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Environmental Impacts Management of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

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Environmental Impacts Management of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

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The sustainability of music festivals is an urgent issue that must be discussed. Without careful consideration of environmental impacts, the short-term economic gain becomes a long-term fiasco. Coachella, the second-largest music festival in the US and the highest-grossing festival in the world, is possible to harm the environment. It provides pressure by bringing a hundred thousands of people at the same time and place. If the festival damages the environment, it will be costly and taking a long time to preserve the ecosystem. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the management of environmental impacts to recognise how a music festival could increase its environmental sustainability. The analysis ascertained qualitatively by using an approach of energy usage, waste generated, and transport emission produced (Fredline et al., 2005).The result shows that much work has been done by Coachella organisers to reduce the environmental impact of the music festival they organised. First, the energy used in Coachella does not have too much impact on the environment because Coachella has applied sustainable energy framework. Next, in term of waste management, Coachella has been trying to minimise waste generated during the event by organising a massive waste sorting program. It can be said that the program has been quite successful at managing waste. Last, emissions produced from transport have the worst impact on the environment because it directly contributes to climate change. Furthermore, the organisers cannot control the number of vehicles used by attendees because this subject is at the preference of each attendee, and the organiser cannot fully control it.
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GADJAH MADA JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES
VOLUME 2 NUMBER 2
56
OCTOBER 2019
Environmental Impacts Management of the
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Anindya Kenyo Larasti
MSc Management and Sustainable Tourism, University of Glasgow, the United Kingdom
Email: nindykenyo@gmail.com
Abstract
The sustainability of music festivals is an urgent issue that must be discussed. Without
careful consideration of environmental impacts, the short-term economic gain becomes a long-term
asco. Coachella, the second-largest music festival in the US and the highest-grossing festival in the
world, is possible to harm the environment. It provides pressure by bringing a hundred thousands
of people at the same time and place. If the festival damages the environment, it will be costly and
taking a long time to preserve the ecosystem. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the management
of environmental impacts to recognise how a music festival could increase its environmental
sustainability. The analysis ascertained qualitatively by using an approach of energy usage, waste
generated, and transport emission produced (Fredline et al., 2005).
The result shows that much work has been done by Coachella organisers to reduce the
environmental impact of the music festival they organised. First, the energy used in Coachella does
not have too much impact on the environment because Coachella has applied sustainable energy
framework. Next, in term of waste management, Coachella has been trying to minimise waste
generated during the event by organising a massive waste sorting program. It can be said that the
program has been quite successful at managing waste. Last, emissions produced from transport have
the worst impact on the environment because it directly contributes to climate change. Furthermore,
the organisers cannot control the number of vehicles used by attendees because this subject is at the
preference of each attendee, and the organiser cannot fully control it.
Keywords: Coachella, music festival, environmental impact, sustainable event
1. Background
Over the decades, tourism has developed to be
one of the fastest-growing industries in the world
(UNWTO, 2018). One of the tourism sectors that
inuence this growth is events, especially music
festivals (Getz, 1997). Music festivals have an
impact on media interest increases, which will lead
to the promotion of the music festival’s location.
It can be used to build destination branding and
destination image globally (Boo and Busser, 2006).
Moreover, it may become a tourism product which
will attract visitor interest and increase the number
of tourists (Bodwin, 2011). Accordingly, music
festivals have grown into a massive industry in
the over past 25 years and became the centre of
music culture around the world (Frith, 2007). The
market for music festivals exploded in 2014. This
is shown by an increase of more than 100% on the
top-grossing events in the world (Rendon, 2018).
There are approximately 110 music festivals in the
US every year (Daisa and Breneman, 2017). With
that number of music festivals, it is no wonder 32
million US citizens attended at least one music
festival each year (Haider, 2019). The attendee’s
number may continue to grow in the future, which
will inevitably harm the environment because it
Larasti - Environmental Impacts Management of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
57
provides pressure by bringing a hundred thousands
of people at the same time and place (Gibson and
Wong, 2011). If the event damages the environment,
it can be costly and taking a long time to preserve
the ecosystem, ora and fauna. Therefore, it is
crucial to assess the environmental impacts to
recognise how music festivals could increase their
environmental sustainability.
In the 2000s, the awareness of the importance
of sustainability, including music festivals, has
been increasing (Scrucca et al., 2016). This
makes comprehensible the research interest in
the assessment on the environmental impacts of
events (Mair and Jago, 2009) to maintain the event
sustainability and to address climate change (Getz,
2010). Another thing that supports the urgency
of conducting this study is that several music
festivals are no longer organised because it harms
the environment. One of the examples is T in the
Park, a music festival in Scotland, which has been
held since 1994. Because of the festival organised
on the surface of an oil pipeline, had severe trafc
issues, and had little awareness to recycling waste
it cancelled for good (Forde, 2015 and T in the
Park, 2016).
Even though several studies have been done,
very little research has been conducted concerning
the music festivals in the US. Most studies discuss
music festivals in the UK and Australia (Glasset,
2014). Thus, this research uses Coachella Valley
Music and Arts Festival (referred to here as
Coachella) in California, the US, as the case
study, with a descriptive approach. The descriptive
approach is common in tourism research because of
the changing nature of the phenomena being studied
(Veal, 2006).
The objective of this research is to examine
how adverse the environmental impact of a music
festival is. Using a case study of Coachella,
this study provides a critical analysis of the
environmental impacts by calculating the carbon
emissions of transport used by the festival (in this
case by visitors only) and analysing the energy
used and waste generated during the festival. It
also examines whether the practice of sustainable
event in Coachella succeeds or not and explored
some recommendations to advance music festivals
development.
