The first ‘Irish Times’ sustainability survey: festivals

11 Jun 2019

festivbasl

Part 4: All Together Now, Body&Soul and Festival Republic

All Together Now

What are you/your business doing to end single-use plastic?
All Together Now banned plastic bottles, plastic glasses, plastic food packaging and single use coffee cups in our inaugural year. All of our bars and food units used fully compostable food ware. We had 100 per cent compliance and a the full support of all of the vendors.

Have you spoken to your suppliers about sustainability/plastic/excess packaging? If yes, what has been the outcome of those discussions?
Yes. We only used compostable foodware in our food and beverage units. We had onsite wholesalers to supply the traders with the necessary goods. We were pushing an open door and all of our traders were very happy to row in. Our customers appreciated it, too.

Has recycling/reuse improved in your business in recent years – if so, how?
We have always had a policy of reducing waste and with every festival we have taken further steps to implement the necessary changes. It’s something that we believe strongly in and we will continue our drive towards ‘Leave No Trace’.

Apart from what we do on the ground at the festival we also work closely with a waste management company to ensure that our recyclables and our compost are collected on site and handled properly.

Apart from banning plastic bottles and single use coffee cups, another of our big campaigns in 2018, which will continue in 2019, is to reduce campsite waste. We had a very successful year in 2018 and we are confident that this trend will continue in 2019. We do not want to leave the fields we used littered with non recyclable waste.

Are you clear on what is and is not recyclable in terms of plastics?
Yes we are clear in so much as what we are told. We feel there is still room for more information to be given to the consumer in terms of how recyclable their plastic is. Some plastic can be recycled again and some can’t. Consumers aren’t told if their plastic is or isn’t. So with all the good intentions they may be wasting their time putting something in a recycle bin. We are working towards reducing the amount of plastic at the festival overall to eliminate this issue.

Is the public more committed to sustainability recycling? Is so, why do you believe that to be the case?
Yes, I think the public are very aware and very concerned. People are aware that this is now an issue that is staying here and we have to deal with it...fast. The footage of seas of rubbish and plastic is bringing it home that we are polluting our planet in a way that is not sustainable. As they say there, is no Planet B.

What is your business doing to reduce food waste?
We have very little food waste at the festival as all of the traders manage their supplies so as not to waste their profits. It’s easier to quantify on a weekend festival and the traders are all professional units who know how to guestimate the quantities needed. This is not an issue for us.

Are your customers raising issues of sustainability including plastic use. If yes, please give an indication of their concerns?
Yes. Our demographic especially is very concerned. We introduced a refillable and 100 per cent recyclable water carton in the place of plastic bottles and it was received very well. We found this year that the bins were used properly and there was very little rubbish thrown around the festival. People really care and when you provide the proper bins and eliminate plastic glasses and bottles people appreciate that. We don’t think our customers want to have a great weekend at the expense of the environment and they appreciate that we really do care and we will manage the waste of the festival to ensure minimum impact.

What does “sustainability” mean to you/your business?
It means a lot. We are responsible for the aftermath of the festival in terms of waste and it is a big priority for us to leave as little trace as possible. We have to be sustainable to the planet. We cannot add to the literal seas of plastic waste that are polluting our world. We took steps this year and we will take further steps next year until we have reached a place where plastic waste is not part of our festival. We need to be all together in our attitudes and habits when it comes to becoming more sustainable – from ourselves as festival organisers to our attendees.

Body&Soul

What are you/your business doing to end single-use plastic?
Body&Soul has placed sustainability at the heart of the festival since the festival began focusing on minimising the environmental impact of the festival by managing waste, energy, transport and biodiversity. In more recent years we have been focusing on single use plastic, first introduced reusable stainless steel water bottles in 2017, which we sell at the festival for €5 to discourage the sale of bottles of water. Plastic straws were banned at the festival in 2016 – all straws used at our bars are compostable.

We have been working hard to ensure that any single use plastic on site is recycled through effective waste management plans and through a deposit return system on our beer and cocktail glasses. In 2019, we are moving to using reusable cups at all of our bars and to banning the sale of plastic drinks bottles entirely.

Have you spoken to your suppliers about sustainability/plastic/excess packaging? If yes, what has been the outcome of those discussions?
We first implemented a sustainability strategy for the festival in 2014. Since this time, all serveware used by concession units is required to be fully compostable, and single use plastic (sugar / salt / sauce sachets etc) are banned and these conditions are contractual.

We carry out briefing sessions with our traders in advance of the festival and create links between traders and suppliers to make ordering more efficient and therefore reducing costs and packaging.

We also operate a strict policy around sponsor activations and the free gifts they are permitted to gift to our patrons. For example, plastic ponchos are banned on site. We carry out regular trader and sponsor checks throughout the weekend of the festival to ensure they are complying with our festival environmental policies and agreements. We also reward our most sustainable traders with an annual Green Trader Award as a thank you . The outcome of all our discussions and communications has been largely positive, and all of our suppliers are on board with our sustainability plans.

