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 to close material loops, eliminate CO2 emissions and increase environmental awareness. In this way, DGTL serves as a living-lab for future city innovations.  

In 2020, the festival will refine some of its circular best-practices of 2019, while also kicking off new sustainability projects. During the Easter weekend, DGTL Festival will continue to blaze the trail for sustainable and circular events at the NDSM-Wharf in Amsterdam. 


Food has an enormous impact on the environment with reports stating that 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions are emitted by the food and agriculture sector – even more alarmingly, of all this food produced ⅓ is thrown away annually. We wanted to change this – in addition to turning all our organic waste into compost, we flipped our menu creation by basing it on food residues available to us from local food chains. By removing meat from the menu, DGTL Festival has drastically reduced CO2-emissions and saved large amounts of freshwater and land. 



We came, we danced, we left. Well, not quite. In 2019, we decided to give something back to the local community of the NDSM-Wharf. Together with NDSM based artist Paul Timmer, three students of the master’s program MADE, designed a circular and modular object that served as festival lightening during the Easter weekend and was reshaped to serve an urban function after the end of the festival.


It didn’t stop there. For the first time ever, we hosted artists in Amsterdam’s circular hotel Jakarta. The hotel has an energy neutral building, making this one of the most sustainable hotels in The Netherland. As for transportation, all artists were transported in electric vehicles to and from the festival grounds.


One of the most visible components of the Sustainability plan was the introduction of the hardcup-system. Visitors no longer got 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 2019 for example, we installed a number of batteries powered by solar energy to run a complete stage. In 2019 we ran the festival on green batteries using the power grid of NDSM and with only a few back-up generators, we nearly reached a climate neutral energy system.


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 2019 below and read about it in this publication by Metabolic.


As we strive to be the world’s first circular dance festival, we have developed new innovations to ensure that there is no place for waste . One major way in which we tackled this was by making a radical change to alter visitor and crew behavior. We said goodbye to trash bins and swapped them for four ‘Resource Collection Points’: recycle hubs where people were encouraged to dispose of their resources in the right stream. By eliminating traditional waste bins, our residual waste was reduced by 50% compared to the previous year. 


This year, we attempted to expand our sustainability efforts beyond the borders of the festival and making other companies waste-streams to new use. Ace & Tate is a company that are highly aware of their environmental impact and strives to improve current processes as well as creating circular products. Their ambition is to become a driver for change in the eyewear industry. With 15 000 ‘end-of-life’ lenses from Ace & Tate, ATM Model Art created a massive installation at DGTL Amsterdam. The lenses are a combination of returns, wrongly coloured lenses and demo-lenses. After the festival, the artwork will live on at other global destinations for future exhibitions.


More innovations tested its grounds during DGTL. As previous year, we teamed  up with Innofest to give three innovators the chance to test their cases at the festival: Litti, Calix, and Mobiele Stroom.

At festivals there will be smokers, and some of these smokers throw their cigarette butts on the ground. Students from NHL University of Applied Sciences therefore developed the Litti, an ashtray and lighter in one developed by students from NHL University of Applied Sciences. Peukenzee developed a cigarette pack holder that also serves as an ashtray. Where the Litti is ready for a larger public test, the development of Peukenzee is still at a much earlier stage and will test on a smaller scale whether their prototype solves the cigarette problem. The Litti was tested at the festival at a large scale in an attempt to minimize the littering.

Besides the Litti, DGTL pilotted Calix, a 3D-printed cup holder for festival goers. And thirdly, DGTL also tested an innovation of Mobiele Stroom, which uses compressed natural gas to generate energy, heat up tents and warehouses, and circulate and ventilate spaces. By doing so, the festival reduced a great amount of CO2-emissions. We can’t wait to dance in areas heated up with green energy!