2. Theoretical Framework
According to Getz (2010), in terms of tourism, an
‘event’ means a unique temporary phenomenon
which is also an opportunity for leisure, social or
cultural experience outside the normal range of
choice or beyond every experience. It can be formed
of specic rituals, presentations, performance or
celebration that are consciously planned and created
to mark special occasions to achieve particular
social-cultural or corporate goals (Bodwin, 2006).
‘Event tourism’ is a term used mostly in the tourism
literature to describe a destination development
and marketing strategy to realise all the potential
economic benets of events (Getz, 2009). As event
tourism, Coachella is an annual music festival
which provides an opportunity for leisure and has
the chance to improve economics and achieve
particular social or cultural objectives.
Events are being developed as tourist
attractions, and many are catalysts for development,
or the renewal of a destination (Getz, 2009). The
increase in local activity due to event tourism can,
however, cause increased, potentially negative
sustainability impacts – both environmental and
social (Ferdinand, 2017). The increased activity
and resulting impacts, if not managed well, could
ultimately lead to the demise of what attracted
people there in the first place, for example,
over-development and destruction of the natural
environment (Case, 2013). Thus, sustainable event
concept should be applied in every event.
The denition of the sustainable event covers
the economy and social culture and environment
aspects (Getz, 2009). These include destination, site
or venue, local environmental impacts, procurement/
supply chain, waste, energy, transport, water and
sanitation, workforce conditions and engagement
and communication events (Jones, 2018). Fredline
et al. (2004) also used these indicators to evaluate
the environmental impact of an event, to be precise,
the energy use, venue, water consumption and
recycling, and waste generated and recycled. The
focus of this research is the environmental impacts
of the music festival, so aspects that explicitly
discussed are energy, waste and transport.
First, sustainable energy management should
be a priority for all venues and event managers.
Looking for ways to run building more energy-
GamaJTS, Vol. 2 Number 2 October 2019
58
efcient and to provide efcient temporary power
to events will bring about the twin benets of cost-
saving and reduced greenhouse gases (Jones, 2018).
The need for energy causes fossil fuel extraction
and combustion, which is contributing signicantly
to escalating GHGs, which in turn is affecting our
climate to undeniable negative effect (Jones, 2018).
To measure how much is the impact of
energy in an event or festival, the calculation of
the greenhouse gas emission (GHG) that is released
and its source from anywhere must be known.
However, this analysis can be done qualitatively
using the sustainable event management framework
(Jones, 2018) by considering to stop fossil fuel
addiction, reduce energy demand and change
usage habits. The other framework is Measuring
Events Through Environmental Research (METER)
(Boggia et al., 2018) by considering several sub-
categories for the assessment, which includes
environmental certication (presence or absence);
energy classication of the location; and energy
consumption (percentage of electricity saved, share
of energy used comes from renewable sources,
percentage of heating fuels saved, and presence or
absence of generators).
Another assessment procedure for measuring
the environmental sustainability of events is
based on several indicators, combined through
a multi-criteria approach and aggregated into a
nal index, which is called METER (Boggia et
al., 2018). The fundamental inputs for METER
within the evaluation process are the participatory
approach, based on the bottom-up model. Both the
participatory approach and the multi-criteria analysis
are approaches which, as far as we know, have been
used for the time to evaluate event sustainability.
Based on this index, energy consumption is
crucial for event sustainability. In this case, the
sub-categories considered for the assessment are
environmental certication (presence or absence),
which includes typically good practices for the use
of energy; energy classication of the location; and
energy consumption, which includes percentage
of electricity saved, share of energy used comes
from renewable sources, percentage of heating fuels
saved, and presence or absence of generators.
Second, waste management at an event is
also one of the critical issues, especially those
organised to large numbers of attendees in a
fragile environment (Laing and Frost, 2010). If
the organisers can restrict what the attendees are
allowed to bring to the festival and can control the
food and beverages sold and their packaging, they
can inuence the generation of waste and try to
reduce it. Reducing the amount of waste generated
at events is necessary because it reduces the negative
environmental impact. However, as reducing will
be difcult because the waste will continue to be
generating every day, then the thing that needs to
be done is recycling and reusing waste. In another
way, it gives the waste materials a new life and
possibly decreases the demand for raw materials.
By recycling waste in an event, the organisers create
opportunities for educating the attendees about
what people can do to reduce their environmental
impacts (Gellenbeck, 2018).
According to Jones (2018), more specic
committees are needed during the event to apply
sustainable management in waste management,
such as recycling and composting coordinator, bin
stewards, mobile compost stewards, vendor liaison
staff, reclamation team and waste sorters, sponsor
opportunities including producer responsibility
for bottled beverages and bin audit and resource
recovery accounting. Jones also mentions a
detailed list of likely sustainably-related action
items, such as: reviewing existing waste processes
at venue/ site; options for off-site waste removal
and processing; identifying likely waste streams,
especially considering likely procurement and
event activities; ensuring appropriate materials are
used that match possible waste processes available
locally; developing appropriate waste signage if
not provided to ensure correct on-site segregation
for effective disposal; inducting all staff into
waste-management processes on-site; establishing
waste gures collection procedures; and ensuring
measurement. Based on the METER index that
has been explained in the Energy section, above,
waste management in an event should be done by
separate collection. If not managed properly, an
event can generate a large amount of waste, with
adverse effects on the environment for the host
territory (Hottle et al., 2015). The percentage of
recycling for the waste category is considered as the
individual detailed item. It is the separate collection
percentage, compared to the total production of
waste production throughout an event.
