Milwaukee's near-zero waste music festival, Rock the Green, set a new benchmark for achieving near-zero waste in its first year. The festival merged entertainment and interactive sustainability experience with a spotlight on green practices and technologies never before utilized at a large scale music festival. The sustainable methods enabled 92 percent of the waste generated at the event to be reduced, reused or recycled.
"Veolia Environmental Services is proud to have helped Rock the Green pioneer these new standards in near-zero waste festival goals, and we look forward to increasing these efforts next year," said Jim Long, president and chief executive officer of Veolia's solid waste division for North America. "We strive to help communities maximize recycling, minimize waste and reduce consumption, and this festival set a gold standard for doing just that."
The festival was sponsored by Veolia Environmental Services and headlined by The Fray, Ben Folds, Fitz and the Tantrums, Michelle Branch, Parachute, and local Milwaukee favorite, Evan Christian.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an event with a similar number of attendees could potentially generate up to 3.5 tons of waste materials. By comparison, Rock the Green only sent 440 pounds to the landfill – the equivalent of just 10 traditional trashcans of garbage.
According to a press release, the event utilized one of a kind composting and recycling systems, commercial disposals from InSinkErator and recycled banner systems from Big Systems of Milwaukee to help reduce waste.
Additional energy was saved by Team Velocause, a competitive cycling team that provided pedal power to offset the electricity used in one entire interactive area of the festival. Team Velocause riders generated 9.6 kWh of pedal power based on 0.2kWh provided by 16 riders at three hours each.
Net proceeds from the festival will benefit the Urban Ecology Center, and The Park People of Milwaukee County, which advocates the preservation and management of the Milwaukee County Park System.
"Rock the Green succeeded in providing world-class entertainment while minimizing our environmental impact," said Lindsay Stevens Gardner, founder and executive director, Rock the Green. "We're proud to make a lasting impact on the community that spans well beyond the festival, and look forward to holding the event again next year."