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Sustainability Policy Guidance for Festivals.

Andy Robertson

With sustainability and climate change being a hot topic for 2021 it is now more important than ever for festival organisers to have a clear and deliverable sustainability policy. Any policies and statements are important for all potential audiences including festival-goers, sponsors, vendors and suppliers who are now more interested than ever about a festival's sustainability credentials. 


Climate change and sustainability is a fast moving and ever evolving topic so festival organisers need to ensure that they are up to date on the latest standards and guidance. Merely placing a statement in a press release or posting on a festival website and leaving it there will not suffice. Any statements need constant monitoring and updating and festival organisers should ensure that someone in the organisation has responsibility for this.

The BSI (British Standards Institute) issued sustainability guidance for generic events back in 2012 and although those standards still largely apply today there are other organisations that focus specifically on sustainability guidance for festivals and include ‘Powerful Thinking’. A not-for-profit organisation created by festival organisers in the UK to explore ways to reduce the costs and carbon through increased efficiency and alternatives. It aims to provide clear guidance and resources to festival organisers about approaches to sustainable power and to drive a market for renewable energy supply at festivals, understanding and accounting for the business and cost restraints. Any sustainability policies and statements should consider all of the following topics   

Water Management.
Managing the source and use of water supplies for all purposes whether they are used for bathroom facilities or for drinking water for example. Any black water should be disposed of correctly without contaminating the land.

Environmental Damage. 
Avoiding damage to the land and wildlife environments and restoring the land used to the same condition it was in before the festival took place.

Waste Management. 
Avoiding the use of plastics and encouraging the use of reusable materials by vendors and visitors to the site. All visitors should be encouraged to take their waste home and not to leave anything on site, this is particularly true for tents that have been an ongoing issue for several years.

Power Consumption. 
Reducing the carbon footprint of any festival is one of the biggest challenges and organisers should do their best to seek alternative greener power sources including solar and wind. The key issue for most music festivals is the power required to feed audio visual equipment. Most organisers have found that solar and wind power just can’t deliver the ‘juice’ required to power equipment. The traditional diesel generators are gradually changing from diesel to biofuels and hydrogen as their main fuel.

Any statement or policies issued by organisers need to backed up by regular reporting made post-event on the results of their sustainability efforts. Festival-goers, sponsors and suppliers need to see real data on progressive improvement by festival organisers and regular reporting can be used by key decision makers for future events including licensing authorities or potential sponsors. 

For organisers planning their festivals using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. 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, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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