UK festivals get Drastic on Plastic

UK Festivals Get ‘Drastic on Plastic’

AIF launches ‘Drastic On Plastic’ campaign, with over 60 festival websites ‘wrapped in plastic’ on Earth Day, 22ndApril.

Organisers of more than 60 independent festivals across the UK, many of them Vision: 2025 Festivals,  have committed to banning the use of plastic straws on-site this season as a minimum first step – and eliminating all single-use plastic at their events by 2021.

The core message of the campaign is re-use not single-use. From the plastic-wrapped festival homepages, customers will be able to pre-order limited edition ‘Drastic On Plastic’ metal water bottles, immediately taking action to reduce the use of disposable materials

This is the beginning of a firm commitment from the wider festival industry, with positive talks underway with various festival membership organisations in the UK and across Europe, with the aim of engaging hundreds more festivals to commit by the end of 2018.

38.5 million plastic bottles are used in the UK every day and 91% of that plastic is not recyclable. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “It is encouraging and inspiring that so many AIF members have taken this initiative and pledge on-board without hesitation and are taking a collective stand against single-use plastic. This is one of the most critical issues facing our businesses and wider society. By working together as an industry and taking affirmative action, we can make a tangible difference.”

Co-founder of Bestival and AIF Rob da Bank said: “Unless you’ve been living on the moon, you’ll know the plastic problem is not going away. I’m very proud that the organisation we started with five members 10 years ago now boasts over 60 who have all signed up to eradicate single use plastic in the next couple of years. This is exactly the sort of work the AIF needs to be doing – leading the global charge against essentially unnecessary plastic at all our festivals.”

Melinda Watson, founder of RAW, said: “Plastic pollution has been described as ‘the apocalyptic twin of climate change’. We need to take urgent action on this critical issue. Recycling is important, but it is far from the solution. Many of our impacts are embodied in the materials we use. We will build on work we have done with Glastonbury and Shambala,  working with the festival industry to radically change our relationship to our ‘plastic stuff’.”

Chris Johnson, Co-founder and Operations Director of Shambala Festival, and Chair of Powerful Thinking added:“There’s loads that festivals can do to design out disposable plastics such adopting reusable cups, banning drinks sales in plastic and encouraging festival goers to bring re-fillable water bottles. Festivals inspire change in people, so we just need to take the steps collectively and create the new normal – a better normal.”

Festivals can sign the pledge and download resources to help in their commitment at the Association of Independent Festivals website.

Industry Green Survey 2017: The Results

Event Industry Green Survey 2017: The Results

UK Festivals Get Smart with Power and Travel 

A major shift in the way UK festivals approached energy management and Travel Planning in 2017 has been revealed in the annual Festival & Events Industry Green Survey.

The survey, run by Powerful Thinking, showed that the percentage of UK festivals actively working with their power suppliers to increase efficiency and reduce fuel doubled from one in four to half of events between 2016 and 2017. It also shows that the percentage of festivals promoting sustainable travel to their audiences has risen from 28% of events in 2016 to 80% in 2017, a significant change.

Further positive shifts in getting smart with power for the 50 participating UK festivals were: 58% started monitoring generator loads in 2017, 20% said they are using sustainably sourced HVO fuel and 20% are now using hybrid technology to help cut fossil fuel use, costs and associated emissions.

This is the third year that a major shift has been reported by the survey, demonstrating a wider shift in practices and technologies being employed.

However, the survey also found that only around 1 in 3 festivals are receiving a detailed post-event power consumption report. Understanding how power was used is a key tool in planning efficient energy systems for future events, so this is a area that event organisers can prioritise in coming years. Festivals also reported that the most common barrier in using renewable energy at events was finding a supplier of hybrid and solar generators.

Andy Lenthall, General Manager of the Production Services Association (PSA) suggests that festivals are increasingly overcoming these barriers by, “finding a power supplier who can supply a detailed post-event report and who are willing to put in the extra mile to manage energy more efficiently and source alternative energy equipment.”

