Circular Festival Plan
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DGTL Amsterdam is a living-lab for future city innovations in the field of green events planning. In 2018, DGTL Amsterdam won The Greener Festival Award. Back in 2017, the festival built on the Material Flow Analysis and later on, applied a resource plan for the first time to make the transition from waste to resources. In 2020, DGTL set the goal to become the first Circular Festival. Unfortunately, with the pandemics, the live event turned digital. On April 11th and 12th, took place the 'DIGITAL DGTL', the world's biggest living room festival.

Description of the tool

In order to make DGTL completely waste free, organizers and their partners made an analysis of the material flows connected to the festival, the provenance of these materials and the way they are processed after the festival. The analysis can be easily done with the help of ‘Material Flow Analysis’ made by Metabolic ( Material Flow Analysis from DGTL festival is visualised in a Sankey diagram (a type of flow diagram in which the width of the arrows is proportional to the flow rate), which can be read from left (input) to right (output) and puts the relative size of the material flows in perspective. Looking at the Material Flow Analysis, we can have an answer to the following questions: Where do the materials that actually could have been reused currently flow? Which material flows have the most impact on the environment? For example, in 2017, the process of mapping out the input materials for DGTL festival had as an outcome the following categories: SANITATION ITEMS FROM VISITORS FOOD STANDS ELECTRONICS STAGES DECORATION BACKSTAGE & BARS TENTS INFRASTRUCTURE & FURNITURE. The output materials were: REUSED (INFRASTRUCTURE & FURNITURE, HUMAN WASTE, TENTS, STAGES and ELECTRONICS), REUSED/DOWNCYCLED (CONSTRUCTION WASTE -WOOD), REUSED/RECYCLED (CONSTRUCTION WASTE- STEEL), INCINERATED (PLASTICS, COARSE COMPANY WASTE, CABLES AND CONCRETE, BACK STAGE & BARS), RECYCLED (PAPER/CARDBOARD, PMD).

Steps of application

After dividing the festival into resource zones, a detailed resource plan could be made for each zone, including the circular food court and the collection of PET bottles that are the raw materials for new bottles. The first step to a waste-free festival begins with the event’s conceptualization. With every decision about physical materials that come to the festival, organizers should ask: What happens to these materials when the festival is over? All rental materials that return to the supplier after the festival are not taken into account, when it comes to design the waste management plan. For the rest of the materials applies the 3-R principle (Lansink’s Ladder): 1. Reduce (or refuse): Is this material really necessary? Can you do without it? 2. Reuse: Can it be replaced by a reusable alternative? 3. Recycle: Can the material be recycled? Green Events Nederland and their partners designed a step-by-step guide of waste and resource management for waste-free festivals. Step 1. Appoint a waste and resources coordinator who is responsible for the cleaning and resources process. Step 2. Ensure that all stakeholders such as personnel, suppliers, caterers, cleaning companies, waste collectors and recycling companies/waste processors become part of this process. Step 3. Make an inventory of both the materials coming into your festival and those which will be left behind as waste (see Template Cleaning & Resources Plan). Step 4. Apply the 3R-principle: Is it necessary, or can you do without it? Is reuse possible? And if not, can it be recycled? Decide which materials can be used and create a monostream where necessary to enable recycling Step 5. Make an inventory of the necessary collection receptacles and make a bin plan (what bins will be located where) and supply these with the correct signage (see template signage Department of Waterways and Public Works). Step 6. Adjust the cleaning schedule according to the above steps. Step 7. The coordinator writes a waste plan, or rather, a plan for resources & cleaning (see Template Cleaning & Resources Plan). Step 8. The coordinator directs the teams and monitors and supervises the process thoroughly before (build-up), during and after (breakdown) the event. Step 9. Make a detailed evaluation and request the waste data from the waste collector.


DGTL Amsterdam is making a sustainable impact on the global festival landscape. DGTL Amsterdam debuted in spring 2013 and now it also organizes editions in Santiago, São Paulo, Barcelona, Tel Aviv and Madrid. With the growing number of festivals and visitors in Netherlands, festival organisers, NederlandSchoon (‘Clean Netherlands’) and the Dutch government joined forces in October 2015, to prevent litter by reducing the waste streams and improving their separation and processing. The approach shifted from waste-free festivals to resource-rich festivals. This was the basis for a circular economy. The ’Lessons learned’ have been brought together in a toolkit by Green Events Nederland and their partners. The toolkit is a guideline for festival organisations to shape the approach ‘From waste to resources’. In 2019, the International Green Deal Circular Festivals was signed by Amsterdam Open Air, Best Kept Secret, Boardmasters, Body & Soul, Boomtown, Down the Rabbit Hole, DGTL, Eurosonic-Noorderslag, Into the Great Wide Open, Lowlands, Mañana Mañana, Milkshake, North Sea Jazz, Roskilde, Shambala, Vierdaagse Feesten, We Love Green and Zwarte Cross. This 5 years project has been initiated by Dutch Government and Green Events. The Green Deal Circular Festivals empowers international frontrunners by enabling the Festival Organisers to take new and ambitious initiatives towards circularity by 2025. The circular festival model developed through this Green Deal will be reproducible for other festivals and events. The model and experiences from this Green Deal can inspire larger-scale initiatives by local authorities and civil society. In its transition towards a circular festival, DGTL Amsterdam strives to: “redefine waste as a resource”, “identify all incoming and outgoing resource flows”, “redesign and reorganise all supply chains”, while “creating new products and services from the remaining resources".

Context of origin

Visual representation


DGTL Amsterdam waste-free festivals. From waste to resources – a Circular Festival Plan Deal Circular Festivals



DGTL Amsterdam