Our most clearly visible environmental problem consists to be abandoned camping equipment such as air mattresses, tents and camping chairs, outside of 8 days of consumption of beer, food cans and other necessities associated with sustaining life at a campsite. Dedicated staff and volunteers make sure that all waste is collected in the weeks after the festival. However, shipping of more than 2000 tons of waste for incineration is a waste of resources when proper sorting could have ensured recycling of many valuable resources.

Increased focus

We set an ambitious objective of increasing waste sorting by 10% a year for the period 2016 to 2018. Unfortunately, we did not accomplish this goal for 2018 as sorted waste constituted 296tons, a drop from approximately 400 tons in 2016 and 2017. Sorted waste constituted 12,9% of the total waste fraction in 2018, down from 14,7% and 14,8% in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The reduction is slightly less pronounced when looking at waste sorted for recycling. 2018 was a hallmark year where we did not send any waste directly for landfill. The fractions sorted waste and sorted for recycling were therefore of equal size in 2018.

The reduced amount of sorted waste cannot be explained by a reduction in the total amount of waste. For 2018, total waste constituted 2297tons, a slight increase from 2281 tons in 2018, but lower than 2522tons in 2016. 2000 tons of waste were incinerated for energy retrieval in 2018. This is 124tons more than in 2018 but 123 tons less than 2016, which equals approximately 6% of variation on each side of our result in 2018.

Waste sorted for recycling comprise many categories of which metal, cardboard, glass, metal and bio waste are the largest and most well-known fractions from everyday household waste. We increase the number of recycling stations this year from 7 to 10 to support those guests who request better waste sorting.

Additionally, we open up manned pop-up recycling stations at the end of festival on Saturday and Sunday. Typical items sorted by our guests are glass, beer cans and broken camping equipment. Other initiatives consist of ReAct waste sorting parades and “bottle patrols” that walk the camping area throughout the festival week to encourage- and participate in waste collection and sorting.

ReAct will this year consist of approximately 330 volunteers, up from 200 in 2018. Food vendors are also important contributors to waste sorting, especially in the form of cardboard, glass and bio waste of which the latter consist of cooking oil that is turned into biodiesel and green waste that is sent for biological gasification. Our beer- and drink cups made of PLA (Polylactic acid) bioplastic were also sent for biological gasification, but this waste fraction is expected to cease from this year as we introduce re-usable drinking cups.

The 4 most common waste fractions sorted for recycling, Roskilde Festival 2016-18. Numbers are in metric tons.

















Bio waste








Recycling of air mattresses

PVC (Polyvinylchloride)-containing air mattresses are popular among our camping guests but are unfortunately left behind in large numbers when the festival is over. Festival volunteers- and employees do a great job to collect air mattresses separately, since these contain soft PVC that is considered hazardous waste. Up until now, the hazardous waste classification meant that air mattresses were sent for landfill in Germany, but in 2018 we shipped air mattresses for recycling. It is unfortunately uncertain how much of the PVC that has in fact been recycled due to problems at the recycling factory and we are still investigating a solution for this year’s festival. The environmental friendly option is easy to see – air mattresses must be re-used and preferably not contain PVC!

Attitude change facilitated by “clean camp” concepts

Waste abandoned at our camping area is estimated to constitute approximately 75% of our total waste. It is therefore of utmost importance to change attitude away from the common “buy and discard” culture towards bringing home and re-use of camping equipment if we are to create an environmentally sustainable festival. We will increase focus on changing this culture by expanding the “clean camp” areas “Leave no trace” and “Clean out loud” in 2019. Festival guests are here committed to participate in cleaning of the camping area in exchange for a pre-granted and secured camping spot.

Belongings were registrered upon arrival and departure for ”Leave no trace” guests in 2018.

A part of the camping area “Clean Out Loud” located at Camping west is seen left of the railroad track after the festival ended. In comparison, the regular camping area Camping east is seen to the right of the tracks.

New actions for waste reduction

We reduce the total amount of waste by stopping buying selected categories of single-use plastics that ultimately end up as waste. The most ambitious effort in 2019 is the change from single-use beer and drink cups made of PLA bioplastic to washable cups. This action alone is expected to reduce the amount of waste with approximately 20tons. Another single-use item that we cease from buying this year is drinking straws, except for a small portion reserved for people with disabilities. Washable drinking cups is a collaboration with Carlsberg Denmark and other Danish festivals, based on assessment of a life-cycle analysis made by Force Technology for the municipality of Copenhagen, December 2018.

Our new drinking cup made of PP (Polypropylen) with minimum life expectancy of 25 washes. Cups must be used at least 3 times in order to achieve a lower CO2 emission compared to the use of single-use cups made of PET (Polyethylene). The life-cycle analysis evaluate various parameters including use of electricity, water and detergent in the washing process. Help os reduce our environmental footprint by handing in your glass for washing!