September 21, 2023

Are the band’s fans as environmentally conscious as they are?

Coldplay have entertained Cardiff for the past two nights on their “eco-friendly” tour of the Welsh capital.

The band said they were trying to make their Music Of The Spheres Tour as sustainable and low carbon as possible.

On Tuesday morning, Chris Martin arrived in the city center by train ahead of the gigs.

But how environmentally friendly are the band’s fans and what impact do these tours have on the city?

More than 100,000 fans flocked to the capital to see the band perform, including 23-year-old Sarah Owens, who went to celebrate her birthday.

She said it was great to see the performance being environmentally friendly.

“Before the performance, they played a video showing how the ticket sales went to charities, such as saving the ocean and planting trees.

“All the cups had paper in them, there was no plastic in them, including the confetti, it was all paper – including wristbands.”

Chris Martin in Cardiff

The band’s messages were diminish, reinvent, restore

She added that Coldplay’s sustainability message was important and made a real difference.

Samantha Thomas is a senior cleaner for Cardiff City Council and her job is to make sure Cardiff’s streets are clean during and after events.

She has a team of eight people who clean up the whole town after a performance as Coldplay and they have a system where they know exactly when to go in and clean up.

Samantha Thomas

Samantha Thomas says the band’s eco-messages increase recycling after big concerts

“There are two different ways we do it, so we work closely with the Highways Department to make sure the teams can come in when the streets are clear.

“So tonight [Tuesday] the headlining will start around 9pm so we know most people will be at the stadium around 8pm so the teams are ready to go as soon as highways tell us the roads are clear enough to operate and we work alone within the road closures.”

She said the teams then go in and do a full clean-up, empty the bins and take out all the trash so that when people come out of the concert everything is relatively clean.

“Once the event is over and everyone has left, another team will come back at 11 p.m. and do another full clean, and they’ll be done around three or four in the morning.”

Ms Thomas said this team operated from the outside in so they would work on the outer city and move on to the pedestrianized shopping areas such as Queen Street and the Hayes.

Finally, they clean up Caroline Street – also known as Chippy Lane – where many of Cardiff’s takeaways are located and which is often more littered with litter.

Street sweeper in Cardiff

There is a team cleaning the town centre, with the first shift starting at 8pm and the late shift ending at approximately 3am depending on the event

How do
you remove all traces of a performance from the city?

“We look at the dynamics, we look at the genre of music or the sporting event,” Ms Thomas said.

“We look at the number of people, the capacity, so we know exactly what resources we need to make sure we can clean the city for the next day.”

Ms Thomas added that if it’s a sold out rugby event, like the Six Nations, they are aware that people will be drinking or hanging out on the street and in the stadium, so each event is judged differently.

“You need to be more aware of the people and make sure we clean up around and in the areas that will be more populated when the gig is over.”

How was Coldplay’s performance?

Ms Thomas said she was quite shocked when she came in to do her checks.

“I was surprised how clean it was. Incredibly, compared to more recent events we’ve had in the city, it’s very clean.

“It was a lovely atmosphere and not so dirty, which is nice for the teams.”

How much waste does such an event generate and what happens to it?

“We would be looking at around three to four tons, but that’s end to end,” Ms Thomas said.

She added that what happens to the waste depends on where it comes from.

If it’s street sweeping, it’s contaminated, so it goes to a waste transfer station and is sent to Viridor for incineration.

This means that waste is burned at very high temperatures, producing two by-products: bottom ash – materials that do not burn – and fly ash – residue that is collected through the air purification technology.

Both by-products are recycled with no waste going to landfill.

The industrial waste is separated and then recycled.

Rubbish in Cardiff city centre

The council said the cleaning is not paid for from the council tax as it is part of an internally agreed budget

What does the team expect for Harry Styles?

“Well, like I said, the audience and music genres for each performance are different, so we think the next one will be very different.”

So the three principles that Coldplay are guided by on this tour of reduce, reinvent and restore can be seen all over the city of Cardiff, with their fans appearing to be just as environmentally friendly as the band, but will other artists follow suit?

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