Larasti - Environmental Impacts Management of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
59
Last, travel and transport can be one of the
most signicant line items in an event’s greenhouse
gas emissions inventory, with attendee travel often
being the most massive contributor to an event’s
GHG impact (Goldblatt, 2012). At events, there is
a shared responsibility for travel-related impacts
between event attendees, participants, suppliers
and organisers(Case, 2013). It is a murky area,
and regardless of who ultimately owns the impact,
the impacts still occur (Jones, 2018). The cost of
fuel, however, encourages efciency by the supply
chains, meaning reduced GHG intensity from the
materials equipment and food supplied to the event.
Measuring how much GHG is produced at
an event is essential for so many reasons. These
include the responsibility to society to disclose
the event’s impacts, and through measurement to
enable effective management (Case, 2013). There
are wildly varying methods used in measuring
the GHG inventories of events. One of them is
by including the carbon footprint, by going into
details and measuring the CO
2
emissions (Jones,
2018). The GHG Protocol is the most used tool to
measure GHG in an event. The emission factors
used in this tool come from the UK Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s
(IPCC) 2006 Guidelines for National Greenhouse
Gas Inventories (Scrucca, Severi, Galvan and
Brunori, 2016).
To measure GHG in an event, what kind of
transportation is used for travel to the venue and
its number must be known. Each type and size
of vehicle has its carbon emission. Further, the
average of the distance from the attendees’ origin
also must be known because the carbon emission
produced is measured per mile. The nal gure is
given by multiplying this number of vehicles, and
the mileage travelled with the carbon emissions
produced by each vehicle per mile by the emission
factors provided by DEFRA.
Total emission (kg CO2e) =
number of vehicles x distance (miles) x emission per
miles (kg CO2e)
After the measurement of energy, waste
and travel experience that occurs in Coachella are
known, the next step is to analyse the management
of the environmental impacts by using the concept
of Environmental Management Plan (EMP). EMP
should be prepared, which sets out the actions
for monitoring and evaluation of events during
implementation or construction and operation
(Department of Environmental Affairs, 2014).
This should form a fundamental part of the project
specication. It includes mitigation measures to
minimise adverse impacts, measure to enhance
environmental benefits, identified risks and
uncertainties, institutional support required for
effective monitoring, environmental legislation
and standards which apply and resources, funds,
contractual and management arrangements
(Fouracre, 2001). The objectives are to enhance
the ecological benets of the event, to consider the
alternatives to the ideas that should be examined, and
to identify any signicant adverse environmental
effects.
3. Research Method
This study is qualitative research. The analysis of
environmental impacts of a music festival can be
ascertained qualitatively by using an approach of
the energy use, transport, water consumption and
recycling, and waste generated and recycle (Fredline
et al., 2005). This study only used energy usage,
waste generated, and transport emission produced
to analyse the issue. The data used is secondary data
which is taken from previously available material
about music festivals, journal articles, books, event
reports and governmental databases. After the data
was collected, it then divided into several stages to
be analysed. After knowing how much greenhouse
gas emission is produced at Coachella, the last
stage is to analyse how much inuence it has on
the environment and whether there are any efforts
made to minimise it.
4. Research Findings and Discussion
A recent study of environmental impacts of music
festivals shows that energy, waste and attendee’s
travel are the most signicant greenhouse gas
producers (Powerful Thinking, 2015). From the
100% average carbon emissions produced in
music festivals, two-thirds or 80% are generated
GamaJTS, Vol. 2 Number 2 October 2019
60
by attendee travel, which does not include travel
by staffs and artistes. It is then followed by energy,
at 13%, and waste, at 7% (See Figure 1). These
numbers may not be entirely reliable references to
assess the level of environmental impacts of music
festivals, in order to decide how to handle this impact
properly. Accordingly, to understand how much the
impact is on the environment, ndings on energy
usage, waste produced and transportation emission
produced at Coachella are presented in this chapter.
This includes the numbers and the organiser’s effort
to maintain sustainability at Coachella.
Figure 1. Average carbon emission
of music festivals
Source: Powerful Thinking, 2015
4.1 The impact of energy used in Coachella
As a mega festival, which is the sixth-largest in the
world, Coachella needs a massive amount of energy
to run the event. The energy of a music festival
is needed to include lighting, audio, video, bar,
campsite and production ofces (Marchini et al.,
2013). If categorised based on function, the energy
in a music festival is the need for the electricity
that is stage-related, including audio, video, and
lighting; trader-related, including food traders, non-
food traders, bar; and site infrastructure-related,
including production areas, tour buses performers,
and parking areas. Unfortunately, it has not yet
been established how much energy is used during
Coachella and the sources of this energy. So, it
cannot be measured how adverse effects of energy
use in Coachella. However, quite a lot of data was
found regarding the efforts of the organisers to make
some attractions and playing areas to amuse the
attendees and to educate them about Coachella and
how they support the sustainable event.
Nevertheless, Jones (2018) explains that the
energy used at an event can be analysed qualitatively
using the sustainable energy framework. In this case,
Coachella is already trying to commit to reducing
the negative impact on the environment, so they
do exciting projects related to it. The purpose of
doing the project is to make activities fun, but also
to educate the attendees because they use renewable
energy. Based on the projects that have been carried
out, Coachella has implemented two out of three
of the sustainable energy framework, which stops
using fossil fuel and changes usage habits. This
shows that Coachella has tried to make mitigation
efforts to manage environmental impacts.
