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‘No inflatables please’: Thames Water urges festival-goers to flush smart

Tuesday 24th August 2021 10:53

Waste from Reading festival will be converted to green energy at Reading sewage works

Waste from Reading Festival will be converted to green energy at the town's sewage works

With Reading Festival back this week, Thames Water is urging revellers to think about what they put down the toilets after tents, dolls and even an inflatable horse have been raked out by hand in previous years.

The UK’s largest water company is expected to take away a staggering 750,000 litres of waste from the site in Richfield Avenue over five days this week for it to be converted into renewable energy at nearby Reading sewage treatment works.

Thames Water, which is working towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030, will work with A1 Group Ltd to run a fleet of tankers around the clock to process and treat the huge quantity of poo and pee generated by legions of music fans returning after a two-year hiatus.

Andrew Scott, Thames Water’s regional operations manager for waste, said: “We know how excited everyone is to see the return of Reading Festival and we’ll be working day and night from Wednesday, when people start arriving, collecting and treating close to a million litres of sewage from the toilets.

“We want everyone to enjoy it but would urge people to please be careful about what they put down the infamous festival toilets. In the past we’ve had to drag out sleeping bags, foil blankets, mobile phones and even more unusual finds like toys and inflatables so they don't clog up our machines. This is a revolting job and unnecessary if people dispose of their waste responsibly.

"We’re therefore urging festival-goers to only put the three Ps down the loos - pee, poo and paper - and not to flush any other objects or rubbish down there."

Once the waste arrives at the sewage works in Island Road, it will be converted into electricity for the site by creating gas from a by-product called sludge, generating enough energy to power two homes for a day.

Reading sewage works produces 50 per cent of all the electricity it uses, while Thames Water as a whole generates around a quarter of the power it needs from waste.

In June, the company announced its commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions across all operations by 2030, before looking to become carbon negative by 2040. Last year, it produced over 311GWh (gigawatt-hours) of renewable electricity across its sites, almost enough to power the whole of Reading for a year, as well as recovering 150GWh of renewable heat from operations, reducing dependency on natural gas.

Reading Festival, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, runs from Friday, August 27, to Sunday, August 29, but ticket-holders arrive from tomorrow (August 25).