Under the heading "G'scheit feiern" about 200 festivals are held in Styria per year, meeting criteria for waste prevention and regional origin of the food.
In the past, places in Styria where festivals and celebrations took place were heavily polluted by disposable plastic. This resulted in high costs for cleaning and disposal. For this reason, the waste department of the Province of Styria initiated the campaign "G’scheit feiern” (celebrate cleverly) and developed criteria for the sustainable organisation of festivals. Financial support was offered for festivals that met the criteria.
A network of 43 waste consultants from the waste management associations act as "G'scheit feiern" regional advisors, advising organisers and checking compliance with the "G'scheit feiern" criteria. They always initiate excellent showcase projects. Since 2017 "G'scheit feiern" is part of the Austria-wide "Green Events Austria" network. With the "Infothek Green Events Styria", a new web-based information portal for a sustainable event industry has been created; it is also intended to network organisers, producers and service providers.
Within the framework of "G'scheit feiern" events, only reusable crockery and cutlery as well as glasses or reusable cups may be used. Only regionally produced drinks and food may be offered, if possible from organic farming. Furthermore, a sustainable journey to the event, e.g. car pooling or shared taxis, is supported.
Within the framework of a stakeholder process, criteria for eligibility for funding were developed. An information campaign with logo and web portal was developed. Waste consultants were responsible for regional support. To date, the Province of Styria has spent more than EUR 1 million on promotion.
Evidence of success
90 % of waste could be reduced per event. Since 2001 around 4.5 million visitors saved 4.000 tonnes of waste and EUR 45 million went directly to Styrian producers. G‘scheit feiern influences other types of events (e.g. running races) to use reusable cups instead of single use cups. The City of Graz published guidelines for events on public areas that reusable crockery and cutlery must be used. An intensive networking of waste advisers working in the waste management associations was established.
The stakeholder process to determine the criteria involved intensive discussions, as different interests had to be reconciled. Many organisers were sceptical, as the use of reusable tableware was more expensive and offering regional drinks and food was also more labour-intensive.
Potential for learning or transfer
Festival events usually lead to a large amount of waste and pollution of the festival grounds. The implementation of such sustainable events will also attract groups of participants who are not normally open-minded and environmentally aware citizens. In this way, waste prevention can be practically demonstrated and a new low-waste festival culture can be conveyed. At the same time the consumption of regionally and biologically produced beverages and products is promoted, so that the money spent remains in the region. "G'scheit feiern" is a long-standing and successfully implemented example of good practice so that other waste associations in Europe can build on this experience. This will be particularly important in the implementation of the new European directive on single-use plastics.
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