A Greener Festival have released details of the environmental efforts of the 42 successful Festivals which took part in the 2012 Greener Festival Awards scheme. The data, analysed by Nicolas Pianet, shows ongoing improvements in many areas of environmental performance, but continuing problems with issues such as left behind tents.
The percentage of festivals that have an environmental policy who take part in the Awards scheme is now 100%, up from 93% in both 2011 and 2010, and of those 82% undertook an environmental impact study, up from 69% the previous year. All of the festivals taking part had a dedicated sustainability co-ordinator, although for many smaller events this is a part time or temporary role.
With travel and transport, 78% of festivals measured the CO2 emitted by public, artists and production transport and 100% publicised and promoted public transport – a further 89% of greenfield (out of town) events promoted lift share and car pooling. A further 54% applied all or a portion of their car parking charges to green issues (down from 63% in 2011).
When tasked with reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, 95% of events have a policy aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, up from 89% in 2011, and 83% percentage of festivals use at least some renewable energy sources, although this was down from 87% in 2011. An impressive 17% of events were wholly powered by sustainable energy sources. 88% of festivals use LED’s and / or energy efficient lighting as a way to minimise their electricity and power use, up from 80% in 2011.
The most commonly employed energy saving practices and equipment are
1. LED lighting
2. “Switch off and save” policies
3. Low energy light bulbs
4. Adequate calibration of generators
5. Signage to inform audience and staff
With waste management, 83% of events banned non-recyclable products and packaging from their site, up from 71% in 2011, and 85% of events composted food waste from caterers, using a bio-digester plant, or other sustainable food waste management methods – up from 75% in 2011. 40% of events used compost toilets, and a number of events said that they would have used these, but were prevented from so doing by restrictions imposed by venues. Wet weather also added to waste management problems in 2012, increasing both the amount and the weight of waste sent to landfill, incineration or other disposal method, and also added to the contamination of recycling streams. The different types of waste recycled at festivals now includes metal cans, glass, plastics, cardboard, paper, cooking oil, solid organic, wood, batteries and construction waste. With compostable waste, many festivals collect this but most is sent to processing plants off site with the resulting compost donated to public spaces or local gardens.
Left behind tents remained an issue, particularly at larger events. 92% of camping festivals had an action plan to deal with or try deter left over items such as tents, with 59% saying left behind tents were a problem. Smaller festivals in the UK and Europe fared better with left behind tents and camping gear, with some reporting no problems at all. Some festivals use local salvage groups and some organizers salvage metals to sell as scrap. Again, 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.
Water management is of growing importance at greenfield sites, with 75% of events saying they promoted water efficiency to audiences and staff (the same as 2011). 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.
87% of festivals had consulted a local environmental agency, local wildlife groups or other environmental protection body to assess the event’s environmental impact and 57% of festivals took strict measures to fully protect their site from land contamination (up from 42% in 2011). 100% of events took measures to minimise noise pollution, and 53% who undertook a biodiversity impact assessment prior to the event and identified high risk areas.
A Greener Festival co-founder Claire O’Neill said “In what was unquestionably a difficult year for many festivals, it is encouraging to see positive trends emerging in many of our applicants sustainable activities. In 2013 and beyond we would like to see more standard measuring and reporting methods across events, and where possible long term planning with suppliers for effective sustainability integration to festivals. We would like to congratulate all of our winners and say keep up the good work!”
The Greener Festival Awards scheme is sponsored by Robertson Taylor, insurance brokers.