Photos of trash mountains left behind by festival guests have become a common feature in Danish media - and it causes severe environmental hangovers for Roskilde Festival. 2280 tons of waste was generated at Roskilde Festival 2017. That is a slight reduction compared to 2016 - but nonetheless a significant amount of waste and a number that speaks for itself. Or does it?

The long-term ambition is to incorporate a mentality and practice where all waste is considered a resource. To achieve this, a concerted effort is needed from festival management, volunteers and guests alike. We set a goal of increasing sorted waste by 10% each year for the period of 2016 to 2019.


So, for instance, how did we do in 2017?

The good news is that we reduced the amount of waste generated, from 2490 tons in 2016 to 2280 tons in 2017. However, 2280 tons of waste still makes up mountain ranges of trash and compared to the previous ten years, 2017 comes in third only superseded in amounts of waste in 2016 (2490 tons) and the infamous rain-year 2007 (2964 tons). This shows us that the total waste volume is sensitive to unmanageable factors such as the weather. And that is why we do not set goals for the total amount of waste but the amount of sorted waste.

The sorted waste amount did increase from 399 tons in 2016 to 405 tons in 2017. But this was not quite enough to meet the 10% goal of 427 tons for 2017*. Although the reduction in total waste meant that the relative fraction of sorted waste increased to 18%, up from 16%, in 2016.



Waste is divided in three fractions that emphasize waste as a valuable resource, as the overall goal is rooted in the idea that waste, which cannot be reduced, should be sorted and reused:

  • Recycling – Items sorted for recycling such as glass, metal, cardboard, food leftovers, batteries and much more.
  • Landfill – Items separated for landfill. The largest fraction being air mattresses, which contains PVC and emits chloride gasses if burned. Landfill is a better solution than incineration BUT the most environmental-friendly option is to reuse air mattresses instead of leaving them behind!
  • Incineration – Anything left that can burn! Unfortunately, this includes many tons of reusable and recyclable resources.

Peter Ringtved, RF Grafik