Festival Waste Management

We, Kim and Cécile, decided to do our work about the waste management at festivals like the Openair Frauenfeld or the Royal Arena. We have both visited these two festival more than once and we thought it would be interesting to find out why waste is a big problem at festivals.

  • We conducted a survey about the behaviour of festival visitors in regard to waste.
  • We interviewed a friend of ours who has worked at the Openair Frauenfeld as a helper.
  • We could get an interview with a person in charge of the Royal Arena!
  • We thought of things we could do to improve the waste problem.

The OpenAir Frauenfeld is the biggest Hip-Hop Festival in Europe and the Royal Arena Festival is another Hip-Hop Festival which takes place in Orpund, Biel.


78 People took our survey. We want to thank them for that! We have set our results in pie charts. We interviewed the following groups of people: 75% were 16-20 years old, 21% 20-30 and 4% over 30. 58% of the participants have visited the Openair Frauenfeld or the Royal Arena (The Royal Arena is one of the biggest Hip-Hop Festivals in Switzerland).

1. Wie viel Abfall produzierst du an Festivals an einem Tag?

2. Wenn du ein Getränk an einem Stand kaufst und Depot bezahlst, bringst du den Becher wieder zurück?

3. Wenn Abfallsäcke verteilt werden, füllst du diese und entsorgst sie auch?

4. Wenn du campen gehst, räumst du am letzten Tag dein Zelt auf und nimmst es wieder nach Hause?

5. An einigen Festivals gibt es die Möglichkeit, Abfall zu trennen. Tust du das?

1. Wie viel Abfall produzierst du an Festivals an einem Tag?

As the results show, festivals in general still have potential to improve their waste management.

Interview with a person who has worked at the Openair Frauenfeld

We made our interview with Michelle. She’s a good friend of ours and has already worked 3 times as a helper for the Openair Frauenfeld. She knows a lot about the waste problem at the festival and gave us some interesting information.

Michelle, why did you decide to work at the OAF as a helper?
First of all, I really like this festival and hip hop music in general. As a helper you are allowed to enter the festival for free. The working times aren’t that strict so I’m always able to watch my favourite acts. Moreover, I always meet some nice people my age during work. This makes this job much easier.

What are your main tasks during the festival?
When the festival starts, I have to hand out wristbands to the festival visitor. Without them, they aren’t allowed to enter the festival. During the festival, I’m busy with clearing queues and the areas around the stages. This is a nearly never ending work. It’s horrible how much garbage doesn’t get picked up. When the festival has ended, I also help clearing the camping area. This is always an absolute nightmare. Tonnes of tents, pavilions, tarpaulins, camp chairs, bottles and other waste must be disposed of.

How much do you earn for your effort?
Not much… Free entry and some drink coupons. But it’s totally worth it!

How to apply for such a job?
Fortunately, I know some of the organisers and they asked me to help them. Some of the jobs are also advertised on the OAF-homepage, but they are extremely limited.

What do you think about the trash problem on the festival?
There were some improvements over the last few years, but unfortunately the problem is still not solved at all. The amount of trash left by the visitors is still tremendous.

Do you like the depot-concept in connection with tents, plastic cups etc.?
Basically the idea is quite good, but it’s very difficult to implement this concept at a festival. People don’t want to stand in queues or are just too lazy to hand their stuff back. Pity, but I understand them.

What is your suggestions for solving this problem?
I would hire more staff for the festival. There are a lot of young people who would help for a free entry. The depot queues will become shorter and the trash will be cleared faster. In my opinion, there could also be more bins in the festival area.”

Interview with the Royal Arena

Kim and I had the opportunity to do an interview with a person in charge of the Royal Arena Festival! The Royal Arena is one of the biggest Hip-Hop-Festivals in Switzerland. It takes place every year in Biel and they managed to organize Hip Hop Icons like Wiz Khalifa, Methodman and Redman, Wu-Tang-Clan or Dilated Peoples. We want to thank Marcel Sallin and the Royal Arena team for taking time to answer our questions.

