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Rock the Green Sustainability Festival Achieves 100% Zero Waste

The Rock the Green Sustainability Festival achieved its goal of being a 100% Zero Waste festival, with 99 percent of waste stream going to compost (thanks to Compost Crusader & Blue Ribbon Organics) and recycling, and 100 percent of festival food scraps processed in Rock the Green’s proprietary food grinding stations and processed into Milorganite by Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

At the 2017 festival, only 25 pounds (less than 0.5 percent of total waste) of unrecyclable/uncompostable waste was produced, compared to 440 lbs. the year before. Covanta upcycled this small remnant of 25 lbs. into energy.

The bottom line is: Rock the Green produced zero waste!

On-site solar powered energy was used to run the Eco-Kids Stage. The Pedal Power provided by local cycling groups supplied kinesthetic energy to the Pedal Power Stage, and bio-diesel fuel was used to run the main stage and festival grounds.

“This festival has a sustainable picnic kind of vibe,” said Chris Baio, bass player for Vampire Weekend and one of the artists performing on the main stage. “Rock the Green is something truly special. All festivals should be like this.”

“At Rock the Green, less is most certainly more,” said Lindsay Stevens, Founder and Executive Director of Rock the Green. “Thanks to our leadership team and many community partners, we’ve been able to incorporate insights gleaned from past years and increasingly reduce our environmental footprint.”

Rock the Green, named one of the greenest music festivals in the nation, continually stresses the four Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (celebrating the composting efforts that occurred on site). The mission of Rock the Green was met -- providing world class music and education about ways to live more sustainably throughout the community. This model has proven to draw festival attendees, world-class bands and sponsors wishing to elevate their sustainability profile among target audiences.

“Milwaukee is becoming a world-class eco-city, and Rock the Green’s relentless commitment to demonstrating practical solutions that work for everyone in ways that are both creative and entertaining is a big part of that,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “The groundswell of support for Rock the Green from the public and private sectors is further indication that Milwaukee is emerging as a national leader in a variety of sustainability areas,” Barrett added.

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