With thousands (and sometimes tens- or hundreds of thousands) of visitors, festivals sometimes exceed whole populations of the cities they’re hosted in. However, unlike cities, festivals are temporary: built up only to be taken down a few days later. It’s this rapid construction and demolition process which makes festivals the perfect testing grounds for new circular solutions, recycling models, and waste-free systems.


The most important component of any sustainability strategy is the baseline measurement or analysis. Chasing change without having clear overview of the event’s impacts is highly inefficient. Therefore, the number one priority should be to gain deep understanding of the event’s metabolism: the resource flows that enter and exit the festival, and the different kinds of impacts these flows are associated with. To achieve this, a Material Flow Analysis (MFA) is perfect tool. The MFA quantifies the flows of materials, energy, and water that flow through the festival. Check out the MFA we did for DGTL below.


Hardcups are an effective approach for reducing waste as well as educating visitors about sustainable behavior. Drinks are no longer served to visitors in disposable softcups, but rather in a reusable hardcup. This not only has a huge impact on the amount of plastic waste created, but also makes visitors reflect on their current ‘linear’ behavior (take-make-waste) and it presents a new perspective on reusing precious resources

The hardcup system can be implemented in two forms:

Refundable deposit system: the visitor pays an extra amount of money for the hardcup, on top of the regular price of a drink. This amount is a deposit and encourages the visitor to keep a hold of the hardcup instead of throwing it on the ground as waste. [If]When the visitor decides to return the hardcup [to]at the bar, their paid deposit is then subtracted from their next order. If they return the hardcup to the designated “hardcup collection point”, the visitor receives a refund for X credit.

Non-refundable deposit system: the visitor pays an extra amount of money for the hardcup, on top of the regular price of a drink. In this case, the extra payment is a non-refundable deposit. This means that the visitor pays for the hardcup as if he or she would buy it. After having paid for the hardcup, the visitor owns the cup and is free to take it home.


We no longer see waste as waste, but as a collection of resources. From this idea, the “Resource Management Plan” was born, a completely new perspective on the way in which Revolution treats resources. In this transition, the festival shifts from seeing “waste as a problem” to “resources as a solution”. This translates into a totally new protocol for the collection, separation and processing of resources before, during and after the event. Resource flows such as PET, cardboard/paper, tin and glass are collected, separated and made as clean as possible, both front- and backstage, in order to maximize the opportunity to recycle at high value. In this way we enter into a new dialogue with visitors, partners, the municipality, cleaning parties and processing companies.


With regard to the food system, we work with a Circular Foodcourt. This entails that the festival [employs] as many sustainable caterers as possible who work with locally produced products and cook according to circular principles. Furthermore, Revolution alters the infrastructure of the food court in such a way that all organic residual flows (including biodegradable plates, cutlery and napkins) are centrally collected to be converted into compost. The compost is then used again by (urban) farmers for the production of vegetables and herbs for future events.


Revolution Foundation makes impact beyond the festival perimeter. Together with local entrepreneurs, residents and artists we work on Living Lab projects in which we co-create with local entrepreneurs, artist and students. Through collaboration we pioneer projects that reimage festivals as a means to improve neighbourhoods. For DGTL 2019 we developed a multifunctional Street Spot that enhances event atmosphere while improving safety in the neighbourhood.

Learn more about Street Spot here.