How long did the cleaning work take?
4-5 days (final cleaning included)

How many workers have you employed for the work?
over 100 people

How many tonnes of trash came together?
over 25 tonnes

Are you satisfied with the current situation?
Every year the trash is disposed in contribution with the Werkhofteam of Orpund. The tempo and the process is very good. But in the future we want to separate more waste and motivate the visitors to take their tents back home as well as seperating their trash.

How much does the cleaning work cost in total?
Between 20’000 and 30’000 Swiss Francs (incl. personal costs)

Do you engage in separating and recycling trash?
Pet and glass is separated and recycled behind the bars. From 2017, we will place separation points at the entrance to the camping site and there will be a tent depot.”

If you are interested in the Royal Arena Festival, we would like to recommend the following link: Royal Arena. Kim and I both visited the Royal Arena last year and we will definitely visit it again next year! It’s totally worth it if you like Hip-Hop-Music, especially Oldschool, like we do.

Ideas to improve the participation of the visitors

We have visited the Openair Frauenfeld and the Royal Arena many times and we have experienced some problems that could be improved.

Source: Blick

The problem with the plastic cups

If you buy a drink at the OAF or the Royal Arena, we have to pay 2.- depot per cup and we get a chip. If we bring back the cup AND the chip we get our 2.- back. In our survey we have asked why people wouldn’t bring their cup back and some answers were like 2.- aren’t worth the effort, the queue is way too long or they don’t want to go back to where they bought the drink. Here are some ideas how we could solve this problem:

Separate queue

Some of the people who took our survey said that they would not bring their cup back because the queue was too long. We thought of the possibility of a separate queue, so you can bring your cup back and can “pay” your next beer with it.

Increase Depot

Another way is to increase the charge. If you would pay 5 Francs for every cup you buy, would you return it to get that 5.- back? We totally would.

Special cup

Maybe another way is to create a special OAF Cup. For example: you pay around 10.- for the cup and you carry it with you every time. A special feature would be that you can fold the cup to put it back in your trousers or your bag.

Workers who walk around

Maybe another idea would be that workers would walk around where you can put your cup in and get your 2.- back (of course you need the chip).


Problem with the tents

Every year, thousands of tents are left behind because the people don’t make the effort to take their tents back home. At the OAF, you pay 20.- depot for each tent or pavillon you take with you. If you show your tent at the end of the festival at the exit, you get your 20.- back. Why would so many people leave their tent behind? Here are some of the improvements we have thought about.


The depot is high, but obviously not high enough. Would you bring your tent back if you would have paid 50.-? We would!

Rent a tent

That is possible at the OAF, but only for the VIP section. What about a tent you could rent for like 100 franncs and bring it back at the last day? We would think about that offer whether we would take it or not.

More Exits!

This is a really big problem at the OAF. On Sunday morning, we really thought about not giving our tents back because the queue was WAY too long to get your depot back. We have had to wait like 2 hours! More exits would definitely solve this problem, because we think this is a big point for the most of the visitors who don’t bring their tent back at the end of a festival.


General problem of waste

At the OAF or the Royal, waste is a big problem. Many people just throw their stuff on the ground and they don’t even care what happens with it. We thought about the following solutions:

More workers like homeless or unemployees (like Sziget Festival in Budapest)

At the Sziget Festival, they employ workers who are homeless or do not have a job. That’s a good way to get workers for the festival. They can do something worth while doing this work and it is very important that these people earn a reasonable amount of money and that they are treated fairly.

More bins

Sometimes, you are just too lazy to make that effort and walk to the next bin which is maybe 2 minutes away from your spot. How about more bins?


We hope you liked our work and we hope it helped you to understand the problem of waste management at a festival. Thank you very much for reading and best regards,

Kim and Cécile


Reviewed by: Sonia Hemmerle

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15 thoughts on “Festival Waste Management

  1. Hello Kim and Cécile

    I’ve also visited the Openair Frauenfeld multiple times and I’ve also seen the problem the festival has with rubbish.
    I just read your article and it’s very interesting and full of facts. The survey showed me the different opinions people in different age groups have and that astonished me.
    I read the ideas you guys had to improve the Openair Frauenfeld and I personally think they are very useful and should be done next year.

