Record-low waste levels for FKP Scorpio festivals
Over the 2019 festival season, German promoter FKP Scorpio reduced plastic waste across its festivals, as part of ongoing sustainability plans.
Attendees of Hurricane 2019 generated 4.5 kilograms of waste per person, the lowest amount on record. Around one third of this waste can currently be recycled, with plans to increase this amount over the coming years.
The waste reduction is the result of the “Green Rocks” programme, launched in 2013 to improve cleanliness and sustainability at Hurricane and Southside, and to ensure FKP Scorpio communicates effectively around issues of sustainability.
New regulations include a ban on single-use plastics for vendors, sponsors and caterers, as well as a multi-platform online campaign encouraging festivalgoers to renounce plastic products and bring reusable alternatives.
Attendees of Hurricane 2019 generated 4.5 kilograms of waste per person, the lowest amount on record
Backstage, plastic bottle usage was reduced by 70%, following the introduction of reusable alternatives and water stations.
To make clean-up operations more efficient, maintenance teams mounted a two-metre wide magnet on the front of tractors to clear the ground of all magnetic waste such as cans, tent pegs and hairpins.
The introduction of recycling collection sacks, which could be handed in at stations around the festival site, allowed for more efficient and effective sorting of waste.
Performers at the 2019 festivals included Foo Fighters, Mumford and Sons, the Cure and Tame Impala.
Hurricane and Southside return on 19 to 21 June 2020. The twin festivals recorded their best-ever presale for their 2020 events, selling 40,000 tickets in two days.
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Green Nation: LN venues and events go greener
Live Nation has announced that its global sustainability coalition, Green Nation, is committing to new environmental goals for all its owned and operated venues, clubs, theatres and festivals.
In a new charter published today, the live entertainment behemoth pledges to reduce negative environmental impacts associated with live events. Live Nation events and venues will pilot a range of programmes, establishing the most effective methods and implementing best practice on a global scale.
Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) will be cut by 50% overall across Live Nation’s venues and live events in just over a decade. The company will measure GHG emissions at every venue and event, enabling the establishment of annual reduction targets for each.
Single-use plastics will be phased out by 2021 “at the latest”, as reusable, renewable, certified compostable or at least 30% recycled products will replace single-use items. Plant-based water bottles will be trialled at Live Nation festivals and venues across Europe this year.
General waste reduction goals include ensuring all Live Nation offices, venues and events are zero waste to landfill and have a 50% or higher material recovery rate by 2030.
Another Green Nation aim is for all venues, offices and live events to run on 100% renewable energy over the coming years. All Live Nation buildings and events will operate to certified energy and efficiency standards, as the company increases the share of energy from renewable sources and invests in energy efficiency measures.
The promoter and venue operator will spread its sustainability goals, working with its many partners and sponsors around the world.
“The adverse effects of climate change are undeniable and we want to use our place on the world stage to be part of the solution”
“Hosting over 35,000 concerts and festivals each year, Live Nation has the opportunity and responsibility to provide our artists and fans with a live music experience that protects our planet,” says Live Nation president and chief executive Michael Rapino.
“The adverse effects of climate change are undeniable and we want to use our place on the world stage to be part of the solution. Together our concerts, venues, festivals and offices around the world are setting new sustainability standards for live events.”
Green Nation’s executive board consists of Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn, Live Nation Venues – US Concerts president Tom See and C3 Presents co-founder Charlie Walker, who will lead these initiatives along with support from regional sustainability managers and teams at the local venue and event level.
The new charter builds on Live Nation’s existing environmental efforts, which include its “Sustainability Rocks” recycling programme, the introduction of climate-friendly plant-based food option, the elimination of plastic straws across all US venues, the installation of free water refill stations to reduce single-use bottle waste, and more.
“As the world’s leader in live entertainment, we have a responsibility to preserve the live music experience for generations to come and a tremendous opportunity to use our platform to inspire global environmental action,” reads Live Nation’s position on climate change.
