Green Events & Innovations – Conference Report

//Green Events & Innovations – Conference Report

Green Events & Innovations – Conference Report

Green Events  2013 004The fifth instalment of Green Events and Innovations Conference has been another great success. Organised by A Greener Festival, Association of Independent Festivals and Bucks New University the GEI welcomed delegates from around the globe at this annual event hosted for the first time at the International Live Music Conference.

The event was streamed live on the internet via Etherlive and Pictureworks, and ID&C  provided passes including QR codes for delegates to scan and download the “event pack” with lots of useful guides and information.

Jacqui Reeves and Rebecca Sarll introduced Fareshare and the incredible work they are doing to divert food from waste along the food supply chain and bring it to feed vulnerable people. Up to half of the edible food in the world is thrown away. Most of this occurs earlier in the supply chain than when it is purchased by the public. Approximately 4 million people in the UK cannot afford to feed themselves properly. Fareshare are now operating a catering service for festivals and can also collect edible food waste from festival caterers minimising the waste tonnage and feeding people in the process! We are hugely supportive of what they do and you can find more information here:

PinkLOVEYOURTENT_logoHolger Jan Schmidt and Rick Storey then presented the excellent work being done by the Love Your Tent Campaign. It is a problem experienced across Europe that audiences are leaving tents and camping equipment behind at festivals as disposable waste. This results in incredible waste of resources and a large expense to the organisers in manpower and waste disposal. The majority of discarded camping equipment at festivals goes to landfill or incinerator.

Love Your Tent was launched by Eco Action Partnership supported by A Greener Festival in 2011. International network Go Group have joined the campaign and together resources such as video and banners for events to help spread the message, and dedicated “Love Your Tent” camping zones for festivals have been developed. LYT has received notable support including from BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 6, DEFRA, AIF and the A Greener Festival. LYT has already led campaigns at Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury and now 25 festivals in 8 countries are participating in 2013. There is a call for more festivals to get on board. This is an international campaign to raise awareness amongst our audiences. You can find more details and get involved at

Nic Howden (Access All Areas) welcomed a panel of expertise, passion, experience and innovation for the Powerful Thinking session, concerning the future of power for events. Chris Johnson gave account of how Shambala have saved 30% in fuel and hence fuel bills by working with suppliers to ensure that demand is closely matched to supply. The Powerful Behind festivals Guide released at the end of 2012 revealed huge inefficiencies in generator use on site, showing that much of the fuel burned was purely making the generators “tick over” due to over stated power requirements. Bill Egan (Aggreko) highlighted the difficulty for power providers when there is fear by clients of falling short of the required power needs. No one wants to be responsible for making the reductions for fear of this happening. The problem is clients opt for what they know has worked before and often want back ups of back ups. All agreed that requiring detailed specification of intended power use on site from all power users is a way to make savings.

Rob Scully of Croissant Neuf Summer Party highlighted the vast improvements and innovations in equipment meaning that the overall power needs of stages can be dramatically reduced. Their event has run on 100% renewable energy since it began 5 years ago. Scully suggested that power budgets should be set by the organisers, and stages have to operate within that budget. Andy Mead is head of the highly acclaimed Firefly Solar who provide solar power to events in the UK and Europe. Mead highlighted that larger shows can first dedicate an area to renewables to and build from there. Nic Howden suggested that a buy in from the major events could have the effect of increasing supply and reducing price. Bill Egan told of how they monitored and charged for power to traders on an event and the result was a clear reduction in energy use. Chris Johnson made reference to a new monitoring system soon to be revealed that will be trialed by 10 UK festivals in 2013.
Audience_GEI_2013 (1)The next panel focused on Waste Management at Events, a topic that could receive a year of discussion but unfortunately we had 1 hour only. Moderated by Claire O’Neill (A Greener Festival / AIF) the session kicked off with an impressive and informative presentation from Marek Gordon, Chair of SITA Trust who were waste contractors to the London 2012 Olympics. The presentation, which details the process in achieving the highly commendable triumph of a zero waste games, can soon be seen here:  The issue of separation at source and difficulties with different audience profiles was discussed. Holger Jan Schmidt (Green Events Europe) highlighted that once the audience are drunk source separation stops working. James Goodall (Y Not Festival / Truck) highlighted that they’ve had to continuously review their waste plan as it is difficult to encourage consistent waste separation. Consultant Ed Cook, who formerly ran Network Recycling with over 15 years waste management experience described their 6 bin coloured system which they find to be the most effective. Cook highlighted that this is resource heavy and in fact will cost the organisers more, and the main driver for this has to be a desire to do the right thing and make the investment. There is an industry standard for colour coding separated from an organisation called Recycle Now. This is not used in all cases. It was not used at the Olympics.