The survey suggests that inability to find a supplier to help meet their efficiency targets is the most common frustration for organisers aiming to change their practices. Event organisers looking for power suppliers who can help them meet their sustainability goals can use the Powerful Thinking Sustainable Power Supplier List or use the online factsheet on tips for contract writing: Five Tips for Smart Energy Contracts. Organisers can also learn more about sustainable energy practices in the Smart Energy Guide (a free PDF download in English, Dutch, Catalan and French) and from factsheets and case studies on the Powerful Thinking website.

On the subject of travel, a significant shift was seen in the way organisers are working to increase sustainable travel to their events. The percentage of festivals promoting sustainable travel to their audiences has risen from 28% of events in 2016 to 80% in 2017. With audience travel accounting for up to 80% of the average UK music festivals’ CO2 footprint this is a great place to start in tackling environmental impacts. In 2017, 25% of participating festivals offered travel carbon-balancing for their audiences to address travel emissions through the charity Energy Revolution.

Organisers can learn more about this initiative and find advice on how to increase sustainable travel in the Energy Revolution Guide To Sustainable Travel.

Photo credit: Louise Roberts for Shambala Festival

Take the Industry Green Survey 2017

Festival organisers can help Powerful Thinking track industry progress on the journey towards a more sustainable future by filling out the annual Industry Green Survey.


The survey is anonymous and will only take 5 minutes. The results allow the Powerful Thinking Steering Group to understand the challenges festival organisers faced in 2017 and to shape support and resources to move toward more sustainable practices.

Thanks to A Greener Festival all entrants will be entered into a prize draw to win a free delegate pass to The Greener Events & Innovations Conference in March 2018! 

Please complete the survey before 22nd Dec 2017. Winners will be announced in Jan 2018.

Photo credit: Louise Roberts for Shambala festival 

The Power to Choose at The AFO Conference

Energy efficiency took centre stage at the annual AFO conference on the 10-12th November in Stratford-upon-Avon. In a panel focused on power at events, chaired by Andy Lenthall (Production Services Association and Powerful Thinking), Alastair Gregson (Powerline), Barry Hughes (Hybrid Power Hire), and Tim Benson (ZAP Concepts) discussed the changing business landscape and technology.

Andy Lenthall reflected; “We are at a tipping point [as an industry] where, if people are up to speed with the choices they have, we will see efficiencies driven by smarter planning and use of lower emission alternatives. The commercial incentives are now very real.”

To help event organisers make smart choices about their power contracts Powerful Thinking have created a list of suppliers who will work with events towards their energy efficiency goals:


Is pay-per-use the future of trader-energy at festivals?

In 2017, Shambala festival worked with energy expert Sid Rogerson (Entersys) to monitor the power use of 40 concessions onsite, with the intention of using data collected to inform the development of a pay-per-use model for trader energy.

The festival has used the information to establish an average total kWhs for users, to identify concessions using significantly above average energy, and those that are very efficient.

Using overall fuel consumption figures and energy equipment and service costs, they have developed a cost per kWh. Chris Johnson, Operations Director says: “Rather than simplistic fee for the size of feed (16A, 32A etc.) which can have little bearing on actual kWhs used, we will establish a standing charge and tariffs so that lower energy users are charged comparatively less (per kWh) and higher users will find themselves with a cost incentive to consider energy efficiency.”


Energy Revolution Launch Sustainable Travel Guide for Festivals & Events

The Energy Revolution Guide to Sustainable Travel for Festival and Events was launched at the Festival Vision:2025 meeting at the Showman’s Show last month. Energy Revolution is a UK charity that helps festivals turn travel miles into 100% clean energy through investment in renewable energy projects.

With audience travel making up 80% of the average UK festival’s carbon footprint, tackling travel emissions is a key part of any festivals sustainability strategy. The new Sustainable Travel Guide, written by Chris Johnson (Shambala Festival, Powerful Thinking & Energy Revolution), explains the impacts of event-related travel and offers festivals and events practical solutions to start reducing the impacts of audience and supplier travel. The Guide is part of the resources that Energy Revolution offers to festivals and events in calculating, reducing, and balancing CO2e emissions from audiences, suppliers and artists.

