WASTEFestival Greening Techniques



Here’s what you can do, rated on effort involved:

  • Have recycling as well as composting bins available and clearly marked for all staff and volunteers
  • Ensure photocopiers and printers have the “double-sided” function and the use of this function should be encouraged
  • Give purchasing priority to recyclable and post-consumer recycled products
  • Minimum the use of colour copies and use black and white printing for documents
  • Format any distribution handouts so as to minimize the amount of paper used
  • Re-use products wherever possible – waste paper for note taking, old sheets for painting etc.
  • Recycle all products that are eligible
  • Use the website, e- mail or an app for digital newsletters
  • Compost
  • Offer reusable mugs or water bottles on site at the festival
  • Minimize the use of a registration form or use electronic registration
  • Use recyclable or re-usable name tags for volunteers and staff where possible
  • Encourage food providers to use ceramic dishes or when necessary to provide disposable containers, ensure 
they are biodegradable
  • Develop a waste management policy that encourages waste sorting and recycling
  • Determine the number of participants of the venue prior to printing documents, so as to avoid the surplus printing
  • Have a waste audit completed
  • Set a waste diversion goal to divert waste from landfill
  • Try to phase out all printing and use e-communications and registering and information sharing instead
  • When printing printing is necessary, ensure whenever possible that it can be re-used (don’t have dates,  make sure it is sturdy)
  • Do not sell any disposable water bottles
  • Have a sorted recycling system including construction waste materials. Including: fine paper, cardboard/mixed paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, scrap metal, unused food, printer and toner cartridges, printer and toner cartridges, aerosol cans, batteries, and other e-waste
  • Collect used maps and guides with a drop box strategically located at exits to reuse for other visitors
  • Consider LCD screens for dynamic, onsite information such as a schedule of daily events
  • Set a goal to generate zero waste going to the landfill
  • Ensure no disposable plastics are used on site (water bottles, glasses, bags, etc.)
  • Generate zero hazardous waste
  • Use zero persistent toxic chemical
  • Where port-a-potties are necessary, opt for dry compostable toilets instead

Waste Facts

In 2014 Bonnaroo waste management diverted 67% of all waste from the landfill by weight. This included 3.8 tons of cooking oil collected to be processed into biodiesel, 16.04 tons and cardboard, and 18.42 tons of scrap metal.

Cambridge Folk Festival is targeting zero Landfill. In 2014, they sent just 393kg to landfill which was less than 2% of their total waste. 69% last year was recycled.

Cambridge Folk Festival bars use a system of reusing plastic pint and half pint glasses with a returnable deposit, which has had a major impact on the number of glasses wasted. This system has saved over 40,000 plastic glasses being used and thrown away each year.

Over the years Canada's Largest Ribfest has composted, recycled and diverted more than 250 tonnes of materials resulting in waste diversion rates of over 80% (This also includes items that were brought on-site by visitors).

In 2008 at Mariposa, 17,000 beer cups went to the land fill. Since 2009, that number has been reduced to zero, thanks to the introduction of compostable cups.

Sled Island diverted 61%, a total of 664 kg of waste from city landfill of our waste from landfills in 2012. This equaled 155 kg of food waste and compostable food ware, 240 kg of mixed recycling including paper, plastic, and cardboard, 269 kg of beverage containers.

In 2014, Quebec City Summer Festival recycled 264,258 cans! By serving beer in cans, they have almost entirely eliminated plastic.

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival has been working closely with Recycling Alternative, a locally owned recycling company, to strive towards a zero-waste Festival. This resulted in 24% reduction in waste reaching the landfill following the 2011 Festival.

Boom Festival’s Recycle and Reuse Policy has saved 311 tons of garbage from being sent to the landfill. That corresponds to 801 tons of CO2, which equals emissions of 534 houses of three people, which equals and offset of 20.530 trees during one year.

Rocking the Daisies festival recycled 63% of waste in 2013, and composted 1200kg of organic waste.

In 2014 Splore Festival had a rate of 73% of waste diverted from landfill. Splore continues to work towards becoming a zero waste festival with a goal of 85% diversion for 2015.

Best Practise Case Studies

Recyclable and Biodegrdable

Canada’s Largest Ribfest, Canada

The festival has ensured that the products chosen, such as containers and utensils, meet criteria for recyclability and biodegradability. Here is the list of products that you’ll see at Canada’s Largest Ribfest: Fibre-based Food Containers, Wooden Utensils, Paper Napkins, Corn Starch-based Cups (cold beverages), Fibre-based Cups (hot beverages), Paper Bags. Canada’s Largest Ribfest will provide “Green Bin” (biodegradable) and “Blue Bin” (recycling) containers for the public to use. We will also have several stations where people can take waste to be sorted.