ltflogo(1)Marek Gordon believes that there is a fundamental change in the way that waste contracts work, and that festivals should in fact be making money from their recyclables as they have value. Gordon suggested recycled material has significant financial value. Plastics can be sold for around £250 per tonne. Festivals should consider this in negotiations with waste companies.  The panel discussed Energy from Waste incinerators as an option for waste disposal by festivals. Whilst preferable to landfill, it was considered low down on the waste hierarchy. In mainland Europe some Energy from Waste incinerators have built capacity in excess of demand. The concern is that they are now seeking waste to burn to meet capacity. It was recommended and agreed by all that EfW should be a last resort only before landfill. Reducing waste is the first priority and then recycling. There is no standard for reporting recycling levels in the UK. It is important to ask waste companies the right questions such as the levels actually recycled rather than merely collected. Ed Cook highlighted corruption in some parts of the waste industry and that the reporting methods is an area that needs to be addressed. Waste deposit systems for Audiences were discussed. In Germany it is common to include a sum as part of the ticket, which is refunded when customers hand in a bag of rubbish at the end. A similar idea was piloted at Shambala Festival last year. There was 40% less waste and the audience survey suggested 96% support for the scheme.

Teresa Moore of Bucks New University gave a summary of the Audience Survey completed in 2012 by Bucks and A Greener Festival with support of AIF and Yourope. 2281 responses were gathered from festival goers around Europe.  Waste and Traffic were considered by audiences to be the highest impact of festivals with 87.4% and 81.4% respectively. 90% of audiences believe it is the festival organisers responsibility to minimize the events impact to the environment. However, there has been a significant rise in fans saying they should take personal responsibility for the impact, up from 56% in 2008 to 79.7% in 2012. There was another significant increase in fan’s green awareness with recycling with 86.6% of fans saying they will recycle in 2012 – up from 62% in 2008.Teresa Moore noted that “this represents a significant shift in audience attitudes since the last survey was conducted, and whilst very encouraging, it should be recognised that attitudes do not always translate into changes in behaviour.” That said, 43.1% of fans said that they had changed their behaviour as a result of green initiatives or ideas they had discovered at festivals.

Helen Wright of A Greener Festival explained how the Greener Festival Awards Scheme works, and the broader activities of A Greener Festival. All submissions for the awards in the UK/Europe and US this year need to be received by 30th April 2013.  Wright also highlighted the reforestation scheme that has been launched by A Greener Festival in partnership with Trees for Life. Festivals, supplier and individuals can all contribute at £5 per tree. More details of this, the awards, and the other activities of A Greener Festival can be found here:

Wright also presented key findings from Nicolas Pianet’s aggregated 2012 Greener Festival Awards results. More festivals assessed have environmental policies and measure CO2. 17% of the award winners use 100% renewable energy. 68% of festivals encouraged their audience to bring their own bottle for water or provide refillable bottles that can be refilled onsite. Only 41% now promoted ethically sourced bottled water, with most preferring to avoid bottled water. Bad weather results in more left behind tents, and impacts negatively on salvage rates. Some larger items are re-used in art installations and similar in future years and some are reclaimed by charities, but left behind tents is becoming a major issue. More detailed results and analysis can be found here:

Elina Levula and Salla Koivusalo (Greening Events Project) presented The EcoCompass Event – the Finnish environmental management system, and how Helsinki is implementing the environmental management of events. EcoCompass is a municipality project launched in the Helsinki metropolitan area in 2008, aimed at strengthening environmental management in small and medium-sized companies in the area. Activities are on voluntary basis, and participating companies are offered guidelines and instructions on how to develop eco-efficient operations. The programme is free to use during the project period and the certificate will expire after three years but will need to be updated annually.

Chris Cornish of Oakridge Environmental Services explained the legal framework in which events and water companies need to operate, as well as highlighting the hazards and safety issues surrounding water that need to be monitored. A highly detailed presentation relating to these issues will soon be available to view here: When about uses for rainwater harvesting and water recycling, Cornish highlighted that at present in the UK grey water can only be used for non domestic purposes such as toilet flushing, however if water can be proven to be of safe drinking quality, it’s source is inconsequential. Cornish also highlighted that a risk to integrity of water supply is illegal/unpermitted connections being made by traders along the pipework. Cornish suggested education of the traders, and consideration for water point layout on festival sites is needed to address this risk.

Finally, a very entertaining as well as informative presentation was delivered by Dave Newton (We Got Tickets) and Sam Chapman (PhD at Heriot-Watt University). The audience was not as sharp, as none realised the theme that the Smiths titles had been used to build Newton’s presentation. Chapman completed research in to the CO2 impact of posted paper tickets v print at home v paperless ticket delivery methods. It was found that paperless tickets were 107 times more efficient than posted paper tickets, and 47 times more efficient than print at home methods. More details of the research and methodologies can be found here:

At the end of a long day with a huge amount of information to digest, the delegates and speakers went for a hard earned drink courtesy of the events sponsor Eventbrite. So thank you to them and thank you to everyone who made the event a success once again. With 90 delegates attending at the Royal Garden Hotel and 210 unique views on the stream this was the biggest GEI for us yet! And a big thank you to ID&C for the passes and the ILMC for our new home!

You will soon be able to access the downloads, presentations and footage from the events at To register your interest for the conference in 2014 please contact


By |2016-11-01T15:04:39+00:00March 9th, 2013|AGF Blog|