Since 2004, Coachella has collaborated
with Global Inheritance to make the festival more
environmentally friendly. The rst collaboration
related to energy was the Energy FACTory started
in 2007. It is an interactive museum of energy-
making that uses different instruments to highlight
and educate the attendees about renewable energy
resources. The Energy FACTory teaches the
attendees of how wind, solar, thermal, bio-diesel,
ethanol, kinetic energy, and other sources of energy
can be used as alternative energy, without damaging
the environment. Moreover, this platform makes
the attendees participate and practice how to run
environmentally friendly energy generators. For
example, there are numbers of static bikes which
can charge cell phones and make smoothies by
Figure 2. Energy Factory Human Hamster Wheels.
Source: Paul, 2011
Larasti - Environmental Impacts Management of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
61
pedalling them. Other examples include media
which can power cell phones, camera and iPods at
the same time as the attendees play with it. One of
the exciting media of the Energy FACTory is the
enormous human hamster wheel with the power
to run DJ equipment and its sound systems, as can
be seen in Figure 2. The energy comes from the
kinetic energy of running inside the hamster wheel,
which is converted into electricity. There are no
plugins at all.
The second collaboration that was made
is the Energy Playground, starting in 2010. It is
an improved spin-off of the previous project they
created. It consists of swings, seesaws, bikes,
human hamster wheels and hand cranks. All of
the kinetic energy is gathered into the lithium-ion
battery command centre and stored in the Energy
Well. It is monitorable as electricity ows from the
production devices and the software made tracks
all of the production aspects, including the results
of attendees’ work. It then can power snow cone
machines, mixers, DJ sets and cell phone chargers.
The Energy Playground shows the attendees of
how much physical energy is required to power
something. Further, it introduces the attendees to
some alternative forms of energy while at the same
time, realising the impact that they can make (Rysz,
2018). In 2012, a new exciting project was started
by Global Inheritance. It was a 20-foot-tall replica
of T-Rex, namely Recyclosaurus Rex. A giant
robotic dinosaur was able to chew empty bottles
and then crush them before they were recycled,
as can be seen in Figure 3. It is powered from the
Energy Well gathered at the Energy Playground.
The attendees were able to feed it through its gaping
mouth (Jessie, 2012).
Coachella also partnered with NRG Energy,
a leading integrated power and energy company
in the US. They committed to reducing 90% of
Coachella’s greenhouse gas emissions by making
renewable energy-based and sustainable attractions.
The biggest project they made was the instalment
of 300 solar energy panels to power the festival.
Moreover, they used recycled containers to
power the entire campsite area. Another project they
made was another human hamster wheel which can
power a mini-music festival. The difference with the
one partnered with Global Inheritance was that NRG
Energy recruited social inuencers to tell stories
about these sustainable projects through social
media, such as Instagram and Facebook. They used
the hashtags #CoachellaNRG and #CreatedWith
to spread the message. They considered that the
most effective way to inuence millennials is by
educating them about the importance of renewable
energy through a fun experience in the main media
they use daily. This project also aimed to be the
ultimate draw for attending Coachella in the future
(Whitehouse, 2015). Aside from investing solar
energy at Coachella, NRG Energy also provided a
cool-down station installed with a holographic 3D
stereo experience. It was also powered with solar
energy. The purpose was to entertain the attendees
and introduce NRG Energy’s sustainable services
and projects to the younger generation.
The Energy Factor and Energy Playground
provide several activities which show that
entertainment at Coachella does not use fossil fuel
to run the festival. By using solar and kinetic energy,
DJ sets, phone chargers, mixers and snow cone
machines can be enjoyed by the attendees. This
shows that Coachella has tried to use renewable
energy. The Coachella organisers did this because
the production of CO2e from fossil fuels in the US
has been calculated as the most signicant portion
of emissions over the past ve years, which is
driven by the electric power sector (EPA, 2019).
Moreover, to get fossil fuels, people must be mining
and drilling to expose buried resources and extract
the fuels to the surface. This process impacts the
environment and human health (Holzman, 2011).
Figure 3. Attendee throws empty
bottles to Recyclosaurus Rex
Source: Global Inheritance, 2013
GamaJTS, Vol. 2 Number 2 October 2019
62
Given the fact that Coachella will continue to
be held every year and the energy they need to
conduct entertainment alone will be signicant, the
organisers tried not to use fossil fuels to reduce
the negative impact on the environment. This also
affects the attendees’ concern for the environment.
By knowing that even the smallest amount
of fossil fuel released can produce greenhouse
emissions that can damage the earth, attendees
are considering using renewable energy. Their
involvement in riding a static bicycle to charge
their phone and make juice, then run in a human-
sized hamster ball to power the DJ equipment so
they can enjoy the music, is a good thing because
it means they are willing to contribute to reducing
the greenhouse gas emission at Coachella. Although
in reality, it will be difcult to apply to daily life or
when travelling, with the attendees knowing that
there are many things done related to reducing the
use of fossil fuels, in the future, it will be easier to
implement the use of renewable energy in everyday
life. This is because 200,000 attendees have been
educated about the dangers of the impact of energy
on the environment (Global Inheritance, 2011).
Furthermore, Coachella has also tried to
change usage habits. As is well known, since 2004,
Coachella has been working with Global Inheritance
to reduce the environmental impact of the events
they hold. This collaboration will be carried out
this year. This shows that the organiser is trying
to maintain and positively increase their efforts to
reduce energy use in the festival. Thus, it can be said
that Coachella organisers and attendees are trying
to change their habits to be more consistent in using
renewable energy in the entertainment they provide.
