DGTL is a music festival based in Amsterdam that started in 2013. With global events in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv, Santiago and Bangalore, their sustainability program distinguishes them within the festival landscape; a meat-free food court by using residual flows from local food chains, energy management system even for participants’ mobility. In 2020, become the first circular, climate-neutral event. (Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they organized a virtual festival this year.) They also serve as a living-lab for future city innovations in collaboration with regional governments.https://dgtl.nl/
Mitchell is a sustainability coordinator from Revolution
Foundation that organizes sustainable practices of DGTL Festival.
While the event industry is pressed to update its structure, DGTL made great strides in the field of circularity for years. As a pioneer in the field of innovation and sustainability, DGTL has created a circular blueprint that can be applied to both a festival and a city. DGTL Amsterdam is the world’s first electronic music festival that pursues full circularity.
Their circular achievement and their regenerative vision inspire us to rebuild our relationship with nature.
Please tell us the history
Festival. When, who,
and how this event starts?
What started as smaller parties organized by two friends many years ago, soon gave birth to Apenkooi Events as we know it now which now hosts events all over the world. Apenkooi Events in Amsterdam is the founder of DGTL.
They are known for organizing events with a strong focus on music, creativity and sustainability.
DGTL started in 2013 with an unflinching commitment to bring visitors cutting-edge electronic music from all over the world, we strive to highlight an inclusive line-up of emerging and established talent from the fields of art and music by providing them with a global stage.
DGTL started out in Amsterdam, but now also organizes editions in Santiago, São Paulo, Bangalore, Barcelona, Tel Aviv and Madrid.
How does DGTL work on the
100% circular music festival?
DGTL has been actively
on efforts for sustainability such
as Circular Foodcourt, Material Flow Analysis, etc. What was the biggest challenge among these practices?
We are pioneering and we want to do things that have not yet been invented in our industry. As a result, you encounter various challenging obstacles, but we do not shy away from the challenges, in fact, we embrace them. We work with many suppliers and for our Material Flow Analysis (MFA) we need a lot of specific data from our suppliers, while they are not used to sharing so much detailed information. This was also a challenge with raw material processors where we wanted weighing reports and photos as proof of processing. It was also a challenge with, for example, tent owners who have never weighed their amount of steel and our caterers who have secret recipes.
We have a strict procurement policy for the food court, so that we can compost all the material and use it to grow food for our next events. As a result, all disposable tableware and cutlery that is used must be made of biodegradable material. There are so many materials on the market that claim to be biodegradable, but that often doesn’t work in practice. It is very difficult to distinguish these products, so we have created our own webshop with products that we know are suitable for processing into compost. By doing that it was very clear for all the suppliers.
My vision to create support among stakeholders is that you should facilitate it in such a way that it is easier or more fun to choose the sustainable option.
Are there any future plans or rooms for improvement that you are still working on?4
We have formulated DGTL objectives for the following five systems: energy, water and sanitation, food, raw materials (formerly called waste) and mobility. For some of these systems, we close the cycles, such as the cycles of energy, raw materials and water and sanitation. For a number of other systems, circularity is more difficult to define and therefore more difficult to achieve. This concerns the system’s mobility and food. Within these systems, this year the main focus will be on keeping the impact of these systems as small as possible.
We introduced a meat-free food court in 2016, but ⅓ of all food produced for human consumption is thrown away every year. This is a major problem that has a huge impact on the environment. Therefore, in addition to converting food scraps, plates and cutlery into compost, we also focus on the front-end of our food system by cooking with food that otherwise would have been thrown away. We maximize the percentage of wasted food for our meals by using residual flows from local food chains. This year we are taking a step further by offering a fully plant-based (vegan) menu put together by a select group of chefs.
Next to that we think a different vision is needed to propel us forward - a vision of a regenerative future that provides abundance for all, rather than a vision related to growth limits. We need to think about our developments, not in the context of doing less harm, but actually doing good. In other words, our projects must actively regenerate or have a positive impact on the people who use them and the local ecology that surrounds them.
Regenerative sustainability emerges as an alternative discourse around the transition from a ‘mechanistic’ to an ‘ecological’ or living world view. This vision helps us to re-conceptualize relationships between people’s technological, environmental, economic, social and political systems.
We see it as our responsibility to include regenerative design principles in our projects, educate our visitors about the benefits of these principles and inspire everyone to design for a better world. Therefore we choose to use this moment in time to pledge leaving a trace, wherever we go.
DGTL has been held in
and Israel. Have you
faced any difficulties to
We always try to implement our knowledge and experience of DGTL Amsterdam at DGTL Globalevents, given the local technical and economic possibilities. We have a global sustainability program, which reduces the biggest impact hotspots such as a vegetarian food menu, a smart energy plan, a hardcup system and a resource management plan. But sometimes the local technical possibilities aren’t sufficient to run a complete show on renewable energy sources for example.
In Santiago we’ve had a circular food court and in Barcelona we ran the complete show on solar and wind energy and we eliminated all single-use materials. By doing that our global DGTL events won several sustainability awards too.
How do you think
the future of
experience will be?
I think that a combination of online and offline will become very important.
However, the global reach and accessibility of a virtual event are great, but offline events can support the local economy, suppliers, artists and staff. We need offline events to build local resilient communities. We want to empower local artists, creatives, and partners to strongly support local communities and initiatives.
A change could be a little bit uncomfortable at the beginning. But if it’s better for the environment it is definitely worth it. If we take care of nature, nature takes care of us.
Next to that, we think that the most exciting discoveries and inspirational moments happen when people unite over music. We want to be an attractive festival to a wide spectrum of diverse backgrounds, combining the best of our global brand power and game-changers in local society.