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This information was adapted from a document produced by Mat Morris for Sound Emissions. 


Festival Scope

Getting the balance right for a festival is critical. How big is the event footprint? How many fans are attending? What sort of ratio of services such as food outlets and toilets will be provided? How much parking space is required? How many stages, etc? Each of these questions comes with its own environmental logistics. As a festival producer or manager, factoring in environmental questions at the planning stage can allow you to avoid substantial impact on water, air and our global climate: 

  • If you are establishing an event, one of the most significant carbon avoidance strategies you can employ is securing a site close to public transport such as a bus or rail line
  • Optimise your site density - find that balance between patron comfort and safety and the physical spread of the site. The larger the site footprint, the more travel, infrastructure energy generation solutions are required (i.e. if you can host a successful event with less stages, this will greatly reduce energy demand requirements)
  • Avoid excessive production and perimeter lighting where feasible
  • Develop policies and procedures for suppliers. For example, prohibit certain materials coming onsite (which may have a high embedded carbon load such as fossil fuel based plastic, i.e. plates, cutlery, cups, etc)
  • Shout it out loud and proud that you give a damn about climate change and you expect people playing, working or attending the festival to do their bit to limit the event's carbon footprint


Transportation Links 

Getting to and from a festival represents the single largest carbon emitting component of any music event. In fact, punter travel emissions can outweigh a festival's internal emissions (lighting, freight, generators, etc) by more than 10:1.

Fans & Ticketing

  • Work with ethical, nonprofit ticketing providers like Humanitix if you can, who put their profits towards sustainable projects, such as literacy programs for young girls
  • Avoid providing too many car parking spaces. Where you have to provide a certain amount of car parking, price it so people will think twice about commuting via private transport
  • Work with local and regional transport authorities to encourage punters to travel by public transport and avoid the use of privately owned vehicles
  • Allocate more of your dedicated car parking to buses rather than cars
  • Provide some form of mass transit for artists and crew to get to and from their accommodation to the festival
  • Avoid operating your event at times when public transport does not operate. Help fans avoid taking their private cars by offering a combined event and public transport ticket or providing and publicising safe cycle parking

Artists & Crew

  • If artists and crew are travelling by road, arrange for the least vehicles (buses and/or cars) to be used
  • Where feasible, hire and use hybrid and/or low emission vehicles for travel
  • Source festival crew locally
  • Provide some form of mass transit for artists and crew to get to and from their accommodation to the festival
  • Where crew are required from further afield, try to coordinate travel so that staff can car pool from the airport or undertake a bus road trip en masse
  • If your festival is not close to public transport, consider providing a crew bus that runs staff to and from the site to the nearest town or city
  • Organise a car pooling system for crew
  • Source production and site equipment (i.e. fencing, toilets, barriers, tents, flooring, etc) from local businesses where possible
  • Where possible minimise the festival area, which will save on the amount of fencing, perimeter lighting and other equipment which has to be transported to site (and where applicable, powered up)

Energy & Vendors

  • Work with production to incorporate energy efficient stage lighting set ups (for example by using ultra energy efficient LED lighting where possible)
  • Minimise the time that staging equipment is left running
  • Use energy efficient lighting around the site and ensure it is switched off during daylight hours
  • If using mobile lighting towers or mobile vehicle messaging boards, only operate when needed and, where possible, run on bio-diesel fuels
  • Minimise the number of cold rooms required for bars and catering where possible (e.g. through smart site layouts that allow resources to be shared between end users) and ensure that cold room doors are kept shut when not in use;
  • For sites that are grid connected, arrange to purchase up to 100% Australian accredited GreenPower (sourced from approved wind, solar and hydro energy generators);
  • For sites that require mobile generators, try to secure generators that can be run on biodiesel
  • Encourage and actively seek suppliers who can provide services to the festival using renewable energy (i.e. solar powered indoor cinemas or mobile phone charging stations)
  • Work with all food vendors, markets and caterers to minimise the energy requirements for their services. In some cases it may be prudent to advise in advance the maximum power draw per vendor, etc


Sponsorship & Merchandise

  • Avoid sponsorship deals that require distribution of their product which is wrapped in non recyclable materials or packaging
  • Include a cleanup clause (with a cost attached) in your agreement so that sponsors will think twice about the types and quantities of products they propose to give away. The more waste they create, the more they should pay
  • Look into sponsorship of environmentally positive programs, like water refilling stations for reusable bottles
  • Avoid entering into sponsorship arrangements with companies that have poor environmental credentials. For example, if they (or part of their supply chain) are responsible for deforestation, do you really want to be associated with them?
  • Investigate the material inputs that go into your merchandise products. Avoid materials that are non recyclable, non biodegradable, fossil fuel based or which have excessive packaging
  • Avoid buying merchandise that has to travel half way round the planet. It is not a good look to tell fans you care about climate change - but by the way, the band or festival t-shirts have travelled 2,500km by air (all 10,000 of them)


Influencing Fans

To influence your fans to avoid environmental impacts you can help raise awareness by:

  • Partnering with not-for-profit environmental organisations for onsite campaigning
  • Providing relevant information about how fans can avoid environmental impacts at the festival (i.e. buy encouraging people to avoid buying heavily packaged products, etc)
  • Publishing relevant web links to government and non-government sites dedicated to tackling environmental issues. There is a wealth of information on the internet and helping direct fans to useful sites can head many punters down the road to becoming energy wise citizens


Offsetting emissions

Carbon offsetting is the process of measuring your greenhouse gas emissions, then compensating for (‘offsetting’) your emissions by investing in projects that reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emitted globally into the atmosphere.

There are lots of carbon offsetting providers out there, but first, consider:

  1. Determine your boundaries - For example, are you going to offset just the venue’s direct emissions, or will you include artists, staff and audience travel as well?
  2. Measure emissions - The offset provider will identify the relevant emissions sources and calculate a comprehensive ‘carbon footprint’ using internationally agreed carbon emissions formulas.
  3. Retire your calculated emissions - The offset provider will then invest in renewable energy generation or bio-sequestration by buying recognised carbon credits

Here are a number of tips you should consider before choosing a carbon offset provider:

  • Only buy offsets from offset retailers who provide detailed information about their products and services, and the projects they use to generate offsets. Projects may be in Australia or overseas. Ask for more information if you need it
  • Choose retailers that explain how your carbon footprint is calculated.
  • Choose offsets that are independently accredited by a recognised scheme or standard such as offsets accredited under the international Gold Standard and Clean Development Mechanism. Offsets accredited by VCS, VER+ and Greenhouse Friendly are also of a very high quality.
  • Choose offsets that change or prevent the underlying activities that create emissions. These are best for combating climate change in the long-term. Such projects include those that improve energy efficiency; increase renewable energy; prevent waste going to landfill; protect existing forests

Finally, you might also like to consider providing audience members with the option of offsetting their travel emissions or average daily emissions associated with travelling to and from your show.