Rijkswaterstaat helps festivals reduce waste

Have you been to a festival this summer? If so, there is every chance that you will have seen a sea of discarded and trampled on plastic beakers. Together with colleagues from the Waste and Materials department, Emile Bruls is working with various festival organisers to reduce and recycle large quantities of waste at festivals. Rijkswaterstaat is a knowledge institute in the field of waste.

Last year, the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment signed a Green Deal with a number of large festival organisers to reduce the amount of waste per visitor, to separate it and to recycle more. The Green Deal Waste-Free Festivals forms part of the ambition of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment to halve the amount of waste in the services sector. Rijkswaterstaat is involved in this project as the implementing body of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

Zwarte Cross, Mysteryland, Extrema Outdoor, Into The Great Wide Open (1-4 September) and others have joined forces. "We helped to formulate objectives and write an action plan. The festival organisers take care of the implementation themselves but we also provide support through supplying knowledge and through assisting with the development of a toolbox."

Achieving objectives

A number of objectives must be achieved in 2018. Half of the waste must be collected separately, the amount of waste above one kilogram per visitor must be reduced by a quarter and there must be less litter in and around the grounds. The festival organisers are using all their resources to achieve this. The Great Wide Open, for example, wants to make compost from organic waste and use it for vegetable gardens on the Dutch island of Vlieland. The festival organisers are also seeking to cooperate with the Green Deal Schone Stranden to keep the beaches on the island clean. Other festival organisers are experimenting with refundable cups and reusable stage scenery. "Refundable hard plastic cups were a huge success on DGTL in Amsterdam. It led to significantly less waste and litter and cleaner festival grounds."

Successful measures

This year, the festival organisers paid particular attention to what was happening in their grounds in order to provide an appropriate solution for next year. "We also want to change the behaviour of visitors. At Zwarte Cross, I saw a man leaning on a garbage bin drinking a beer. He threw the empty cups down on the ground", says Bruls laughing.

Next year will see the start of a toolbox with successful measures that could affect festivals. The toolbox will also be made available to other festivals. Rijkswaterstaat is also looking across the borders. "We are working together with our Belgian colleagues and with the organisers of the Tomorrowland festival. The Belgians have a good approach to reduce and separate waste on campsites. Festival organisers could also do that in the Netherlands."