Was­te mana­ge­ment inno­va­tion impro­ves recycling at fes­ti­vals

Haurun Jäteauton keräysastiat Qstockissa.

The­re were alto­get­her almost 200 gar­ba­ge and recycling bins in the fes­ti­val area. In the pho­to, Mik­ko Hau­ru, the CEO of Hau­ru. Pho­to: Tai­na Ron­kai­nen

Qstock is the big­gest music fes­ti­val held in Nort­hern Fin­land. During the fes­ti­val wee­kend in 2021, over 16 000 kg of was­te was col­lec­ted into gar­ba­ge bins. By ana­ly­sing the com­po­si­tion of the con­tent in the bins, a lot can be lear­ned in order to rai­se the recycling rate of fes­ti­vals.

The orga­ni­sers of the Qstock fes­ti­val have struggled with the recycling of plas­tic pints and shot glas­ses. The­se single-use cups tend to end up on the ground and get bro­ken under the feet of the fes­ti­val crowd.

The Most Sus­tai­nable Euro­pean Capi­tal of Cul­tu­re pro­ject offers a test plat­form for eco-inno­va­tions at fes­ti­vals. With the help of the pro­ject, Qstock and Hau­ru was­te mana­ge­ment com­pa­ny part­ne­red to pilot an inno­va­tion cal­led Hau­ru Smart Fes­ti­val Was­te Mana­ge­ment Concept.

Hau­ru brought sepa­ra­te recycling bins for plas­tic pints and shot glas­ses, cable ties, bur­nable was­te, card­board was­te and biowas­te to the fes­ti­val area. Each bin had a sen­sor for moni­to­ring the amount of was­te in the bin. The concept also inclu­ded a com­po­si­tion ana­ly­sis of the bins’ con­tents and a car­bon footprint calcu­la­tion of the was­te mana­ge­ment, car­ried out in col­la­bo­ra­tion with Macon con­sul­ting com­pa­ny.

“Such an exten­si­ve ana­ly­sis of was­te com­po­si­tion had not been car­ried out under fes­ti­val con­di­tions in Fin­land befo­re,” rec­kons Mik­ko Aho­kas, the CEO of Macon.

Recycling rate could be bet­ter

During the fes­ti­val, over 16 000 kg of was­te was col­lec­ted into the bins. Howe­ver, only 14 percent of that ended up for recycling.

The bins col­lec­ted over 14 000 kg of bur­nable was­te, about 2000 kg of card­board was­te, 280 kg of biowas­te and 150 kg of plas­tic pac­ka­ges. Only 13 percent of the col­lec­ted bur­nable was­te was actual­ly bur­nable was­te: the rest could have been recycled, if it had been sor­ted cor­rect­ly.

Only 40 percent of the items col­lec­ted in recycling bins for plas­tic pints were made of plas­tic. The­re were, for example, glass bott­les and tin cans with recycling depo­sits, and biowas­te that soils the plas­tic was­te and makes it unfit for recycling. In addi­tion, the plas­tic was­te con­tai­ned a mix­tu­re of dif­fe­rent plas­tic types, of which bio­de­gra­dable plas­tic is proble­ma­tic, since it can­not be recycled among other plas­tic types.

“Cate­ring ser­vices should be instruc­ted to order dis­hes made of the same plas­tic type. When it comes to encou­ra­ging the recycling of depo­sit bott­les, a cam­paign offe­ring to dona­te the depo­sit money to cha­ri­ty, for example, could be help­ful,” sug­gests Mik­ko Aho­kas.

The pilot was a lear­ning expe­rience

In addi­tion to the com­po­si­tion ana­ly­sis, data from the sen­sors insi­de the bins sug­gests what kind of recycling bins are nee­ded and whe­re they should be placed to gua­ran­tee enough recycling oppor­tu­ni­ties in the most crow­ded places of the fes­ti­val area.

The was­te mana­ge­ment car­bon footprint during the fes­ti­val wee­kend was approxi­ma­te­ly 5860 kg car­bon dioxi­de equi­va­lent. It is half of the annual car­bon footprint of an ave­ra­ge Fin­nish per­son. By impro­ving the recycling rate, the car­bon footprint of the fes­ti­val was­te mana­ge­ment and the who­le event could be dimi­nis­hed.

Qstock fes­ti­val, Hau­ru and Macon are hap­py with the outco­me of the pilo­ting and are going to con­ti­nue their fruit­ful coo­pe­ra­tion for a more eco-friend­ly fes­ti­val next year.

The Most Sus­tai­nable Euro­pean Capi­tal of Cul­tu­re pro­ject is financed by the Euro­pean Regio­nal Deve­lop­ment Fund and the Council of Oulu Region in 2019–2022.