Furthermore, green energy providers, like
Global Inheritance, are progressively being active as
sponsors, partners and exhibitors of some festivals so
that they able to recruit new customers (Getz, 2009).
This is a symbiosis of mutualism for Coachella and
Global Inheritance because it benets both parties.
Coachella benets by no longer using fossil fuels
as its energy source and Global Inheritance benets
from making Coachella introduce environmentally
friendly products. Furthermore, according to EMP,
this collaboration showed that Coachella had
implemented institutional support for effective
monitoring.
Assessed using the METER and EMP
framework (Boggia et al., 2018), it is unknown
whether Coachella has an environmental
certication or not, nor is it known whether the
energy classication is high, medium or low, but
it is known that the energy consumption is not too
large. In detail, the environmental certication
should include good practices for the use of energy
in Coachella. If they have this certication, then
Coachella can be said to have already implemented
a sustainable energy framework proficiently.
Unfortunately, no data was found whether Coachella
has it or not. Therefore, it is also unknown whether
the energy classication in Coachella is high,
medium or low.
However, many international artists like
Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Guns N’ Roses and AC/
DC perform there, and they usually do so with
a massive stage act, so the possibility of energy
classication is high. Finally, with a large number
of performers on the Coachella and the amount of
entertainment provided by organisers, it can be said
that the energy required is quite large. However,
when talking about energy consumption, Coachella
does not use too much power because they use
renewable energy, so there may be some per cent
of electricity saved from it. It is also known that
Coachella is working with NRG Energy to invest
in installing 300 solar energy panels to power the
festival. This allows for the presence of generators
in Coachella which is not usual in many music
festivals.
4.2 The impact of waste generated in
Coachella
Waste becomes a severe problem in almost every
music festival all over the world. Hundred-Thousand
or so people in the same location for several days
will undoubtedly produce a high amount of litter.
It is known that in 2017, 1,612 tons of solid waste
was produced at Coachella. From this number, it
is stated that only 20% can be recycled (Kennedy,
2017). This shows that waste might be an adverse
impact. This will harm the environment, especially
if the solid waste is mishandled. The decomposition
of solid waste of improper handling will become
environmental pollution because it is transformed
into constituent chemicals (Ejaz et al., 2010).
The chemicals will produce methane, which is a
product of bacteria. These bacteria grow in the
Larasti - Environmental Impacts Management of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
63
landll, where solid waste is dumped. Therefore,
if Coachella’s organisers do not handle the solid
waste generated appropriately, it will threaten
the groundwater systems and local surfaces, also
contributing to the enhanced greenhouse gas effect
and climate change (Goorah et al., 2009). If it is said
that only 20% can be recycled, then the solid waste
generated by Coachella is likely to have a direct
negative impact on the environment, especially in
the area of the nal waste disposal site. However,
Coachella has been trying very hard to limit the
amount of waste during the event, especially waste
that can be recycled. There are lots of waste of
items left by attendees so that they can be donated
to some places after clean up. Moreover, as
Coachella partnered with Global Inheritance, they
did projects to ease the recycling process after the
festival nished and to minimise adverse impacts
by mitigation actions.
The most highlighted project was TRASHed,
introduced in 2004. TRASHed is an art and
creativity program for painting and decorating
trash bins to make them look attractive, as can see
from Figure 4 below. Over 45 artists were invited
and challenged to transform regular trash bins into
masterpieces. It was then displayed at Coachella
to encouraged attendees to recycle. The trash bins
have several functions: as aesthetic enhancers; as
waste disposal: and also to encourage the attendees
to sort the waste they are going to dispose of. Above
the trash bins, there is information that shows
whether the bin is for disposing of plastic, papers,
cans, glass, or food waste (Jessie, 2012). This shows
that Coachella has implemented the environmental
legislation and waste separated standards which
apply, as stated in the EMP concept. Coachella also
has a designated staff group that help attendees
to sort out waste if they are confused, as a form
of institutional support required for effective
monitoring. In addition to informing them regarding
the classication of waste, this group also provides
knowledge regarding waste, if there are attendees
who ask why waste must be separated (Kennedy,
2010).
After the festival is over, the bins were
donated to museums and schools. In 2019, the bins
were donated to schools in Mexicali and Tijuana.
It is also stated that not only artists can participate
in transforming trash bins into art, but also schools
and members of the public. The participant needs to
register directly with Coachella. Selected schools
and individuals create their own designed trash
bin that will be displayed at Coachella 2020. In
exchange, they will also receive a collection of
Coachella past bins and will be gifted with some
merchandise care packages that teachers can
incorporate into their curriculum to inspire students
to go above and beyond their responsibilities to
reduce their school’s carbon footprint (Coachella,
2019).
Figure 4. TRASHed in Coachella
Source: Coachella, 2019
Another highlighted program of Coachella in
managing waste is the Recycling Store, can see from
Figure 5 below. It encourages the attendees to collect
empty bottles and cans to trade in for free water or
points which can be exchanged with merchandise
and prizes, including Coachella tee-shirts, tote bags,
rellable bottles, posters, sweatshirts, Ferris wheel
tickets and even VIP upgrades. The mechanism of
this trade is handing over ten bottles, known as
10-for-1 bottle exchange, to the staff. This method
is benecial to help collect empty bottles and cans
that are scattered in the festival area. Since 2014,
over 6 million recyclables have been saved. This
program encouraged the attendees not to walk away
from picking up scattered trash around them, and is
expected to inuence them when they are outside
the festival. Furthermore, as mentioned in the
energy usage section, Coachella has a programme
named the Recyclosaurus Rex. This programme can
be called a mitigation activity helps the recycling
process and minimise the adverse impacts of waste.