“We will work to reduce the environmental impact of our venues and festivals to ensure we are being responsible global citizens, taking care of the communities where we operate, and doing our part to curb the most harmful impacts of global climate change.”
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Danish festivals go single-use plastic free with Tuborg
Northside, Tinderbox, Roskilde and Green festivals are tackling plastic waste in collaboration with Danish brewery Tuborg, introducing new, reusable plastic glasses to the events.
Each year, the four festivals dispose of over two million plastic bar cups. This year Northside (33,000-cap.), Tinderbox (55,000-cap.), Roskilde (85,000-cap.) and touring concert Green (20,000-cap.) will only provide sustainable, reusable plastic cups, developed in cooperation with Tuborg.
The new glasses are made from polypropylene and can be washed onsite in Tuborg’s mobile dishwasher until worn down. It is expected that the glasses will endure 25 uses before sending the material back to the supplier for recycling.
At Roskilde, festivalgoers will pay a one-off charge of 5 DKK (US$0.8) for a cup, receiving 1 DKK ($0.2) back upon return. The rest of the cost goes towards paying for the washable recycling system.
The initiative was developed in conjunction with Danish environmental organisation Plastic Change, which has acted as an advisor to Tuborg throughout the project.
“This year, Tuborg is literally making life a little greener at festivals”
“This year, Tuborg is literally making life a little greener at festivals,” says Christian Sveigaard, marketing and sponsorship manager for Tuborg. “It’s a great day for Tuborg and a giant step towards reducing unnecessary plastic waste through a more circular business model.”
“The project is an important victory in the fight against unnecessary disposable plastic,” comments Henrik Beha, founder of Plastic Change. “It will also change the use-and-throw-away culture, which is one of the core challenges of the growing plastic waste. We see it as a big step forward that will undoubtedly inspire others to go in the same direction.”
Peter Woods of Down the Drain Group, the promoter for Northside and Tinderbox, says the festivals are expected to lead the way with environmentally friendly initiatives, given the audience they attract.
“I am particularly proud that we as an industry can stand together and take shared responsibility, when it really counts,” says Woods.
The introduction of recyclable plastic cups follows a string of eco-friendly festival initiatives around the world this year, including the single-use plastics ban at Glastonbury and ID&C’s new green wristbands, made from recycled plastic and bamboo.
Tent waste: A single-use plastics problem
Question: How long does it take for a tent sent to landfill to decompose?
Answer: It’s estimated that it will take between 1,000 and 10,000 years, although landfill archaeologists (yes, they exist) haven’t been around long enough to check.
Yet again in 2018 we were confronted with the aftermath of festival camping, with image after image of campsite waste, mainly tents, appearing in the press. The “teenage wasteland” of our times. But in fact, waste is a problem that besets many different types of event. Just watching the clear up after Notting Hill Carnival with over 60 tons of waste left behind confirms that waste is a problem not just restricted to festivals. But what is a problem unique to festivals and one that we are all too familiar with is that of single-use tent waste.
Why? Reasons and myths
Reasons for tent waste are variously given as: lazy punters who couldn’t care less; campers too hungover to dismantle pop-up tents; the weather: it’s wet, it’s muddy and many just want to get home after the party; simple economics: a festival tent, chairs and table cost around £40 in the UK and hold little value so why bother to take home something that’s probably broken and that you’re going to get rid of anyway; marketing: the “festival tent” has come to imply disposability; and of course, peer influence: because “everyone else leaves stuff behind.”
We’ve also seen the rise of the “it’s OK to leave your tent as they all go to charity” myth. It started with the best of intentions – a couple of festivals teamed up with charities in a genuine attempt to put leftover tents to good use. Suddenly it became the morally right thing to do and resulted in even more tents being left behind. Those charities are only able to salvage one in ten at best, partly because many are in no fit state for reuse and partly because they don’t have the storage capability to hold many before redistribution. As a result, many festivals now tell their audiences not to leave their tents as they don’t go to charity.
