It's that time of year again! Beer tents are popping up like mushrooms and people walk (or shall we say: zig-zag?) around in Dirndls and Lederhosen. The Octoberfest has become a global phenomenon but let's focus on the mothership today: the Wiesn in Munich.
The annual mega festival starts this weekend and 2019 seems to be the perfect year to share a secret only few know: The original Octoberfest in Munich is one of the most sustainable events in the world. Their quest to host an eco-friendly experience started in 1997, years before sustainable event management became a trend. From organic food to a state of the art recycling system, the Wiesn is far more than just a quirky autumn festival.
One of the reasons why the Octoberfest in Munich is leading the way is their Request for Proposal. It's incredibly difficult to secure a spot at the famous Theresienwiese and the competition is tough. To filter through the good, the bad and the inexperienced, Munich implemented an eco-focused RFP. Vendors, food trucks and ferris attractions get extra points if they:
Work with local partners
Reduce Energy and Co2
Have environmentally-friendly practices in place
This initiative led to an array of forward-thinking sustainable event practices that could (and should!) be copied as enthusiastically as the festival itself. Here's how the Octoberfest in Munich tackles the climate challenge:
Everything you eat or drink at the Wiesn in Munich is organic, fair trade and, whenever possible, locally sourced, from the famous Brathendl to the morning-after coffee. Food trucks and tent owners are obliged to work with local farmers and have to offer a wide range of vegetarian and vegan alternatives to reduce Co2. The official Wiesn beer is strictly regulated and made from natural ingredients, including water, hops, malt and yeast, making it 100% vegan. It's even climate-neutral this year!
The electricity at the Wiesn is 100% renewable but that's just where it starts: to get as many RFP eco-points as possible, vendors go above and beyond to reduce their ecological footprint. Beer tents started to install solar panels on their roofs to heat water and almost all attractions (even the famous Ferris wheel) sparkle in energy-saving LED lights. The city of Munich upgraded the street lamps in and around the party zone, reducing their electricity consumption by a staggering 45%.
WASTE & RECYCLING
Disposable plastic tableware has been banned since 1991 and soft drinks are no longer served in cans. Everything is delivered in reusable transport boxes, from food to the famous beer mugs, and a mobile recycling station next to the Theresienwiese takes care of the rest.
Without plastic cutlery in sight, events are in dire need of dishwashers. To reduce their water consumption, beer tents started to divert their rinsing water to the toilets instead of the sewer. That alone saves 7'000 cubic meters of water each year.