sections – and there’s a section for the recycling exchange further up – this section seems to be repeating what we’ve already said.

After the show, our Green Team collect all useable surplus food from traders and donates it to a pay-as-you-feel café.