Scale of the problem
This summer it was estimated that around 20% of tents (one in five) had been left at a major camping festival of 60,000–70,000 campers. If the 2018 figures are accurate this would mean that around 14,000 tents were left at a single large festival. Scale this up across the UK and Europe, and we are potentially looking at hundreds of thousands of discarded tents all adding to the plastic pollution problem.
In 2016, it was estimated that it cost Glastonbury £780,000 to dispose of all the rubbish after the festival, the vast majority coming from the campsite
It’s rather ironic that in 2018, when David Attenborough and the so-called Blue Planet effect drew attention to a global plastic-waste emergency, inspiring the national conscience to wage war on single-use plastics, that the single-use plastic tent somehow slipped the net.
And, of course, there is a financial element to all of this. In 2016, it was estimated that it cost Glastonbury £780,000 to dispose of all the rubbish after the festival, the vast majority coming from the campsite.
So, what can be done in 2019?
The development of compostable tent materials. There are currently several forms on the market. This may work as a short-term solution, but the term “compostable tent” tends to perpetuate the idea of single-use and disposability when we need to move towards reuse.
Glamping is likely to continue to grow with pre-erected tents eliminating a proportion of tent waste.
Schemes that have been successful are those that focus on green camping and behaviour change, such as Love Your Tent and Respect schemes at the Isle of Wight Festival, Eco-Camp at Download and Clean Out Loud at Roskilde. In each case, creating clean campsites and no tent waste. It is only surprising that this approach hasn’t gathered more momentum.
It’s my belief that festival organisers with tent-waste problems need to take a serious look at long-term strategies to change festival camping behaviour. Festivals need to introduce green camping as an option and those that already do should focus on expanding their green campsites. Green camping can incorporate much of what the festival audience is looking for in terms of a great camping experience in return for a commitment to change their behaviour.
I started with the question “How long does it take for a tent sent to landfill to decompose? This is the wrong question.
It should be: “How long will it take for festival campsites to become tent-waste free?”
Eco-friendly event wristbands “big hit with fans”
UK-based provider of wristbands and lanyards, ID&C, has launched eco-friendly festival wristbands made from recycled plastic water bottles, in response to increasing demand from customers.
ID&C‘s new range of wristbands and lanyards is made from a recycled polyethylene fabric, produced from recycled plastic bottles. The eco bands come with duplicate print on both sides and a bamboo barrel lock, which is made from 50% less plastic than standard barrel locks.
As with standard event wristbands, for security reasons the recycled wristbands cannot be removed once the lock is fastened to the wrist.
According to industry estimates, roughly 23,000 tons of waste is produced at UK music festivals each year, but only a third is recycled. Festival organisers are now making increasing efforts to reduce the amount of waste produced at their events.
Plastic drinks bottles will not be on sale at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, with festivalgoers encouraged to bring reusable water bottles. The festival had already phased out plastic cutlery and plates, as well as single-use plastic cups and plastic straws.
“It is a tough challenge as our products have to be strong and secure, but we are always developing new ideas with the aim to provide a full range of alternative greener products”
An Association of Independent Festivals initiative has seen 61 festivals commit to making their events free of single-use plastic by 2021.
“Reducing the levels of plastic used across festivals and events is an ongoing challenge for any event organiser and we want to contribute to lowering the impact where we can,” says Matt Wilkey, company director and co-owner of ID&C.
“We have been continually exploring ways to become a more eco-friendly company. It is a tough challenge as our products have to be strong and secure, but we are always developing new ideas with the aim to provide a full range of alternative greener products,” adds Wilkey.
“Our ongoing initiative is to develop a range of products that are not only recycled but are also fully recyclable,” explains the ID&C director.
ID&C ensures all products are professionally tested to verify the strength of materials and their eco-friendly status.
No more plastic bottles at Glastonbury
Single-use plastic drinks bottles will not be available at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, with organisers encouraging festivalgoers to bring reusable bottles to refill at free water taps, WaterAid kiosks and from bars across the festival site.