Compostable Everything

Mariposa Folk Festival, Canada

Now, everything the food and beverage vendors at Mariposa serve their food on is 100% compostable. That includes the cups and glasses, bowls, plates, utensils. Of course, all of the food scraps are compostable! You would never know it to look at it or use it, but all of the serving ware at Mariposa is made from 100% renewable resources including wheat and corn starches, sugars and plant oils. This is a major shift away from petroleum products, and these bio-degradable bio-plastics use less energy to produce.

Self Sorting Station

Basscoast Festival, Canada

The main program for the upcoming festival will be a self-sorting station where people are able to sort their garbage and dispose of it appropriately. Basscoast Festival organizers are also planning on tripling their green staff in order to assist with the sorting of waste, and to help keep the area clean over the three-day festival period. This strategy allows the public to witness the amount of waste that is produced over the period of the festival, encouraging them to appropriately recycle their waste, reduce the amount of non-reusable waste, and simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint.

Cups/Cans for Points

Camp Bestival, UK
All beer cups and cans purchased from our bars are worth 10 points each. Collect a load and return them to one of our cup and can return points and you could easily have enough money to buy yourself and your mates a round.

Information App

Ilosaarirock Festival, Finland

The festival schedule is provided as a mobile app instead of paper copies. But when printed copies have to be used, the paper has been awarded the PEFC certificate which proves that the paper comes from sustainably managed forests.

Money Saving Cup

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, United States

In the past the festival provided fans and artists with reusable containers to purchase instead of disposable cups. Seventy-five hundred of them were made available to fans at Bonnaroo, and everyone that bought one got one dollar off every beer they purchased throughout the weekend. The containers were limited edition Bonnaroo refillable stainless steel water bottle with carabineer clip carrier. They could be purchased for only $5 at all concessions stands or at participating vendors.

Reducing Food Festival Waste

Bon Appetite, Ottawa, Canada

Bon Appetite makes an effort to be environmentally conscious. Food samples are served on compostable plates, and all wine samples are served in reusable glasses. There are also multi-purpose waste containers that can receive the recyclable, compostable, and cardboard materials.

24-Hour Greening Stations

10,000 Lakes Festival, United States

At the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Minnesota, attendees are given two plastic bags – a dark one for their trash and a clear one for their recycling. Recycling stations are located in the campgrounds, at the gates, and in the concert area. Attendees are encouraged to keep their trash (especially cigarette butts) and recycled items separated and deposit them at the numerous 24-hour Greening Stations located throughout the venue. Food waste will be composted and used for fertilizer.

Reusable Eco Cup

Pop Montreal, Canada

The festival will be eliminating the use of one-time plastic cups/water bottles and replacing them with reusable eco-cups and stainless steel bottles. A reimbursable deposit of $2 will be implemented into an initial drink purchase. In exchange you will be given a durable Ecocup. We encourage you to reuse this cup for drinks thereafter. At the end of the night, feel free to exchange your cup for $2 back. In exchange, our partners at Ecocup will wash the returned cups and keep them from ending up in the ocean’s arms.

Environmental Choice Program

Winnipeg Folk Festival, Canada

In 1997, the Winnipeg Folk Festival was the first event to be certified by Canada’s Environmental Choice Program. Since then, this festival has taken on different initiative to lessen its impact on the environment. For the past few years, the Winnipeg Folk Festival along with the Edmonton and Vancouver Folk Festivals, have operated a plate program, where washable plates are being reused. Both of these festivals have also have a no Styrofoam policy and use Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) beer cups, which are compostable.

Reducing Packaging

Sled Island, Canada

All vendors at Sled’s main outdoor locations use compostable or recyclable food packaging and food ware: help us prevent waste by putting your throwaways into the appropriate bin. Our Green Team volunteers are on hand to help out if you are unsure. Sled Island prohibits wasteful packaging at the festival, especially plastic water bottles. Instead, why not bring your own reusable bottle—we provide water stations, so you can fill up and stay hydrated.

Cigarette Butt Bins

Camp Bestival, UK

A team from www.no-buts.org.uk will be onsite distributing free Cigarette Butt Bins made from old film canisters and encouraging people to not drop their fag butts on the floor.

Recycle Everything

Cambridge Folk Festival

The festival recycles waste cooking oil at all sites. Each toilet is supplied with a waste paper bin to recycle paper hand towels. The aim is to recycle anything that cannot be used in subsequent festivals. Last year Cambridge Folk Festival recycled stage carpets and the few tents that some people ‘forgot’ to take home through CHYPS (Children and Young Peoples Participation Service) for art projects.

