Festivals are a lot of fun, but they do have a dark side: they use large amounts of energy and produce mountains of waste. But some festivals now try to become more sustainable. Over 60 UK festivals are working on reducing their environmental impact, aiming at a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Famous Glastonbury festival has an extensive green policy with the motto “leave no trace”, already achieving a recycling rate of 54% of their waste. In 2015, eight Dutch festivals signed a “waste free festival pact”, working together to reduce waste and increase recycling. Danish Roskilde festival has an extensive sustainability strategy to tackle various issues like waste, energy, and social sustainability until 2019. And Amsterdam’s DGTL festival has the goal to be the first circular festival in 2020.
Festivals are all about creativity, and they prove to be great at finding creative solutions to become more sustainable, as well. They produce and use renewable energy for solar-powered stages or power a whole festival with green energy. Waste management is improved through the use of re-usable plates and cups, collection and recycling of disposable cups and composting of organic waste and compostable cutlery. Even more innovative is the re-use of urine for fertilizer production. Some festivals stimulate their visitors to make their behaviour more sustainable, for example by travelling with public transport, taking their tents back home or eating only vegetarian food.
One of the trends are bio-based products, that now find their way onto festival grounds. For example, bio-based catering products are used at Dutch festivals Lowlands’ and Op de T, where drinks are served in bioplastic cups that are collected and recycled, and ‘Glastonbury’ no longer allows plastic plates and cutlery, choosing instead for FSC-wood and cardboard. Next to catering, a great contributor to the massive amounts of waste produced by festivals are tents. It is estimated that between one in five tents are left behind on festival grounds. Bio-based tents intended for one-time use could help by providing plastic-free alternatives. Tents now appearing on festivals around the globe are made from recyclable cardboard or compostable bio-based plastic. Another initiative is the introduction of 100% bio-based, compostable coins as currency for festivals, replacing often-used plastic coins.
And who knows, maybe we will come across even more bio-based products at festivals in the future? For example, there are edible cocktail glasses made from seaweed, plates made from palmleaves, and even records made from bio-plastic instead of vinyl!