1.3 million plastic bottles were used at Glastonbury Festival in 2017. The Greenpeace-partnered festival has now announced that plastic bottles will not be available to purchase at this year’s festival and will not be supplied backstage, in the production, catering or dressing room areas.
Greenpeace estimates that up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year. The environmental NGO advises that the best way to avoid plastic pollution is to reduce plastic usage.
Festival organisers urge visitors to bring reusable bottles, stating that the number of WaterAid kiosks dispensing water around the festival site has tripled. Free drinking water will be available from all bars across the site.
Traders who previously sold soft drinks in plastic bottles will now stock canned soft drinks and Life Water, available for purchase.
“It’s paramount for our planet that we all reduce our plastic consumption, and I’m thrilled that, together, we’ll be able to prevent over a million single-use plastic bottles from being used at this year’s festival,” says Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis.
“I really hope that everyone – from ticket-holder to headliner – will leave Worthy Farm this year knowing that even small, everyday changes can make a real difference”
“I really hope that everyone – from ticket-holder to headliner – will leave Worthy Farm this year knowing that even small, everyday changes can make a real difference.”
The festival has already phased out plastic cutlery and plates from food traders, as well as single-use plastic cups and plastic straws.
Single-use plastics and reusables have been a hot topic of conversation within the music industry over the past year and will be discussed in detail at this year’s Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI).
The Plastic-Free Festival Guide, launched at last year’s GEI, has sparked many festivals to take a look at their festival consumption.
Last year, festival operators across the corporate and independent circuits committed to a ban on plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds at their events. Festival Republic, Global/ Broadwick Live and AEG/ Goldenvoice banned plastic straws across all their 2018 summer festivals. The move followed the elimination of plastic straws at Live Nation/MAMA events.
In the independent sector, 60+ signatories of the Association of Independent Festivals’ (AIF) ‘Drastic on Plastic’ campaign pledged “to eliminate single-use plastics at our event(s) within 3 years by 2021, and to promote reuse solutions wherever practically possible.”
The 11th edition of GEI, in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), will take place on Tuesday 5 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in London.
NZ’s Spark Arena rolls out zero-waste strategy
Auckland’s Spark Arena has switched to 100% compostable serveware for public events, replacing all single-use cups and hot food packaging with compostable plant-based alternatives.
The switch, which forms part of the 12,000-capacity venue’s new ‘zero-waste strategy’, will see all compostable waste, which now includes cups, lids, straws, cutlery, napkins, food containers and food waste, delivered directly to local composting plant Envirofert, where it will be turned into compost.
Spark Arena hosts more than 500,000 eventgoers, using over a million disposable cups, annually, and arena design strategist Judith Clumpas explains that when the lights go up at the end of the show, the mixture of rubbish left over has proved “almost impossible” to sort through.
This cross-contamination of recyclable material, combined with the ongoing recycling crisis in New Zealand, means it “made absolute sense to make a change,” says Clumpas. “If you could see the volume of mess that is left after a concert, you would be truly horrified to realise just how much ends up in landfill.”
“It’s a great start, and I’m looking forward to seeing a positive shift across the events industry in the years ahead”
“Designing a robust new system for waste management at Spark Arena has included sourcing ethical products from reputable local suppliers Innocent Packaging and Ecoware, creating bespoke bins with Method to promote behavioural change and working closely with environmentally focused companies Green Gorilla and Envirofert to ensure products are disposed of in the right way,” she continues.
The only exceptions are snack packets and lolly and ice-cream wrappers, which are not yet compostable, although arena bosses hope they will be by stage two of the zero-waste programme.
“People come to Spark Arena for a good time, and I see it as our responsibility not only to deliver a great experience, but to go further by doing the right thing as a good host”, says Brendan Hines, the arena’s GM.
