DGTL is highly aware of its environmental impacts and has one very clear goal; to become the world’s first circular festival in 2020. To meet this goal, the festival fundamentally redesigns its event. All year round, DGTL searches for the latest technological breakthroughs and innovations to close material loops, eliminate CO2 emissions and increase environmental awareness.


One of the most visible components of the Sustainability plan is the introduction of the hardcup-system. Visitors no longer get drinks served in traditional disposable softcups, but in a reusable hardcup. This not only saves a huge amount of plastic waste, but also makes visitors reflect on their current “linear” behavior (take-make-waste) and it presents a new perspective on reusing precious resources.


Regarding energy, we do not shy away from the challenges of the energy transition, in fact, we embrace them. DGTL Festival always works with a smart energy plan, maximizing the consumption of energy from the power grid and other renewable sources. At DGTL Amsterdam 2018 for example, we installed a number of batteries powered by solar energy to run a complete stage.


The consumption of meat had a significant influence on DGTL’s carbon footprint. Scientific research has shown that the emissions from the meat-industry account for nearly 18% of total carbon emissions worldwide, creating a larger environmental impact than the earth’s entire transportation industry. By removing meat from the menu, DGTL Festival has drastically reduced CO2-emissions and saved large amounts of freshwater and land.


But the “sustainable big three” is not where we stop and stand still. Our festivals have perfectly defined boundaries and are very similar to cities, as our visitors need drinks, food, electricity, sanitary facilities and shelter. This makes them perfect testing grounds for sustainable and circular technologies of tomorrow. As a result, the DGTL Amsterdam edition always pushes the boundaries of sustainability at festivals by experimenting with state-of-the-art innovations.


The most important component of any sustainability strategy is the baseline measurement or analysis. Chasing change without knowing having clear overview of the event’s impacts is highly inefficient. Therefore, in 2017 we introduced the Material Flow Analysis (MFA) to the festival industry, providing a clear snapshot of the event’s metabolism: the resource flows that enter and exit the festival, and the different kinds of impacts these flows are associated with. The MFA quantifies the flows of materials, energy, and water that flow through the festival. Check out the MFA of DGTL Amsterdam 2018 below and read about it in this publication by Metabolic.

At DGTL Amsterdam 2018, waste became the resource for new products. As such, we moved away from waste collection areas, which are typically tucked away behind the scenes, to a “Resource Street”, which is central for all visitors to see. The Resource Street consisted of a recycle hub and a new technique called pyrolysis. The recycle hub works to separate all visitor waste, so the new “resources” can be picked up for further use. The pyrolysis installation turns bottle caps into oil, which in turn can be used to make new plastic. The most valuable component of the Resource Street is that it allows visitors to discover the value of their own waste and change the narrative from “waste as a problem” to “resources as a solution”.

Design for disassembly is a process by which products are designed with ease of assembly and disassembly in mind. It is rooted in DGTL’s DNA, the festival even named one of its stages “modular”. Last year, a large art installation was completely circular, meaning that it was made of recycled wood made into pallets. After the festival, all the pallets were collected by a new owner, for a new project.

One of 2018’s innovations was the Semilla Sanitation Hub in collaboration with Innofest. Inside this 40ft shipping container, our tech-team converted urine into drinking water using pioneering technologies. The Semilla sanitation hub could prove to be a true lifesaver during crisis situations, focusing on providing clean drinking water in disastrous areas. Also, when miniaturized, the technology could be implemented in residential housing or self-sustaining communities.

IN 2017, DGTL partnered up with Next Nature Network to introduce “The ECO Coin”. The world’s first ecological currency. With this new digital currency, DGTL rewarded all visitors for their sustainable actions. By participating in one of the many Revolution projects or workshops, DGTL’s festivalgoers could earn ECOs. In turn, their ECOs unlocked special rewards like free sustainable food, music-downloads, unique products, discounts and even access to the ‘TBA-secret area’.

Human breath contains heat and carbon dioxide, valuable resources for young algae. Lying down under the specimen-table, in 2017 visitors donated their time and breath to the algae above them. In return, the algae nourished the visitors in the shape of a fresh algae shot or smoothie.

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