Garbage Bin Reduction

Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Canada

In 2011 the festival reduced the number of garbage cans on the Festival site in hopes of encouraging festival-goers to be mindful of their consumption. Garbage cans were replaced with a new recycling and composting system that now allows guests to recycle paper and plastic, and compost appropriate food products. All cups, stir sticks, eating utensils, and even straws are compostable.


Full Service Waste Stations

Rothbury Festival, United States

The Rothbury Festival strongly encourages attendees to bring their compostable items to one of the many manned compost stations on the grounds. The Rothbury festival has hundreds of manned Waste Reclamation Stations available on-site. These stations accept all compostable food and food service items, as well as any personal items that are biodegradable (like paper). For those items that are not compostable, like bottles and cans, Rothbury provides easy to use full-service recycling.

Volunteer Waste Diversion Plan

Dundas Cactus Festival, Canada

In 2015 the Cactus Festival in Dundas celebrated their 40th anniversary by introducing an ambitious waste diversion program. The program featured four specific waste diversion stations places strategically to encourage all residents to correctly place food waste, compostable and recycling into the correct bin. Eight members of the community were asked to volunteer, and in return got $100 honorarium and a uniform.

Dishwashing Stations

Hillside Festival, Canada

Our Food Vendors serve on sturdy reusable plates. We collect and clean all of the plates, cups and cutlery used throughout the weekend thanks to our amazing crew of Dishwashing Volunteers. On the festival weekend, keep your eyes open for the dish stations outside the Food Pavilion and dish bins, conveniently located along with all recycling and waste containers. You may also bring your dirty dishes to us to wash for you!

Overall Waste Reduction

Bumbershoot Festival, United States

At the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, there are recycling bins throughout the grounds. All Styrofoam has been banned. Non-disposable water bottles are encouraged and the use of free water stations provided. Food vendors recycle all grease and turn it in to biodiesel. All vendors take part in the pre-consumer composting program recycling food scraps into compost. Compost stations are set-up around the festival grounds for fans hoping to reduce their waste. Budweiser recycling bins are available in each beer garden.

Recycling Store

Coachella, United States

The Recycling Store and Bottle Exchange program is about creating a positive experience that lasts beyond the festival. Guests collect bottles, cans, cups that they find on the Coachella grounds, and can then swap them for prizes such as tees, refillable bottles, posters, and ferris wheel tickets.

No Bottled Water

Vancouver Folk Music Festival

In an effort to eliminate the contribution to plastic bottle waste, no bottled water is sold on site over the Festival weekend. The festival encourages all Festival-goers to bring their own water containers or to purchase a refillable water bottle at the Merchandise Tent (for a fun Festival souvenir too!). Water stations are located throughout the Festival for refilling water containers – FREE of charge.

Reusable Cups

Island Vibe, Australia

A reusable cup should be top of your packing list if you plan to stay hydrated and caffeinated while navigating Island Vibe Festival. A handy cup wash station will be located within the heart of the food nexus to keep your cup sanitized and sand free. Lead the revolution with your festival vestibule! Disposable cups, even those that can be composted or recycled, continue the cycle of manufacturing and consumerism. Even clear biodegradable cups, designed to degenerate organically use corn grown often in the US, which is plasticized in China, then shipped to Australia where it is used once and then thrown away.

Shambala Festival, UK

All bars at the festival use 100% re-usable glasses. There is a charge of £1 on the very first glass/drink you have, and then subsequent glasses are exchanged free of charge, or a token can be taken if you don’t want another drink at that moment. The levy is to make sure they come back and are reused! All other types of serve ware (e.g. hot drinks) will be 100% compostable.

Splore, New Zealand

Drink responsibly from your reusable cup known as a Globelet. This wonderful drinking vessel can be used again and again throughout the weekend for all cold drinks to be served into from bars, vendors and water outlets. Pay $2.50 with your first drink. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill as required at water outlets.

Recycling Exchange Initiative

Shambala Festival, UK

The festival has a program called the Recycling Exchange initiative. When festivalgoers buy tickets they will be charged a one off £10 “Recycling Deposit”. At the festival, attendees can then exchange two bags handed to them on entry at the Recycling Exchanges – A green bag for mixed dry recyclables and a clear bag for ‘other waste.  Either the £10 is refunded there, or you can have a festival pack of irresistible stuff worth £25 (while stocks last). Unclaimed deposits will help pay for staffing this recycling exchange, contribute to offsetting the festival’s carbon footprint and to subsidise other environmental initiatives.