“It’s a great start, and I’m looking forward to seeing a positive shift across the events industry in the years ahead,” he continues. “I see more changes ahead, but we are taking it one step at a time, and trying to get it right.”
Spark Arena, known as Vector Arena prior to the start of last year, has been operated by Live Nation since August 2015.
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More US Live Nation venues ditch plastic straws
Live Nation’s House of Blues has become the latest concert business to eliminate plastic drinks straws.
As of July 2018, a straw-by-request-only policy has been implemented at 50 House of Blues Entertainment venues, with straws and other “accessible alternatives” available solely on demand. Live Nation ditched plastic straws at all its 52 US amphitheatres in April.
By partnering with environmental group Lonely Whale, Live Nation says it is on track to eliminate the use of more than six million plastic straws in 2018 by removing them from all its owned and/or operated US venues.
Across the Atlantic, plastic straws are now a thing of the past in, with both independent and major corporate UK operators (including Live Nation) having outlawed them as of this summer in a bid to cut plastic waste.
“Youth must be served”: Diverse, green Coachella draws positive reaction
After a stormy start, the second weekend of the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival received a favourable reaction from the nearly 125,000 people on site, according to local media, with music fans responding positively to bookers’ hip hop-heavy, youth-focused programming.
Promoted by AEG’s Goldenvoice, Coachella – which traditionally marks the beginning of the international festival season – returned to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California for its 19th outing on 13–15 April and 20–22 April, with the Weeknd, Beyoncé and Eminem headlining.
Coachella weekend two got underway on Friday morning (20 April), after revellers were turned away from campsites on Thursday evening owing to intense winds. (Many camped out in the car park of Indio’s Walmart, holding a mini festival of their own,‘Walmart-chella’.)
Coachella has been split into two weekends since 2012, and while there are only minor differences in the music at each (mainly when it comes to special appearances), weekend two is widely regarded as the quieter of the two, with fewer celebrities flaunting their outfits for the ’gram and arguably more ‘real’ music fans, along with an increased number of industry guests.
Headliner Beyoncé largely repeated her performance from the first weekend, once again ‘turning Coachella into Beychella’ with the help of her former Destiny’s Child bandmates, although Japanese rock act X Japan simultaneously gave a strong performance in the Mojave tent, joined by special guest Marilyn Manson.
Temperatures were also higher for Coachella 2018’s second outing, reaching more than 90°F (33°C) compared to the low to mid-80s the previous weekend.
Following AEG UK’s events in banning plastic straws, the festival additionally notable for its ban on single-use plastic straws, phasing them out in favour of paper. “Plastic pollution is a huge problem around the world, and it’s exciting to pioneer change by phasing out the use of single-use plastics from our festivals,” says Mapi Moran, Goldenvoice’s director of festival marketing.
The eclectic line-up drew “an appreciative crowd that looks different from other years”
“Our new straw policy is estimated to eliminate about 300,000 plastic straws from Coachella and Stagecoach. We look forward to announcing similar initiatives later that go beyond just plastic straws.”
According the Desert Sun, Goldenvoice founder Gary Tovar described the audience for Coachella 2018 as a “new generation” of festivalgoers. The “youth must be served”, he said, referencing the urban-focused music line-up – which included fellow headliners Eminem and the Weeknd, along with Post Malone, Vince Staples, Tyler the Creator, Migos (pictured) and Cardi B.
And served the youth were, with the eclectic line-up drawing “an appreciative crowd that looks different from other years”, writes Desert Sun reporter Bruce Ferrier. “It seemed the diverse bands booked by Goldenvoice were attracting diverse audiences.”
“When a singer with Los Angeles Azules proclaimed, ‘We have no wall here’ in Spanish, cheers erupted from the crowd,” he continues.
“Singer Maria Conway of the Marias, dressed in a glittering gown in front of a quintet of guys wearing red suits and white open-collar shirts, mixed English and Spanish-language dream pop-rock in the Sonora tent. She noted there are 167 acts on the Coachella bill and 15 [are] Latino [or] Latino-led. ‘I’m so proud to be part of that,’ she said.”
