Can Rock Festivals Get Green? Denmark's Roskilde Certainly Tries

Denmark's Roskilde Festival doesn't try to proclaim that rock festivals don't have an impact - instead this year's four days of rock added some new measures to 15 years of attempted greening. 1,580 of the 75,000 audience members helped send 2 million Danish crowns ($375,192) to a sustainable water project in Malawi; the festival put up its own wind turbine and bought green power from Vattenfall to be CO2 neutral in electricity; train-traveled was encouraged with a train station at the camp site and secure bicycle parking. Human-powered energy was also all over, from the Ferris Wheel that requires 5 minutes of biking for admission to the stands of bikes that let you charge your cell phone. To get a chance at a coveted reserved camping spot, festival-goers also had to commit to 3 'green footsteps,' i.e. climate-friendly changes.
Like a large Danish City
With those 65,000 attendees plus this year around another 12,000 who bought day passes, Roskilde Festival is equal to or larger than many mid-sized Danish cities - and generating a terrific amount of waste.

To deal with the concert's footprint, far back in 1994 the festival's organizers studied the effects of Roskilde with an environmental survey, and since then has been trying out lots of different strategies to reduce its footprint. One of the most successful is the deposit/refund system for plastic cups and bottles sold at the beverage stalls. By demanding a deposit - this year you could also redeem your cup or bottle at many roaming bike-based refund centers - Roskilde is able to recollect about 95% of the cups and bottles distributed. Refunds are also given on containers that people bring in.

Roskilde also has a detailed recycling system, sorting not just glass and different types of plastic but also paper and even batteries. Organic food waste is also collected and taken to larger composting sites and to a biogas digester. One big problem in reducing the waste stream is the stuff left behind when party goers and campers finally leave on the last Sunday of the festival. To that end, Roskilde's environmental group has banned bringing in furniture to the festival, as well as set up donation spots for sleeping bags and clothes that are then forwarded on to needy in Denmark and in Belarus.

Transport is the biggest CO2 source
About 80% of the CO2 from the festival is generated from attendees going to and fro. Roskilde encourages people to take the train - and now has its own train stop right near the camping. This year, there's also covered, lit, and watchperson-attended bike parking. The festival's organizers are encouraging workers to also get to the festival by bike, and reduced its car rentals by 10% this year to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

All these great initiatives still seem to pale in comparison to the effects of a four-day concert. The festival uses 200,000 garbage bags, 308,000 coffee cups, and 851,000 napkins. Each attendee generates about 3 kilos of garbage a day. 10 million liters of water are used in the course of Roskilde. And the CO2 emissions? Well, festival organizers aren't yet saying - but the four days 400,000 kwh of energy in the week of festivities, set up, and break down.

Read more about green concerts and festivals at TreeHugger
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Tags: Carbon Footprint | Carbon Neutral | Music

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