Werchter festivals in 2018 = sustainable festivals

(update: 31.05.2018)

Festivals have an impact on the environment. Of this, we are acutely aware. For years, we have sought to organise the Werchter festivals in a more sustainable way. They have to be greener. Greener festivals are possible. We can do it, step by step. We launch new initiatives every year. We shift heaven and earth for better water treatment, waste recycling and mobility. We're going all out for green energy and cutting down our use of fossil fuels, year after year. Can we do better? Of course we can. We are getting involved. We are going for it. Every year our festivals are getting greener.

Year of the bike

Pushing for public transport. It's what we have done for years. Rock Werchter, in association with NMBS and De Lijn, offers a free e-train ticket with every festival ticket sold. That's your trip to Rock Werchter sorted, by train or by bus. Festivalgoers catch the train to Leuven or Aarschot station. Then shuttle buses, run by De Lijn, take them the rest of the way to Werchter and back. And our partners, De Lijn, contribute something extra to the cause. They fit the buses with diesel particulate filters and bring in hybrid buses. Public transport is also laid on for day festivals and evening concerts, for a nominal fee.

2018 is the year of the bike. If you live in the surrounding area we encourage you to ride your bike into Werchter. There are supervised bicycle parking areas, free of charge, near the Festivalpark. New this year: Park & Ride, parking lots located just a bike ride away from Werchter. Free to festivalgoers, provided they make the final leg to Werchter on their bikes.

Less waste, more and improved recycling

Wherever people gather they leave a mess. That's the reality, we are sorry to say. We aim to reduce the mountain of refuse and to dispose of it efficiently. We are taking action. Tested, successful and still in vogue at Werchter: a free drinks’ token for festivalgoers in exchange for 20 empty cups or PET bottles. Minimal investment, big return.

With waste expert SUEZ environnement, we share a vision in which waste management doesn't stop at just collecting and getting rid of trash. The separation process on site, with recycling as the main goal, is even more important and plays a central role in a circular model that repurposes trash into a new function as a secondary resource. In 2017, both partners sorted a total of 5 tonnes of foil, 17 tonnes of beer cups, 11 tonnes of plastic, metal and drink cartons (mainly plastic bottles) and 14 tonnes of paper. The beer cups and plastic bottles are recycled into PP products. Foil is converted into new foil. The collected paper and cardboard are turned into paper drinking cups. The leftover waste is used as fuel in waste-to-energy plants and thus become energy.

One of the points we are working on is a more plastic-free festival. Are we consuming too much, or even far too much, plastic? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’, it pains us to say. With so much work to be done, and because we would like to get involved, we are supporting Plastic Free May. Our festivals won't be plastic-free in 2018. But we promise to turn our attention to the materials we do use. We and our stakeholders - the crew, suppliers and sponsors - aim to spotlight our consumption of plastic. If we can avoid using plastic or replace it with another material, we will be more than happy to do so. Plastic straws are now banned from the Festival Park with immediate effect. In 2019, we aim to give our first status report and present a comprehensive plan of action for the years to come.

And what about the campsites? It is no secret, we would love to see the campsites looking tidier on a Monday morning. Every camper is given a PMD refuse bag on arrival. It’s hardly a big job to fill it and bring it to the campsite collection point. Nor is it much effort to take down your tent and take it with you. We are going to raise awareness, raise awareness, raise awareness. We are counting on common sense, and green sense, from the festivalgoer.

Unique in the festival world: on-site water treatment plant

The sanitary facilities were upgraded in 2015. The Festivalpark is equipped with vacuum toilets. Festivalgoers are able to use the toilets in comfort. Vacuum toilets look like a normal toilet, complete with porcelain bowl. They are easy to keep clean. There is barely an unpleasant odour. It is possible to have good sanitary facilities in a festival environment. The sanitary blocks are also fitted with vacuum urinals. The vacuum toilets consume less than a litre of water per flush. The wastewater from the toilets is collected in buffer tanks and transported to Aquafin, where it is treated. The septic material from the - (still) chemical - toilets at The Hive is also taken to Aquafin. The local water treatment plant, which came into service in 2014, built in collaboration with Waterleau, continues to operate. The waste water from the kitchens and showers backstage and The Hive are collected in the holding basins and treated organically on site.

Fuel consumption down by almost 20%

The energy story deserves special attention. With the creation of the park, the Festivalpark recently acquired a power transformer. This allows us to use green energy on the mains network. Much of the backstage activities now rely on green energy from the first day of assembly. The diesel generators haven't gone away. But now we have fewer than ever before. And we’re smarter about how we use them. By combining them in power plants we need less in the way of energy. And that means lower fuel consumption. We save even more by fitting high output lighting. Areas which are more difficult to reach and do not require permanent power are equipped with hybrid solutions. With our partner, The Powershop, we are constantly looking for more sustainable resources.

Our approach is paying off. Compared to 2014, fuel consumption at our festivals has fallen by 19%. We use 0.26 litres of diesel per festivalgoer per day. A fantastic result. A study has shown that, on average, comparable European festivals consume 0.38 litres per festivalgoer per day.

Promise

Are we doing well? Yes. Could we do better? Of course. Are we going for green, sustainable festivals? Absolutely. We are working on it. We are learning. We are looking into it. Our festivals will have to be more sustainable in the (near) future, and they will be. That's our promise.