Goldenvoice has yet to release audience figures from the festival, but CEO Paul Tollett said before the event he expects similar numbers to 2017, when all 250,000 tickets sold out, making it the highest-grossing festival in the world.
Coachella will return for its 20th-anniversary event next April.
Final straw: Major fests join indies in banning plastic straws
The major UK festival operators have told IQ their events will be plastic straw-free this summer, following an announcement by ministers earlier this week Britain is set to ban the sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds in a bid to combat environmental damage.
Festival Republic, Global/Broadwick Live and AEG/Goldenvoice join Mama Festivals and the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) in committing to eliminating plastic drinks straws as of this festival season, as awareness grows of the plastic pollution crisis affecting the world’s oceans. (An island of floating plastic waste in the Pacific ocean – dubbed the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ – is now twice as large as France.)
Live Nation’s Festival Republic, whose UK portfolio includes Download, Wireless, Community, Latitude and Reading/Leeds, yesterday announced a host of new green initiatives across all its UK events, which follow an existing ban on single-use plastic cutlery and containers from its traders, caterers and bars which has been in force since 2009.
Existing partnerships with Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth Ireland remain, while all plastic bottles bought at Festival Republic events are now subject to a refundable deposit designed to encourage recycling. The scheme started with water bottles in 2009 and has expanded to cover all plastic drinks bottles, with Greenpeace volunteers operating bottle deposit return points at the 2018 Download, Community, Wireless, Latitude, RiZe and Reading and Leeds festivals.
In addition, only re-usable straws, such as those made of biodegradable plastic, wood or paper, will be allowed into Festival Republic events as of this year.
“Festivals inspire change in people, so we just need to take the steps collectively”
“Environmental issues have always been a focus for us across all Festival Republic shows,” Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, explains. “Our aim is to not only implement schemes to minimise the use of plastic on site, but to educate our audiences at the same time. Whether that’s through our long-standing ban on single-use plastic across all food traders since 2009, or working in partnership with Greenpeace UK on the introduction of our deposit return scheme for water bottles in 2009 and all bottles in 2016, we’re ensuring that our waste reduction and recycling rates improve year on year.
“Recycling and single use plastics are only a small part of what we do to be more economical and environmentally friendly.”
Broadwick Live parent company Global, the UK’s second-largest festival business, is similarly banning plastic straws from its events, which include Field Day, Standon Calling, Festival №6, Truck Festival, Y Not and Rewind, starting this summer.
“Plastic straws will not be available at any Broadwick Live festivals this summer,” confirms a spokesperson.
Over at AEG – which is gearing up for its first summer as sole tenant of east London’s Victoria Park – meanwhile, leading exec Jim King says the company is striving to minimise the environmental impact of its UK festivals, which include All Points East in Victoria Park and British Summer Time in Hyde Park, as well as a rumoured new event in Knebworth Park.
“Any move towards reducing plastic pollution is to be welcomed and supported”
More than 80 venues, sports teams and festivals globally already track their environmental performance metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water usage, through the company’s corporate sustainability programme, AEG 1Earth.
King, AEG Presents’ executive vice-president of live music, tells IQ: “Clearly, any move towards reducing plastic pollution is to be welcomed and supported.
“AEG works hard to ensure that our events have as minimal an environmental footprint as possible – and, for example, we will no longer be using plastic straws at festivals including British Summer Time Hyde Park and All Points East.”
As a result of all three companies committing to a plastic straw ban, both corporate and independent festivals in the UK are united on minimising the environmental harm caused by single-use plastic.
“There’s loads that festivals can do to design out disposable plastics such adopting reusable cups, banning drinks sales in plastic and encouraging festival goers to bring re-fillable water bottles,” says Chris Johnson, co-founder and operations director of AIF member Shambala Festival. “Festivals inspire change in people, so we just need to take the steps collectively and create the new normal – a better normal.”