Communal dancefloor energy at one of
the world's most sustainable music festivals.

No more excuses: sustainability is the only way forward.

One of the most sustainable festivals in the world.

We are optimists, and we think the future can be bright if we put in the effort. We must take sustainability seriously, knowing that a music event can negatively impact the surrounding air, soil, water, resources, and inhabitants. That's why we think it's important to lead by example, improve ourselves year after year, and know that we still have a long way to go.

This year, Paradise City was lauded as the world's most sustainable music festival at the International AGF Awards, which recognize the most innovative and impactful efforts towards sustainability across various categories, including power, water, food, travel, and community. We distinguished ourselves by excelling in all these domains, earning the highest accolades for its tireless commitment to environmental stewardship and progressive initiatives.

For more details and data about our sustainability efforts, we kindly direct you to CO2 Logic's extensive reporting here.

Through socially responsible entrepreneurship, we strive to achieve our vision by inspiring our visitors and partners to take action in their own lives and communities, ultimately leading to a more sustainable future for all.

We focus on three main drivers:

01. 7 key pillars

Maximizing the sustainability of seven key pillars, including travel and transport, energy, food and drinks, materials, water, nature and environment and community.

02. Data

Gathering and analyzing data to understand our ecological footprint and identify areas for improvement.

03. Awareness

Creating awareness and influencing our stakeholders to live more sustainably by providing the most sustainable festival experience possible.

01

Green Mobility Plan

Since the carbon emissions from visitor, supplier and artist transport will remain a massive chunk of our ecological footprint, travel is a crucial link in our sustainability ambitions. After all, this accounted for a whopping 93% of our total carbon emissions last summer. Since 2022, we initiated a dedicated green mobility plan in 2022, introducing a night train schedule and promoting train travel to minimise the share of visitors coming to Perk by car.

Of the 43.000 total visitors in 2023, 20,5% traveled by train. Night train destinations include cities like Brussels, Antwerp, Mechelen, Ghent, Leuven and Hasselt. By 2025, we hope we reach the benchmark of 30% of visitors who travel by train. Last summer, the percentage of visitors who travel by car decreased from 47% to 35%. 

Clearly, it makes sense for us to continue the promotion of train travel, finding new ways to facilitate and make this option more attractive. That’s why we invested in a better electric shuttle bus service between the festival site and Vilvoorde’s train station, with the help of our local mobility partners Brussels Airport and NMBS/SNCB. On the other hand, parking fees will remain relatively high (at €15 for a day and €25 for the weekend), discouraging car travel. Visitors who do not carpool (less than 2 persons) will receive an extra parking fee of €5.

Regarding artist travel, our booking team remains committed to only booking international artists who are already touring Europe to limit air travel. Additionally, we will continue to promote Belgian artists on our lineup (standing at 40% in 2022) – not just because they don’t travel by airplane, but because we believe in our local music scene too. Transport between the festival and the airport, hotel or train station is exclusively done by electric vehicles.

02

Green Power Plan

At the heart of Paradise City's green efforts is the Contrast Stage, which was 99.22% powered by solar energy. This remarkable achievement is credited to the Eneco Solar Island, seamlessly blending music, a chill-out zone, and renewable energy. In total, we ramped up the total surface of solar panels on-site to an impressive 435m2, of which more than half were used to power the Contrast Stage. Another big chunk of the total solar energy share was primarily used for the production zone. The large 170m2 solar panel near the Castle Stage was plugged into the festival’s power grid.

Additional measures limiting our need for energy include:

  • We work with a smart power plan. This includes an algorithm that controls our generators to minimize surplus energy consumption. 

  • All light sources on our festival site use LED technology.

03

Food & Drinks

In 2021, Paradise City set up a Food truck Agreement that every supplier has to sign, ensuring the use of local and seasonal products. Our own food truck manager is closely involved in creating each menu with organic ingredients upfront and provides help to make the necessary changes. All the same applies to the food suppliers at the campsite, comfort area and artist village.

Since offering meat does not align with our green philosophy, the 2023 edition was the first Paradise City with a completely vegetarian food offer (in 2022, there was one food truck that served fish). As a result, we managed to lower the average carbon emissions of each dish sold to 0.42 kgCO2 - all of which was transparently communicated to visitors through our CO2 calculator at our food court. With this information, hungry dancers could easily see how much emissions each available dish represented. Taken together, the total emissions from food represent a significant reduction from the previous year's 0.55 kgCO2 and successfully achieve our goal of staying below 0.50 kgCO2, as outlined in our Green Deal.

For beverages, we strictly use reusable cups that are not washed on-site to limit our water use. We only use one truck before and after the festival to transport the cups to be cleaned at another location in Belgium. Visitors were offered to donate their reusable cup warranty for charity, resulting in a collected amount of €11.228,51 donated to River Cleanup, our sustainability partner who also provided volunteers on-site to keep our festival clean.

04

Solid Waste & Recycling

We work closely with the monitoring team of EcoFest to put our ambitious Waste Management Plan into practice. As a result, all our efforts contributed to a lower amount of waste per visitor (going from 0,92 kilos in 2021 to 0,74 in 2022).

Some of our actions aimed at reducing waste include:

  • The distribution of pocket ashtrays and installing recycled cardboard ashtrays on-site.