The attendees crush the plastic bottles, so it helps
GamaJTS, Vol. 2 Number 2 October 2019
64
speed the recycling process along (Coachella,
2019); Rysz, 2018; and Global Inheritance, 2015).
Figure 5. Attendees at the Recycle
Store to exchange 10-for1 Bottle
Source: Global Inheritance, 2010
Other waste, which is still in good condition,
is donated to several charity centres. One of these
is the Galilee Center, a charity combating poverty
in California (Bostock, 2019). It provides shelter to
those in need, includes migrant farmworkers. The
donations from Coachella help them a lot. In April
2019, this charity centre received three truckloads
of items which were donated and abandoned by
the attendees. These include tents, sleeping bags,
canopies, chairs, backpacks, clothes and even non-
perishable food that had not been eaten (Hayden,
2019). Some of the items will be sold at the centre’s
thrift shop at low prices. The prot will be used as
an addition to operating the shelter. This shows that
Coachella made a signicant effort to be sustainable
and applies the management arrangements from the
EMP concept.
The impact of events on the environment
is lesser if the organisers apply a waste planning
framework (Gellenbeck et al., 2018) a sustainable
waste management framework (Jones, 2018)
and the METER index on waste (Hottle et al.,
2015). These include planning before, during
and after the event, providing designated staff
groups during the event and separate collection.
Based on these three frameworks, Coachella has
done most of the necessary preparation. Before
the festival, Coachella creates a team consisting
of recycling and composting coordinators, bin
stewards, mobile compost stewards, liaison vendor
vendors, reclamation teams and waste sorters and
sponsorship opportunities including producer
responsibility for bottled beverages. These various
designated staff groups have different tasks, such as
determining which bins for waste will be provided
at the venue, which artists will decorate and paint
the bins, creating education boards to be installed
on the bins (or the area around the bin) and deciding
where the waste goes after the event is over. The
result obtained from the designated staff groups
is well-organised waste during the event, so it is
infrequent to see garbage scattered in the venue.
Also, with the bins being painted and decorated
very attractively, attendees are motivated to separate
the waste based on the categories given.
Another motivation for the attendees to
not litter and help to pick up trash is because of a
programme known as 10-for-1, where attendees can
exchange ten empty plastic bottles with several gift
options. This is efcient because otherwise, the staff
have a hard time collecting many plastic bottles
scattered at the festival venue. At the Glastonbury
Festival in 2017, around 1,000 volunteers were
needed to clean up the accumulated waste, and it
took up to 4 weeks. Moreover, the organisers of
the Glastonbury Festival also spent £785,000 on
cleaning fees because of the accumulated waste
that contaminated the land at the venue (Vonow,
2017). So, the 10-for-1 programme helps Coachella
organisers a lot; also it is a win-win solution for
assisting the organisers and attendees who get
rewards and education related to the waste disposal
in their place and sorted according to their respective
categories.
4.3 The impact of transport emission to
Coachella
It is known that as many as 36,502 vehicles were
used to attendees to Coachella in 2016 (Meridian
Consultants, 2016). This allows for adverse impacts
on the environment. As shown in Table 1 below, the
majority of vehicles used were cars, which were
not only cars for personal use, but also cars for
lift share (Carpoolchella) and in the form of public
transportation such as taxis, Uber and PUDO, which
are used for transfers to locations from airports,
train stations and bus stations. The reason the
attendees use their car is that it is more exible and
Larasti - Environmental Impacts Management of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
65
effective, especially for attendees who are initially
from the US or are travelling with family and carry
lots of luggage to take. Although some admit that
using their car will drain quite a lot of time and
energy because trafc jams often occur, attendees
state that using their car is very practical. If each
car can accommodate four people, the number of
attendees who use a car is 146,012 or 73.74% of
the total attendees in 2016, which is 198,000. This
gure exceeds the average number of attendees in
the UK who use cars, which is only 16% of the total
attendees (Powerful Thinking, 2017). Thus, around
51,988 attendees use transportation other than cars,
such as trains and buses. The number of attendees
who walked or used bicycles was not included as
well because the number is still tiny.
Table 1. Amount of vehicles used
to reach Coachella in 2016
Type of vehicles Amount
Day parking 12,506
Shuttle n/a
Uber/Taxi/PUDO 3,485
Walk/Bike n/a
Car camping 13,412
Tent camping 569
Companion camping 1,290
Staff vehicle 5,242
Total amount 36,502
Source: Meridian Consultants, 2016
Based on the amount of vehicle used to reach
Coachella in 2016, it is known that car camping has
the most signicant number, which is 13,412 cars.
This shows that most attendees are comfortable to
drive their car and take it for camping at Coachella.
These cars that have been parked in the car camping
area are rarely taken out, because it is quite
complicated to get out of the camping spots that
have been arranged in such a way as to maximise
space, and then park again and re-arrange them. This
is in contrast to day parking. The 12,506 cars used
to travel to Coachella can only be parked during the
festival and must exit the parking area at night until
the next day when the parking area has reopened.
Thus, the attendees who have a day parking pass
must nd a parking space and a place to stay outside
the venue, which can be quite far away. This also
affects the increase in the number of greenhouse
gas emissions produced because many cars have
to be driven several times during the 3-6 days of
the event. Likewise, with Uber/ Taxi/ PUDO, these
vehicles also have the potential to increase the
amount of carbon emission because they continue
to be ordered by the attendees to reach the venue
and place where they live because the attendees do
not have access to camping at Coachella. There are
also the committee vehicles, which of course will
often be used to meet the needs for the running of
the festival.
