Britain’s crowning glory – tons of cheap plastic coronation souvenirs
set to hit landfill
Britain’s disposable society to strike again with single-use party favours
Saturday May 6 th is the big day as King Charles III is crowned at Westminster Abbey, and the party is
expected to last until at least Monday, with one of three bank holidays that month.
And there’s one group of people not looking forward to the aftermath at all – those hardworking
teams from the UK’s waste and recycling companies charged with clearing up after the celebrations.
UK waste collection company Divert.co.uk says the worst part is going to be separating the recyclable
rubbish from the stuff going to landfill and warns there may be record amounts of the latter.
“Every bank holiday brings a spike in waste,” says Divert.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “But we think we
might be up to our necks in plastic waste come the Tuesday after the party.”
“It’ll be like Christmas and Easter rolled into one”
The coronation will be, for most of us, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it is a very good excuse
for everybody to have a good time away from – well – everything else.
The bad news for the British economy is that every bank holiday costs the nation approximately £3.9
billion* in lost productivity.
The good news, however, is that each holiday gives small businesses such as shops, pubs and
restaurants a modest boost to profits of around £250, while people spend approximately £500m on
And suffice to say that as well as the boozing, barbecues and endless coronation quiches, there is
going to be astonishing levels of rubbish to go with it.
“It’s going to be the street party to end all parties,” says Divert.co.uk’s Mark Hall, “and the big problem is
going to be a complete collapse of recycling across households and businesses.
“Nobody thinks about recycling during a celebration, so everything is going to end up in the same bin
bag; and that’s going to end up in landfill. What a waste.”
Christmas produces about 688,000 tonnes of waste but Divert.co.uk thinks the coronation will be, Christmas and Easter rolled into one.
“Rolled into one, put in big plastic sacks, and dumped in a hole in the ground at your town or city’s
landfill facility,” says Hall. “Three-quarters of a million tonnes? Not out of the question in today’s
And that’s before we consider the cheap coronation souvenirs.
All the cheap plastic rubbish you can carry
“All that plastic bunting, those Charles and Camilla face masks, cheap imported crowns, the whole
nine yards,” says Mark Hall. “And the sad fact is that it’s all going to end up in the bin.”
If last year’s Platinum Jubilee is anything to go by, there’ll be no end of trashy souvenirs that won’t
make it past the first car boot sale, or the first charity bag to come through the front door.
There are whole lists of these things on the internet – Queen and Corgi car air fresheners, Platinum
Jubilee leggings, and no end of tat embossed with the unfortunate words “platty joobs” – and it’s
highly doubtful whether much of this rubbish has either survived or been sensibly recycled.
“Thank the stars that ‘corribobs’ hasn’t caught on,” says Hall, “but the fact remains that a lot of
souvenirs and bunting at the cheap end of the market will prove to be a tremendous waste of
As a country, we should be doing better, Divert says.
But with the coronation and its long weekend being an enormous hit of the UK economy, the tens of
thousands of tonnes of extra waste to be dealt with, and the possibility and the horror of the gift of
Charlie and Camilla boxer shorts, is it all worth it?
“Of course it is,” says Mark, “We need the burst of national pride, and we need a party. Get out
there and enjoy yourselves.
“But remember to separate your recyclables, in the name of the King.”
* Based on £2.9bn per bank holiday calculated by the Centre for Economics and Business Research in
2012, adjusted for inflation