    Personally I think it’s a very hard task to improve the rubbish problem that the openair has. To enter with a tent you’ve got to pay a fee for your tent. But when you leave and show the staff your tent and give them back the token you get your Fee back.

    Besides all the tents people leave their camping chairs, one way grills, tables, clothes and all sorts of rubbish next to their camping spot. If I was in the organisation team of the openair I would make sure everyone gets their own space that is reserved with their name and information. So if they leave a huge mess the organisation can ban them for a year or more, depending on the mess they left. That way people would clean up after themselves so they can visit the openair next year without any problem.

    Their is a Migros there and If they would try and sell their products as environment friendly as possible I’m pretty sure nobody would complain as long as it’s still useful and they get what they’re paying for.

    The other problem are the smokers. The event is known for the amount of nicotine and weed smokers. The produce a lot of CO2 and the packages are all over the openair. You can buy cigarettes cheaper at the event than in any other shop in Switzerland. I don’t approve of this, because that animates younger people or non-smokers in general to buy a packet and produce more CO2.

    kind regards
    Iain 😀

  2. Hi Cécile and Kim

    I’ve really enjoyed reading through your article, as I myself love going to festivals, but like you guys I’ve asked myself one time or another what happens with these enormous amount of waste.
    Especially the two interviews were very good.
    However where I see room for improvement is in the evaluation of your survey. In my opinion it is a bit imprecise.
    Nevertheless you’ve done a great job!

    Kind regards Luca

  3. Dear Kim and Cecile,

    We think that your work is really interesting and gives a great insight about the existing problem, that we encounter in festivals. Your work is detailed and very easy to read.

    The sole complaint we have is that you used german and english in the report would suggest to write the whole report in the same langauage.

    Kind regards,
    Jeff and Loris

  4. Hi Kim and Cécile

    I already visited some festivals and was also shocked from the amount of trash so clearly I was interested in your opinion and tips on how to reduce this.

    I was surprised that in your diagrams was shown that the different behaviours from age to age is huge. For example, in the Question 5 about recycling.
    The tonnes and time to clean up the trash have point out the problem of festivals form the interview with the Royal Arena. However, I am interested to know how long the field needs to recover from the footprints and how much the farmer is paid for lending the terrain.

    I found the change from German to English a bit annoying, but since you did the survey in German it made sense. To sum up I found the text very exciting from start to finish and will think about it the next time I will visit a festival.

    Great job!


  5. Dear writers

    I am currently looking forward to go to the Openair Frauenfeld this summer, so I was intrigued when I saw your article. I really liked your Post, especially the interview with people who have worked and cleaned up a festival area.

    The ideas you brought up to decrease the waste at a festival were very interesting, especially the idea of raising the Depot of tents and cups. I believe the depot of tents at the OAF has raised to 50.- as you suggested.

    The only thing with potential to improve is the Interview with the Royal Arena team. It could have been more detailed.

    Great job!


  6. Dear Festival Waster Management Team

    As i am a frequent visitor of Festivals, your article\’s headline caught my eyes. I\’m familiar with the problem of the amount of waste left behind by the people and thanks to your Survey, i can kind of understand why there\’s so much.

    You did a really great job with your thoughts of improving the situation. They are well structured, properly explained and, most important, feasible.

    I do think that the conclusion of yours is a bit too short for the amount of work you had for this article. So maybe next time you could make a more detailed conclusion. This would make the end of the article much more pleasant to read than such a short one.

  7. Hi guys!

    This topic was very well chosen and due to the fact that I\’m a Festival-Lover, it was very interesting to read your article. The facts and the results, which are illustrated very clearly with the pie-charts made me realize that there are still a lot of points where we can improve our behaviour in such events. Nevertheless, you were able to show up a lot of room for improvement. Unfortunately I would have expected a more detailed conclusion because, as we know, it\’s a topic which will increase more and more each time.

    Good job and best wishes!