Has recycling/re-use improved in your business in recent years - if so, how?
The waste generated by festivals is staggering. In 2014, we sent 59 tonnes of mixed municipal waste to landfill, and recycled 17 tonnes. In 2018, we have vast made improvements – we recycled 50.46 tonnes and only sent 3.5 tonnes to landfill. But there is plenty more to do.

Campsite waste is the greatest problem – it is truly apocalyptic. We unfortunately live in a disposable nation where there is a societal understanding that it is ok to leave waste behind at a music festival. This is where attitudes really need to change. Therefore we have a dedicated green campsite, the Us&You campsite , where campers pledge in advance of the festival to bring all of their tents and camping gear home. In 2018, one third of the festival camped here, helping to dramatically reduce our campsite waste. This is real sign that our audience are coming on board with our sustainability goals. For the other camping options our plans include provision of more pre-booked camping, better general campsites, with more space and better planning, increased (actively monitored) bins and recycling points, on-the-ground engagement with our sustainability team/Earth Guardians, and a dedicated ‘Monday Morning’ team to assist campers to pack up their belongings and take them home.

We have also invested in our Leave No Trace communications campaign, with large, properly-designed signage, and a consistent message across the site.

Most importantly, we have reduced waste by communicating to our festival-goers to only bring what they need to the festival site – it is an area of outstanding natural beauty and needs to be protected by all who use it. Also, in 2017 and 2018 we implemented a cup return system, to increase recycling rates for the consumables from our bars. The result of this was a massive 29,155 cups returned in 2018, 37 per cent of all cups used at the festival. For 2019, we intend to go plastic-free at our bars and trading units.

Are you clear on what is and is not recyclable in terms of plastics?
Yes, we are very clear on this, and we work very closely with our recycling partner Thorntons to achieve waste separation at source and again in their recycling plant. We work closely together to identify changes in materials and processes to ensure we are compliant. We have very clear signage on our bins and waste collection points across the festival both front of house and back of house that reflects this.

Is the public more committed to sustainability recycling? Is so, why do you believe that to be the case?
Waste is a real issue when it comes to festivals and events. They are temporary by nature and we are disposable nation and that combination presents many challenges. At Body&Soul our approach has always been that we are simply asking our stakeholders to manage their waste in the same way that they do at home, and this is how we plan our waste management systems.

I think in more recent years we have seen a real change in people’s behaviour in terms of recycling at the festival. This is a combination of our own recycling systems, and the audience response to that.

What is your business doing to reduce food waste?
Our waste management practices at the festival have improved over the past number of years, and we now have brown bins at nearly every bin station at the festival, both behind the scenes and in the public arena. This means that all our stakeholders have the opportunity to dispose of food waste correctly. Our traders are also provided with facilities for food waste separation and we regularly check them throughout the event to ensure they are complying with food waste regulations and our own policies.

All of our brown bin waste is sent to Thorntons’ composting centre in Nobber - a facility we have visited – and is composted there for reuse in agriculture. Thus, nothing is wasted. We also balance our food offerings at the festival with the audience, so that all food concession units are successful with their trade, giving rise to accurate ordering and reduced waste.

Are your customers raising issues of sustainability including plastic use. If yes, please give an indication of their concerns?
We tend to take the lead in terms of raising issues regarding sustainability and plastic use but find our customers are more engaged year on year in our social media campaign and on-site around greening the Festival and problem solving issues such as campsite waste.

It was a fan of the festival who suggested we offer free drinking water site wide to reduce plastics on-site and we thought it was a great idea and implemented it in 2015.

What does “sustainability” mean to you/your business?
A recognized truth within Body&Soul as an organization is that sustainable development is the only way forward, both for the organization at large, and individually as globally responsible citizens. The principles of sustainable development are applied to everything that we do – and we recognize that we cannot continue to grow and thrive unless we continue to be holistic in our approach, environmentally sound, economically successful, and continue to invest in the wonderful people we work with. Further, we have discovered that every action we take on our sustainability journey results in not just one, but has multiple benefits across the organization and beyond. The moves we have made, everything we have learned thus far, and our next steps all have a positive impact in many areas across the business. This leads us to believe that the principles are sound and can be adopted whole-heartedly, to help inform everything that we do. Our overarching goal is to continue to be the industry benchmark and leading light for Irish festivals in terms of sustainable festival management.

Festival Republic

What are you/your business doing to end single-use plastic?
Festival Republic has a strong policy on single use food packaging, having banned single-use plastic cutlery and containers from its traders, caterers and bars since 2009. It is focusing on biodegradable plastic and straws this year, only allowing wooden or paper based products into the event.

As part of our ongoing commitment to seek better solutions to single-use plastic packaging at our events, Festival Republic have commissioned Useful Projects to complete a whole life cycle analysis on single-use beverage cups. This evidence based assessment will be used to aid future decision making.

