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Music Festival Waste Management.

Andy Robertson

This topic will get raised with increasing importance as music festivals start opening up again and will continue to be one of the biggest challenges for music festival organisers. Despite the global lockdown of live events since early 2020 the interest and media attention regarding environmental sustainability has increased rapidly.


The days are long gone when music festival organisers simply ploughed all their leftover waste into landfill. They now need to comply with multiple directives from environment agencies and other bodies and it’s now got a lot more complex. The requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report post event has become an essential part of organisers publicising their sustainability credentials. Irrespective of the media hype and meticulous planning and reporting what is the realistic procedure post event?  

Once festival-goers and vendors have departed and contractors start dismantling equipment organisers are often faced with fields of discarded waste. Organising and planning the clean-up in a meticulous way is key to efficient and measurable disposal. The first step is organising staff and volunteer resources in numerous teams each with specific responsibilities. The key to effective disposal is the ability to sort waste into pre-determined categories and typically this may include the following:         

  •  Plastics
  • Glass
  • Textiles
  • Food waste
  • Paper and cardboard packaging
  • Tents 

Organisers will have to commission contractors to supply suitable storage and transit containers to deal with each category. An informed party should decide what can be recycled and what must unfortunately have to go to landfill or be incinerated. From the categories listed above most can be recycled at a cost, however, it is likely that food waste will need to be incinerated. Luckily for festival organisers there are specific organisations that can handle tent waste. There are some categories of waste that require specialist contractors to handle disposal and include clinical or hazardous waste and sewage (black water). Any contractors tasked with removing any waste post event should provide feedback reports on the type of materials removed form site along with the weight or quantity and what has been recycled and what has been incinerated or sent to landfill. These results form part of the festival's post event report on their waste management. 

A key element in manging music festival site waste post event is the communication given to festival-goers and vendors pre-event along with constant reminders throughout the duration of the festival to minimise waste and ensure it is either taken home or disposed of appropriately on-site. It can be of great assistance to the post event clean up if contractors tasked with removing waste provide containers and facilities for pre-sorting waste during an event. Most people are now familiar with their social duty to dispose of their waste in a responsible manner.  

For any event organiser planning their festival using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their festival logistics including waste management. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors guestlists and ticketing. 

Image by SatyaPrem from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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