Between eco-toilets and Coca-Cola as the main sponsor – how sustainable can the festival be?

Sustainable development at festivals

Between eco-toilets and Coca-Cola as the main sponsor


Fri 09/09/22 | 5:55 | FROM Helena Daehler

Picture: dpa / Joko

Die Ęrzte and Die Toten Hosen play positively on the climate in Berlin, and Lollapalooza even wants to be the first festival with a sustainable development certificate. But how can this work with tens of thousands of visitors? Author: Helena Daehler

When thousands of people travel to the festival, celebrate and consume, it automatically puts a burden on the environment: infrastructure has to be built, a lot of electricity is needed for concerts, and food is transported to the venue. Many festival organizers are now trying to make these processes positive and sustainable, such as at the concerts of Ęrzte or Toten Hosen in Tempelhofer Feld. It is both about offsetting and saving CO2.

Zero CO2 emissions is utopian

Lollapalooza in and around the Olympic Stadium would also like to achieve this. Around 80,000 visitors are expected there at the end of September. Advantage: The location already offers a lot of infrastructure. There is electricity, connection to public transport and sanitary facilities. Nevertheless: “Zero CO2 emissions is unrealistic,” says Hanna Mauksch, responsible for sustainability at Lollapalooza. “It’s more about how we can make the festival efficient, for example with really good local CO2 compensation. In this way, emissions that cannot be saved are offset.

Lollapalooza is the first festival in Germany to pass the ISO 20121 certification process. It is a kind of TÜV for events that measure sustainability and performance. ISO certification was inspired by the London Olympics and not only provides the framework conditions for sustainable development. It also allows for independent verification. Lollapalooza can therefore only provide specific savings figures after assessment.

Many small steps towards sustainable development

However, in order to achieve the SDGs, Lollapalooza defines a large number of measures. For example, for two days, workers only receive vegetarian food. A “green area” has been built on the site, where everything revolves around sustainable development and a vegan lifestyle. Visitors can take their own bottle of water with them and refill it in several drinkers for free.

Not eating meat is a focal point when it comes to sustainability, says Paolo-Daniele Murgia, who supports festivals in implementing climate-positive measures. “Not having meat for the weekend has to be an option. It has a big impact on emissions, sometimes up to 30 or 40 percent. ” However, the organizers of Lollapalooza do not want to offer only meatless food this year. Changes should be introduced gradually. In the coming year, the goal is to further expand the vegan assortment.

Coca-Cola sponsor but sustainable development

However, suppliers and other companies involved also play a role in the certification process. It is quite possible that the organizers of Lollapalloozy will have to answer questions during the certification process for cooperation with Coca-Cola, one of the main sponsors. Especially since the producer of beverages is the company that produced the most plastic waste in the world in 2021.

In fact, Jana Posth, project manager of Lollapalooza, is convinced: People going to festivals to have fun and celebrate isn’t ruled out by the idea of ​​sustainable development. Ideally, a festival is a place where people get inspired: “We don’t want to walk around, point our fingers and lecture everyone. We want to point out that there are certain areas where you can make a difference yourself to become a more sustainable Life ”.

More innovative ideas required

Big events can save CO2 in many places – and there is still much to be done, says Paolo-Daniele Murgia. Innovative ideas are in demand: “Tent rental, small on-site supermarkets, reusable cups or the option to bring your own cups.” This is especially true for overnight festivals.

Incidentally, Murgia also advises the Root Festival in Niedergörsdorf in Brandenburg on sustainability issues. Because not only for many important events, the arrival of visitors is the factor by which a large proportion of the CO2 consumption is determined, but also for smaller festivals such as the Roots Festival with almost 10,000 visitors. Although the ticket price includes transportation from the nearest train station to the destination, many still travel by car. The trains are often full and changing trains with luggage is difficult: “Every year we ask Deutsche Bahn if there can be additional trains. But the answer we get is that we are too small, ”says Joana Steinbach, responsible for the event planning.

The Root Festival saves 50,000 disposable cups

The root festival seeks to implement sustainability in all areas. In addition to the eco-toilet, where the faeces go into natural materials such as sawdust, there was also a “women’s urinal” on the festival grounds, which runs without flushing.

By introducing a reusable system, the Root Festival was able to save 50,000 disposable cups this year, equivalent to half a ton of plastic. However, there is still a lot of rubbish. “We were able to separate the garbage relatively well during the event. We just want to be stricter when setting up in the future. ”

However, what happens later with the segregated waste is not transparent enough – and it annoys Joana Steinbach: “The disposal company tells us that the waste will be recycled once it is collected, but we can’t check if that really happens!” The CO2 balance and thus the control of suppliers and disposal companies would be too costly for a small festival in Niedergörsdorf.

Broadcast: evening program rbb24, September 9, 2022, 19:30

Helena Daehler’s contribution


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