11 September 2017
With its 135,000 visitors a year, and almost 200 music acts over eight days, the Danish Roskilde Festival is the largest music festival in Northern Europe. It may also be one of the “greenest”.
This year, Abena supplied the biodegradable, disposable tableware and paper products used by the festival’s more than 100 organic food stalls and guests. Hundreds of thousands of meals were served with Abena napkins, cups, cutlery and pizza boxes!
When an audience this size is gathered in one place for over a week, the amount of waste produced is substantial. In 2013, Abena was asked to deliver a small sample of our biodegradable products to the festival – coffee cups, plates, paper products, etc. - to test how they performed in use. “The festival already had efficient procedures in place for waste sorting and disposal, including excess food delivery to homeless shelters, but they wanted to do even more. They realized that if they wanted to optimize waste recycling and repurposing, the input had to improve as well”, says Michael Bisgaard Larsen, sales representative at Abena.
The trial run in 2013 was a success, and over the past few years, Abena has supplied the Roskilde Festival with more and more sustainable products each year, and the festival has made huge progress with multiple environmental initiatives. Food vendors are now required to sell +90% organic food, and all their disposable paper products and tableware must be biodegradable. Beer mugs and cutlery are made from fully compostable PLA plastic. For the Roskilde Festival, foam plates and traditional plastic products are now a thing of the past.
As with most companies who want to switch to sustainable production, one of the challenges the festival faced was money. Roskilde Festival is a non-profit organization, and replacing cheap plastic products with slightly more expensive, recycled materials would inevitably make a difference to their bottom line. To justify a budget increase, the product must be worth it. The festival decided to test Abena’s products on a small scale at first, to make sure the products matched their needs when food vendors and guests put them to the test. “Even with hundreds of different kinds of food, unpredictable weather conditions, a hectic festival camp environment, and – not least – hard delivery deadlines, we were confident we could deliver”, says Michael.
The Roskilde Festival already uses environment-friendly cleaning products and waste bags, but together, we are working to go even further. Some cleaning products now come in biodegradable plastic bottles, and food waste can be stored in compostable bags made from corn starch. “This summer, we spent a day at the festival talking to guests and food vendors, asking them what they thought of our products. We left Roskilde inspired by all the positive feedback and requests for new initiatives, and I can’t wait to see how far we can take this,” says Michael. Mikkel Sander, Sustainability Manager from Roskilde Festival says that it helps realize the festival’s sustainability strategy. “We have a goal in our strategy that we only buy environment-friendly products, when they exist. Disposable tableware is an important element of this, as it reduces our use of fossil plastic. Furthermore, one of our goals is to reduce our amounts of waste and send more to recycling. Biodegradable products make it possible to recover both energy and nutrients from the products, thus reducing our amounts of waste. We experimented with energy and nutrients recovery this year, but look forward to exploring this more in the coming years.”
Read more about Roskilde Festival’s sustainability work here: http://www.roskilde-festival.dk/more/sustainability
Abena helps Roskilde Festival go greener!