Download your copy of The Energy Revolution Sustainable Travel Guide 

Energy Revolution has enabled festival audiences to balance over three million travel miles so far with balancing donations being invested in renewable energy projects in India (wind power and reforestation) and Bristol (solar).

It’s easy and free for festivals to sign up to become a member of Energy Revolution – members receive further resources and guidance on making audience travel more sustainable including use of the Travel Carbon Calculator, help in setting up carbon balancing for their audience travel miles and an annual certificate celebrating the miles and kgCO2e they have balanced.

Contact for information on becoming a member. Check out the website for details on the renewable energy projects and participating festivals, suppliers and artists:

Find a Sustainable Power Supplier

One of Powerful Thinking’s aims is to create a community of festivals and suppliers that works towards common sustainability goals. Finding a power supplier to work with a festival year on year to ensure energy is used efficiently can be key in carrying out a successful environmental strategy.

Powerful Thinking have created a list of power suppliers who have the practical solutions to help festivals meet their sustainability goals. The Sustainable Power Supplier list is a new resource which allows festival organisers to see at a glance what services a power supplier offers: for example what kinds of biofuels they offer, if they can supply solar and LED and hybrid generator solutions. The individual power supplier profiles also offer information about rental fleets, details about energy monitoring, recording and reporting services and the energy management strategies they will employ.

Festivals can find out how and what data the supplier will share with them, if they will data share as part of their contract and if they give advice on future performance savings year on year as part of their service. Power suppliers on the list also describe their own environmental polices.

Find a Sustainable Power Supplier

Powerful Thinking Guide Goes Dutch with Green Events NL

The Powerful Thinking Guide 2017, launched earlier this year, will be translated into Dutch by Green Events Netherlands and hosted on a new database on sustainability for Dutch festival organisers created by Lab Vlieland. The translation will be announced at the ADE Green conference later this month.

The Guide was first published in 2012 and updated this year to provide event professionals with up-to-date knowledge and practical resources to help manage temporary energy smartly, reducing environmental impacts and fuel bills. It is arranged as a collection of modular resources, factsheets and case studies that are also available online. The edition is European in focus, reflecting both the progress being made across Europe on this topic, and the partners involved with the guide’s content.

“Green Events Nederland is very pleased that we could help to increase the accessibility to the Powerful Thinking guide by translating this valuable resource into the Dutch language.” Green Events NL Paul Schurink

Vision:2025 Festivals at the Showman’s Show: Who’s coming?

The  second meeting of Vision:2025 Festivals is hosted at The Showman’s Show on Weds 18th October, in the ‘Hub’ a new space introduced to the show floor, underlining  organiser of the Showman’s Show, Lance Show & Publications Limited, commitment to promoting sustainable best practice.

On the agenda for the meeting is a keynote session from Ben Robinson, director of From the Fields, who will share his experience of engaging the Bluedot Festival audience with their mission values and sustainability goals. A session on industry updates and innovations such as the launch of NCASS’s new trader carbon calculator and re-launch of food waste project 8th Plate, developments in solar lighting, Julie’s Bicycle on their Creative Green Certification and the latest research on using biofuels at events, and how festivals are turning travel emissions into renewable energy with charity Energy Revolution will also be discussed.

In addition, delegates will be able to participate in roundtable discussions with industry experts on key topics for reducing environmental impacts. Read the full programme HERE.

Amongst the 60 festivals expected to attend are representatives from:  Hay Festival, Green Belt, Brainchild, Bristol Harbour Festival, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bestival, Camp Bestival, Always the Sun, Wheels & Fins, The Green Gathering, Towersey Festival, Shambala, T in the Park, Download, Wireless, EDC, V Festival, Creamfields, Electric Picnic, Swingamajig, Starry Skies, Just So Festival, Leeds, Reading, Lambeth Country Show, Bluedot, Kendall Calling, Off the Record, Electric Fields, Live from Jodrell Bank, Eat Festivals, Port Eliot, Fling Festival, 3 Foot People, Elderflower Fields, Redfest and Cambridge Folk Festival. 

Learn more about Festival Vision: 2025 HERE.