Table 2. Origin of attendees in 2016
Origin Percentage
Local 4%
Region 52%
State-wide Area 16%
US 16.50%
International 11.50%
100%
Source: Meridian Consultants, 2016
As can be seen in Table 2 above, of the total
100% attendees of Coachella, those coming from
California Region ranked rst place, at 52%. The
Region includes Los Angeles, San Diego, San
Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, and Sacramento.
The second biggest origin is from the US as a
whole, with a percentage of 16.5%. It followed
with attendees who come from state-wide areas,
at 16%; international, at 11.50%; and the local
attendees, at 4%. By knowing where attendees
to Coachella came from, the difference between
the departure location of attendees to Coachella
will also be recognised. This will then be used to
calculate how much greenhouse gas emissions are
produced at Coachella through the transportation
used by attendees. As explained in the literature
review, calculating how much greenhouse gas
emission is generated by vehicles is by multiplying
the number of vehicles with the distance travelled
and the carbon emissions produced by each vehicle
per mile.
GamaJTS, Vol. 2 Number 2 October 2019
66
Based on the report, it can also be stated
that each of the attendees’ origin includes three
different distances, with its percentages, except
those originating from the local area. As can be seen
in Table 3 below, the percentage of attendees whose
origin is from the California Region is 52%. Of that
percentage, 10% come from areas with a distance of
60 miles, 45% come from areas with a distance of
120 miles, and 45% come from areas with a distance
of 180 miles. Attendees originating from State-wide
Areas, the whole US and international areas, have
almost the same ratio between percentage and
distance. 30% of each category come from areas
with a distance of 22 miles, 35% come from areas
with a distance of 90 miles, and 35% come from
areas with a distance of 145 miles.
Table 3. Distance and percentage of
attendees from each origin in 2016
Origin
The
percentage
of total
origin
Distance
(miles)
The
percentage
from each
origin
Local 4% 22
Region 52%
60 10%
120 45%
180 45%
State-wide
Area
16%
22 30%
90 35%
145 35%
US 16.5%
22 30%
90 35%
145 35%
International
11.5%
22 30%
90 35%
145 35%
Source: Meridian Consultants, 2016
Furthermore, to do the calculation, it is
necessary to know how much carbon emission is
produced by each vehicle per mile and how adverse
is the impact of transportation. However, due to
the limited data related to the amount of emission
produced by a vehicle per mile in the USA, the
calculation of greenhouse gas emission is carried
out using the UK Government GHG Conversion
Factors (2018). The scope of the factors is dened
such that it is relevant to emission calculation.
Based on the conversion factor, it is known that
the vehicles in each type have the same greenhouse
gas emissions, excepting walk/ bike. This is due to
the similar size of the vehicle, which is the average
car. The amount of emission is 0.28572 kg CO
2
e per
mile (Department of Business, Energy & Industrial
Strategy, 2018). Calculations on the shuttle and
walk/ bike cannot be done because there are no
known numbers.
The calculation of total emission was done
by multiplying the numbers of how many vehicles
are used to travel to Coachella, how many miles are
the distance, and how much emission is issued per
mile. All vehicles were calculated except for shuttle
and walk/ bike because there is no recorded number.
Table 4 below is the result of the total calculation
of each vehicle used to travel to Coachella.
Table 4. Total emissions of all vehicles to Coachella
Type of vehicles Total emissions
(kg CO2e)
Day parking 405,041
Uber/Taxi/PUDO 112,811
Car camping 434,151
Tent camping 18,418.7
Companion camping 41,757.8
Staff vehicle 169,685
Grand total 1,181,864.50
Source: Adapted from Meridian Consultants
(2016) and Department of Business, Energy
& Industrial Strategy of the UK (2018)
The total greenhouse gas emissions are
1,181,864.50 kg CO2e, equivalent to 1,182 metric
tons of CO2e. This gure is equal to 251 average
passenger vehicles driven for one year or 2,889,644
miles (Environmental Protection Agency, 2019).
The number is also equivalent to 142 homes’ energy
Larasti - Environmental Impacts Management of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
67
use for one year and 206 homes’ electricity use
for one year. So it can be said that greenhouse gas
emission from transportation is high. However,
when compared to the average emissions of a large
music festival in the United Kingdom, Coachella’s
emissions number is slightly lower. Emissions
produced at music festivals in the United Kingdom
are 1,731 metric tons of CO2e, including cars, train
and coach travels, logistics trucks and tour buses
(Bottrill et al., 2007). Even though this number is
higher, compared to Coachella, which does not
include logistic trucks and tour buses, the emissions
produced in Coachella may be higher. Moreover,
the gure does not include aeroplanes, trains and
buses used by attendees to reach locations. If added
to the carbon emission produced by attendees using
aeroplanes, buses and trains, the number will be
higher, and the impact on the environment will be
even worse.
According to Rodrigue (2017), the direct
impact on the environment that can be felt is from
noise and carbon monoxide emissions. Next,
the indirect impact of transportation is linked to
respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Lastly, the
most dangerous is the cumulative impacts, which is
the contribution to climate change. 22% of global
CO2 emissions are attributed to transportation. In
the US, the use of transportation contributes almost
30% of all global warming emissions, rivalling the
power sector (Energy Information Administration,
2016). For example, this will lead to oods due to
rising sea levels, smog, acid rain, and decreased
air quality due to climate change (DEFRA, 2010).
