The mega mountain of Jubilee waste

19th April 2023

By Mark Hall

Our empty bottles and cans will stretch around the world

As the country goes into full-on celebration mode for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, spare a thought for the people who are going to be clearing up after all those street parties.

One British waste and recycling company has been crunching the numbers, and expects the country to get through enough beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks for the empties to stretch right around the planet.

And according to waste collection company, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with enormous amounts of rubbish and food waste being generated over the long Bank Holiday weekend.

“This is one of the most extraordinary events in this country’s recent history,” says spokesperson Mark Hall, “and it’s right that we forget our troubles for a few days to party hard for the Queen’s jubilee.

“But that means Britain’s rubbish collectors are going to be working as hard as ever to keep the streets clean for the Queen – so try to make our jobs easier if you can!”

Jubilee recycling – by numbers

If the last two major royal events (the marriages of William and Kate, and Harry and Meghan) and the Euro 2020 football finals are anything to go by, then Brits are set to consume record amounts of booze and party food.

During just one football match during last year’s Euro finals (England’s 4-0 win over Ukraine), it’s estimated that 23,000,000 pints of beer were drunk in British homes alone.

To put that in perspective, those 23m pints in tins and bottles laid end-to-end would have reached from London to the North Pole.

And that’s before we factor in the wine drinkers. Retailers estimated some 4,000,000 bottles of bubbly alone were sunk during Harry and Meghan’s wedding, so it’s safe to say that the grand total for all wines would be in the ballpark of 10 million.

Laid end-to-end, those empties would reach from London to Istanbul.

And those estimates were based on events which lasted for single days. With the Jubilee holiday set to last for four days (and subtracting a small proportion for Sunday’s expected rain), Divert expects those levels of waste to be easily beaten.

Then there’s the soft drinks for the millions of kids and non-drinkers who will also be celebrating.

That being the case, we fully expect that Britain’s empties will stretch 40,000 kilometres (24,000 miles), which is the circumference of the world.

“All we ask,” says Divert’s Mark Hall, “Is that you recycle all your empties sensibly. We want this party to be as green as possible.”

Dealing with the Jubilee rubbish mountain

The Jubilee celebration isn’t all about drinking ourselves silly – there’ll also be street parties and picnics and home barbecues marking the Queen’s amazing 70 year reign.

That means there’ll be no end of food waste, food wrappers, and mile upon mile of plastic jubilee flag bunting.

Food wastage is likely to surpass that seen over the average Christmas week, Divert’s Mark Hall fears. That’s over seven million tonnes of food.

“There’s only so much coronation chicken and roast swan you can eat”, he says, “So buy sensibly, and make sure you recycle your waste food sensibly.”

As for more festive waste: One company specialising in party supplies says that they were in danger of running out of Union Flag bunting, plastic table cloths, hats, fancy dress outfits, and other favours.

While – unsurprisingly – there’s not a great deal of official data on the sales of flag bunting and other ephemera, Divert expects that the amount of bunting going into bins next week could easily rival the 40,000 kilometres of empty bottles and cans.

“And the trouble with that it that much of it is single use plastic,” says Mark Hall. “And that means dumping millions of Union Flags in landfill. Hardly the patriotic image that we want to see.”

Why not, then, keep hold of your used bunting and flags for the next big British celebration to come along, Divert suggests.

“There’s the World Cup coming up later this year, and you never know…” says Mark.

queens swan sandwich
Roast swan queen