  8. Wir finden das Projekt sehr gut sowie originell, zumal es noch auf Englisch verfasst wurde. Das Thema Waste Management in Festivals ist sowohl wichtig, als auch sehr aktuell. Sie haben die Hauptprobleme bei Veranstaltungen erkannt und Gegenmassnahmen empfohlen, um diese zu lösen. Dennoch wäre es eine Bereicherung, wenn Sie die Gegenmassnahmen in Ihrer Arbeit stärker konkretisieren würden. Es wäre auch sinnvoll, die Conclusion mit einer kleinen Zusammenfassung der wichtigsten Ergebnisse der Arbeit zu ergänzen (was wurde in der Arbeit erreicht? was bleibt zu tun?).

    Wenn Sie an einer Ergänzung Ihrer Webseite mit weiteren Massnahmen interessiert sind, würde ich vorschlagen, dass Sie die Webseite Saubere Veranstaltung (www.saubere-veranstaltung.ch) besuchen. Dort können Sie weitere Informationen zur Planung nachhaltiger Veranstaltungen finden.

    Es freut uns sehr zu erfahren, dass Sie durch Ihre Ausbildung so viel über die Umwelt gelernt haben und sich dafür einsetzen. Weiter so!

    Rita Barros
    Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

    Eidgenössisches Departement für Umwelt, Verkehr, Energie und Kommunikation UVEK
    Abteilung Abfall und Rohstoffe
    Sektion Siedlungsabfälle

  9. Dear Festival Team

    Your post is interesting to read! It is really cool that you had the opportunity to interview people from two different festivals. These interviews made your post more authentic.
    We are happy that the festival organisers want to improve their garbage management.

    Kadri, Dominique and Imre

  10. Dear Festival Waste Management team!
    Good job!
    Indeed, the main photo is beautiful! But the waste problem is not solved. Year by year I am annoyed having to watch photos of hills of waste left at the Open Air Festivals and I miss some education here! A consumers society! Lack of social behaviour? This is not the only cause of the problem, of course, and – as being an optimist – I am convinced things will become better in future. Interpreting the results of the survey, the \”older\” guys are more waste management oriented.
    This study shows some good ideas, and I agree that leaving waste behind must hit your pocket! The deposit for cups, tents, and other material, must be doubled, or tripled, at least!
    The festival committee must spend more money to allow for quick garbage return and garbage collection. I understand anyone who does not want to wait for two hours in a queue to get 20 bucks back! WTF! Put more bins on the area! Each bin must be a throwing distance away. Allow room for more return queues, the wait time should be less than ten minutes! Spend a lot of effort to collect garbage regularly, and I mean very often – garbage which is seen attracts more garbage!
    The visitors must understand proper weaste management results in more comfort and comfort is expensive. The festival ticket price will rise by 5-10 francs. But it is worth it.

  11. Hi Cécile & Kim
    Your contribution is really interessting. I\’m especially interessted in your post because I also visited some Festivals myself. 😀
    Your headingpicture is also stuning! Sooooo lovely <3
    Keep on doing such awesome work!
    With lot of love Kristina

  12. Dear Festival-Team

    The selfmade headpicture is very nice and well chosen.
    It is impressive that you put so much work in your contribution with the survey and the two interviews. In your survey your graphs showed detailed information (with different ages). The interview with the royal arena gave us a deeper insight in the claning process.
    You showed a lot of good ideas to improve the participation of the visitors. The lenght of the conclusion compared to the lenght of the whole contribution is quite short and we have expected a more detailed conclusion. Overall your work is excellent.

    Kind regards Fabienne, Nicole, Laura (Paper-Team)

  13. Hello

    This is a very interesting article about the Festival waste management. You\’ve written a good decription of the reality problems at the Festival and which results they are bringing at the end.

    You have made a good job!

  14. Dear Festival-Team
    Firstly, your headpicture is really nice with the different colors and fits perfectly to your topic!

    Unfortunatley, we think you can put more pictures in your contribution so you can imagine more about this topic.

    Greetings Gillian and Mara (Cheese-Team)

  15. Hey guys
    Your Post is really interesting, I enjoyed reading it! I think your Survey and your interviewes are really nice chosen and informative. Especially the answers in detail are good! Good job!

    Love Ramela

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