It was shown that reusable cups outweigh the environmental impacts of disposable cups if reused at least three times. Latitude and Download festivals stock re-usable cups in their bars. These cups have a deposit on them to ensure they are returned for reuse at future events or can be kept as souvenirs for reuse at home. The festival specific branded cups are kept to a minimum (no more than 30 per cent of the total cups) to allow for cups to be reused at other events.

A deposit return system was introduced on reusable cups at Download festival last year. An average of one cup per person was kept to be reused at home and the rest are in storage ready to re-use this year. This contributed to an impressive overall reduction in waste of 61 per cent, of which 41 per cent was recycled or composted and 59 per cent went to energy from waste.

Latitude festival continues to use reusable cups, something they’ve been doing since 2007 to eliminate single-use plastic. An average of one cup per person was kept as a souvenir and the rest are in storage ready to re-use next year. This contributed to a reduction in waste by seven tonnes compared to 2016.

We have joined efforts at Electric Picnic Festival to help reduce the impact the festival can have on the environment by sending 150 enthusiastic volunteers around the site to help festival goers recycle in the campsites and running cup and bottle deposit return stations in the arena.

Also, as part of our commitment to increase recycling, all plastic bottles sold at the Co-op campsite supermarket included a refundable deposit added to the price, our campers were able to return the bottles to the reverse vending machine in exchange for a voucher to spend in the on-site stores. The bottles collected at each festival will then go on to be recycled to create bottles for Co-op’s own brand bottled water.

Have you spoken to your suppliers about sustainability/plastic/excess packaging? If yes, what has been the outcome of those discussions?
Festival Republic has a strong policy on single use food packaging, having banned single-use plastic cutlery and containers from its traders, caterers and bars since 2009. We regulate what contractors, particularly food traders bring on site and we encourage our suppliers and sponsors to use minimal packaging.

Has recycling/re-use improved in your business in recent years - if so, how?
Festival Republic has participated in Julie’s Bicycle Creative Green Certification since 2007. In 2017, Latitude, Download, Reading and Leeds were awarded 4 out of 5 stars; an improvement on 1 star for Reading and Leeds and 2 stars for Download. It was the first year that Electric Picnic participated and was awarded 3 out of 5 stars. They have been recognised as showing leadership in the field of environmental sustainability and work with a number of partners on their green initiatives including Julies Bicycle, Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth Ireland.

Are you clear on what is and is not recyclable in terms of plastics?
We run a three-bin system across all areas at all our festivals which are clearly signposted and states what goes in what bin. This means we separate waste into mixed recycling, compostables and general waste. We work very closely with our waste contractor for each show to develop the best solution for each event and make sure we minimise the amount of waste going to landfill. We are pleased to say that in 2017 Download, Latitude, V Festival, Electric Picnic, Proms in the Park and BBC Radio 2 Festival in a Day were all zero waste to landfill events. We also introduce a number of recycling initiatives to actively involve our contractors and audiences.

We encourage festival goers to limit the amount of things they bring to the festival in the first instance. On arrival, all campers receive a camper’s waste kit containing a clear bag for recycling and a biodegradable bag for compostables. For general waste we advise them to use their shopping bags.

Our plan is to continually improve our waste management and involve our audiences aiming to maximise recycling rates and minimise volume of waste to landfill.

We have a fantastic group of Green Messenger volunteers at the festivals who help us to run the recycling initiatives and spread the message across the site with great enthusiasm and passion.

We work with Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Simply Cups, Every Can Counts and Festival Green Machine to help maximise recycling and messaging on site.

What is your business doing to reduce food waste?
We work with local food banks who are invited to salvage any surplus food left behind.

Are your customers raising issues of sustainability including plastic use. If yes, please give an indication of their concerns
We send out an environmental survey each year to give our audience a chance to make suggestions about what green initiatives they would like to see. The Download audience wanted reusable cups at the bars so we implemented a reusable cup system in 2017.

What does “sustainability” mean to you/your business?
Festival Republic endeavours to deliver festivals and events with the least amount of environmental impact as possible. Working through every aspect of the festival, we develop systems across key areas such as energy, waste, water, transport and purchasing.

We have a sustainability team who are employed to work with the Festival Republic team, contractors and suppliers to focus on sustainability issues and develop innovative solutions. We work closely to reduce our impact and implement systems onsite which the audience can participate in, providing the opportunity for encouraging positive behaviour change.

Having the audience participate in our green initiatives may also lead to similar actions in their everyday lives. In fact, much of our audience already acts sustainably at home, and expects the same when attending our festivals and events.

We hope Festival Republic’s focus on sustainable practices will impact the industry through our suppliers, contractors and membership of industry wide coalition Powerful Thinking. We have signed the Festival Vision : 2025 pledge to work together with other festivals to understand, and aim to reduce, our carbon emissions following COP21. Our Sustainability Policy can be found on our website festivalrepublic.com/green.

Source: The Irish Times