Nonetheless, having hundreds of thousands
of cars in Coachella, and music festivals, in general,
cannot be avoided. So the efforts and mitigations that
can be done by the organisers are to give rewards
to attendees who are willing to provide a ride to
other attendees, if the car they drive is not yet full,
through the Carpoolchella program (See Figure 6).
This shows that Coachella has identied the risks
and uncertainties of the impacts of transportation.
Also, the organiser tried to do institutional support
with the attendees for effective monitoring. Thus,
this programme is carried out to maximise the
existing space in the car so that carbon footprint
is shared with more people. The rules are the cars
should be lled with minimum four, and there
should be a sign for Carpoolchella so that people
who wanted to take a ride would easily recognise it.
The attendees are also encouraged to decorate the
car to make it look attractive, as can see from Figure
6. Attendees participating in this project will get
the chance to win prizes such as Coachella Passes
for life VIPs, guest backstage passes, VIP pass
upgrades, $50 Coachella merchandise vouchers,
Ferris wheel vouchers and $20 food vouchers
(Global Inheritance, 2015).
Figure 6. Carpoolchella
Source: Coachella, 2019
One of the best examples of good practice
of transportation is the Glastonbury Festival, where
bus package tickets are available in several cities
in the UK. Ticket packages by bus are available
from as far away as Scotland (over 360 miles to
the border) (Glastonbury Festival, 2018). Thus,
it is possible if Coachella’s organiser also makes
the same package because, in 2016, the attendees
came from the California Region dominated with
52% [See Table 2]. For example, the organiser can
sell bus ticket packages from Los Angeles and San
Diego, which are only 130 miles away from the
venue. Glastonbury’s bus package tickets are sold
earlier than the event only ticket. This encourages
attendees to use public transportation to reach the
festival venue. Glastonbury Festival is the biggest
and most popular music festival in the UK. Thus
this package ticket runs out in less than 30 minutes
after sales begin (Heal, 2018).
If the organiser can provide more buses, the
number of attendees who use private vehicles, such
as cars, will be reduced, which will directly reduce
greenhouse gas emissions as well. This view was
supported by a research conducted by A Greener
Festival and Buckinghamshire New University,
GamaJTS, Vol. 2 Number 2 October 2019
68
which stated that 74% of people who joined the
survey were willing to take public transportation
to reach a festival venue, especially if the organiser
included the travel cost in the festival ticket. This
makes it easier for the attendees to reach the site
with less greenhouse gas emissions (A Greener
Festival, 2008). Thus, encouraging the attendees to
use public transportation and car-sharing will help
reduce the carbon footprint. However, this subject is
at the preference of each attendee, and the organiser
cannot fully control it.
5. Conclusion
Music festivals have become one of the areas
within the tourism sectors that are proliferating.
However, bringing many people to festival venues
will inevitably harm the environment around it.
Consequently, assessing the environmental impacts
of festivals are essential, to nd out how adverse
these impacts are. Coachella was chosen as a case
study because very few studies have been conducted
regarding music festivals in the US. However, the
data found is quite limited, which leads to the
limitation of this study.
The ndings show that much work has
been done by Coachella organisers to reduce the
environmental impact of the event they organise.
They have taken mitigation measures to minimise
adverse impacts, measures to enhance environmental
benets, identied risks and uncertainties, done
some institutional support for monitoring and
implementing environmental legislation and
standards as part of the Environmental Management
Plan concept.
The energy used in Coachella does not have
too much of an adverse impact on the environment.
This is because the entertainment that they hold
is generated through renewable energy, such as
from solar energy and kinetic energy. By not using
fossil fuels and involving attendees to power the
festival, Coachella has applied sustainable energy
framework.
Solid waste produced at Coachella is quite
high, and only a few of it can be recycled. This
does harm the environment. However, in the most
recent years, Coachella has been trying to minimise
the waste generated by organising a massive waste
sorting program, so it is easy to recycle and reuse
after the event. Moreover, they donated items
left by the attendees, which are still feasible to
use. It can be said that Coachella has been quite
successful at managing waste so that the impact on
the environment is not too high.
Emissions emitted from transportation have
the worst impact on the environment. This is because
the organisers cannot control the number of vehicles
used by attendees. The only thing that they can
do is give rewards to attendees who are willing to
provide a ride to other attendees if the car is not full.
Carbon emission produced from transportation has
a signicant impact on the environment because it
directly contributes to climate change and decreased
air quality. The greenhouse gas produced is quite
large, even though it does not include GHG from
several other vehicles such as coaches, trains and
aeroplanes.
To sum up, the running of Coachella every
year gives an adverse impact on the environment.
Based on the results of the analysis carried out, the
most signicant impact on the environment comes
from emissions produced from transportation,
then followed by waste generated and energy
usage. However, because the event will continue
to be held every year, the organisers will look to
improve existing programs to reduce the impact
on the environment, as part of mitigation action
and developing new campaigns to connect with
the wider attendee (Global Inheritance, 2015).
Practically, there is a need for the organisers to
continuously innovate in renewable energy and
encourage the attendees to dispose of garbage in
the bin, according to their respective categories,
and encourage them to use public transportation
instead of private cars. Moreover, this can be
supported by the provision of event tickets, which
include transportation tickets from several cities
in the US because attendees who use the most
cars are those who live in the US. Furthermore,
it is crucial to encourage every organiser to make
the environmental report of their music festival
accessible to the public, so that many people are
aware of the ecological impacts. Academically,
further research is required to critically examine the
environmental impact of music festivals in the US.
A critical and detailed study on the environmental
impact of the music festival has become an essential
foundation for developing sustainable events.
Larasti - Environmental Impacts Management of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
69
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