A Greener Festival: Bluesfest

How Blusefest stays green

A Greener Festival: Bluesfest

01 June 2009

Each Easter, between 70,000 – 85,000 festival goers flock to the beachside town to enjoy not only one of Australia’s most acclaimed and respected Festivals, but to take in the sites and attractions of the local Northern Rivers region.

What started out as a small festival in 1990 at the Arts Factory in Byron Bay has grown in size and reputation and in 2010 – celebrating its 21st Anniversary – Bluesfest hopes to be on its own land and permanent festival site at Tyagarah NSW located just 10 minutes from the heart of Byron Bay.

Festival Director Peter Noble describes Bluesfest as “A peaceful gathering of people from around the world. A marriage of diverse cultures, religions and beliefs”.

"I believe there is a message that is universal and that is why I book an event that is meant to be seen and heard by all ages and backgrounds. It is about bringing everyone together" says Peter.

It is important to Peter that Bluesfest features musicians that have something to say about the planet. Peter is committed to doing the right thing concerning Bluesfest’s social and environmental responsibilities. Peter says “I see the importance of increasing public awareness of all the environmental issues and to lead by demonstration”.

Bluesfest demonstrates its commitment to environmental sustainability.
For many years Bluesfest has been evolving into a green event organisation incorporating imagination and ethics.  Peter says “We always try to find ‘green’ solution for every situation”.  To date the festival has excelled in implementing a waste management plan which diverts waste from land fill to a recycle processing plant. A composting policy has also proven successful with organic solid wastes being composted and going to local organic gardens.

The purchase of a permanent site at Tyagarah allows Bluesfest to expand its ‘green’ efforts. Peter aims to enhance the sustainability of the new site with wind and solar power.  “We will strive to be the best and we will have the same motives throughout the whole festival” says Peter.

The logistical and infrastructure challenges that are presented by the staging of the Bluesfest demand creative solutions and the creation of a strong partnership between event organisers and Byron Shire Council.  The support, vision and ingenuity of the Byron Shire Council assist implementation of environmental sustainability principles throughout the project.

Veolia Environmental Services
The 2009 Bluesfest marks the eighth year Veolia Environmental Services (VES) Pty Ltd (formerly Collex Pty Ltd) has been  involved in the event. As with each previous year VES has gained experience and refined the processes to ensure a smoother, cleaner and more environmentally friendly event.

The focus is a clean and green event. The volunteers assist VES to ensure that the site is recycled to its fullest potential.
VES reassess the requirements of the site to ensure that each key area is managed and sufficient receptacles are available for use by the festival goers each day, and that the site is clean right from the beginning. Two collection vehicles are utilised, one for General Waste and one for Recycling, which leads to reduced contamination of the recycling product and increased tonnages that are presented for recycling.

The general waste collected at the festival is transferred to a VES TiTree BioEnergy facility. The facility is a state of the art site which converts waste into clean energy. The recyclable product is transported to Visy Recycling at Gibson Island in Brisbane.

Waste Wise - Refuse, Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle
Bluesfest’s environmental motto is "Waste Wise - Refuse, Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle". This message is communicated via big screen ads shown at regular intervals during the festival. Bluesfest volunteers also move through crowds to collect rubbish and encourage attendees to dispose of waste thoughtfully. The Waste Wise message is followed right through to the organiser's office, where all office materials are recycled and reused. Additionally, Bluesfest is a sponsor of the BEC (Byron Environment Centre) BIN-YA-BUTT concept - using recycled film canisters as pocket ashtrays to reduce this form of littering.

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