  • Our Food truck Agreement already aims to minimize the surplus food at every truck. Still, leftover food from the food court, campsite kitchen, crew catering and artist village is donated to a good cause. In 2023, this was Tafel Van Buren.

  • Crew and volunteers are given a reusable water bottle to use during their stay on-site.

  • Upon entry, campers need to pay a deposit and are given two types of garbage bags to recycle their waste. They receive their deposit when bringing back their bags correctly afterwards. Since 2022, the campsite has an expanded recycling park.

  • As mentioned in the procurement chapter, production materials like signage, banners and wooden elements from stages are reused as much as possible.

  • Since 2022, we have implemented reusable KioBox plates at the food court, which was another significant improvement.

  • Some beverage partners already provide their non-alcoholic drinks in 1.5-litre glass bottles (used to fill cups). Now, more will do so, resulting in even fewer cans. 

Going forward, Paradise City will continue to make serious efforts to lower the residual waste per visitor even further. This process starts by identifying where improvements can be made – so monitoring within our own organization and our suppliers will become more rigid and detailed.

05

Water Use and Wastewater

Paradise City has used water use calculators at (almost) each terminal for a few years, allowing for better data on the total water consumption. Since the temperatures during the festival were relatively high in 2022, we have installed several free drinkwater taps. We use vacuum toilets on the festival site, which leads to a decrease in our wastewater per visitor.

We improved our system of water supply pipes across the domain. The pipes can be switched on and off as needed. So in case of spillage in a certain area (in a bar area, for example), the manager can reach the central dispatcher, who’s will inform the production team which pipe has to be turned off to avoid further spillage and correct the problem. Most importantly, the pipe system allows to shutdown individual pipes while keeping the water supply loop of the festival intact.

Currently, our wastewater per visitor per day stands at 8,99 litres. These positive numbers are mostly explained by the use of more vacuum toilets. All of Paradise City’s toilet wastewater is collected by DSSV and disposed of after the event at Aquafin, which processes it until it’s safe to be released back into the ecosystem’s waterways. Because Perk’s limited water processing capacity is insufficient to filter the entire weekend’s wastewater, we transport the wastewater to the Aquafin filtration facilities in Leuven. Grey water from the camping showers is collected by Hello Water, which purifies the water and gives it back to the river of the castle.

Last summer, we built a shared toilet zone between the Forest Stage and the campsite. When the festival site was closed, the toilet area was open to the campsite and vice versa, leading to more efficient water use and less wastewater.

Lastly, we are excited to work together again with River Cleanup, a Belgian non-profit organization on a mission to keep our rivers waste-free. Last summer, their motivated team of volunteers collected excess trash on-site and created an awareness campaign about the severe impact of pollution on our ecosystem. All funds gathered from our visitors who donated the deposit on their reusable cups (€11.228,51 in 2023) were donated to their cause. The organization will be present at our next festival in even greater numbers.

06

Nature & Environment

Paradise City would be nothing without its mind-blowingly beautiful location. Throughout the years, we have invested in the rejuvenation and monitored the sustainability of the gardens around Ribaucourt Castle with a dedicated gardener – not just after every edition but year-round as well.

In the future, we will conduct a new biodiversity assessment since the last one dates back to 2016. This report will give a more detailed update on the current state of the ecosystem. However, we conducted research in 2016 and in 2023 on the bats on the property. The study shows that the festival has no impact on the presence of bats on the domain. 

We reuse our stage designs as much as possible. Only when deterioration becomes an issue, we opt for a redesign – buying as much recycled material as possible, like FSC wood. Signage is designed in a timeless way to avoid producing new banners every edition. When they need an upgrade, we recycle the old signage and banners into usable materials, like beach chairs and bean bags spread across the festival site.

Since 2018, Paradise City has applied a strict ban on single-use plastics across its bars and food court, exclusively using reusable cups (EcoCups) and plates (KioBox). We use local suppliers with the same vision and ambitions as much as possible. Each supplier and food truck has to sign our Green Charter and pay a deposit, which will not be paid back after the festival if they do not respect the charter.

07

Local Community

Like previous editions, Paradise City remains in constant dialogue with the local communities of Perk and Steenokkerzeel on safety and nuisance. Every household in the greater area surrounding the festival site receives a significant reduction on entrance fees – and they have direct contact with a liaison who channels possible complaints to the head of production, who will take action if necessary. We also cooperate with local organizations like sports clubs and scouting groups in our volunteer program. Additionally, the rental fee paid to the site owner is directly reinvested in the estate’s renovation.

Paradise City’s influence on local policymakers is limited, but we can use the attention our festival receives to push our sustainability agenda. From now on, we will organize our soundcheck schedule more efficiently (all soundchecks at the same time, at a given hour of the day) and communicate this better with our neighbours.

As mentioned throughout these chapters, we use a series of agreements which every partner or supplier has to sign before we start our cooperation. These include the Ecological Charter for our production suppliers and the Foodtruck Agreement for our food partners. In addition, a deposit is required from every partner, only paid back afterwards when our green policy is respected.

Throughout the year, the Paradise City core team participates in international conferences that promote the same ideology and share data, such as The Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI London), ADE Green (Amsterdam), Meet in Flanders Academy, ECHO, etc.

Collecting and using data

Since our first edition, we have welcomed independent climate solutions developer CO2-Logic to calculate our carbon footprint. This monitoring gets more detailed every year. The bottom line is that our total carbon emissions have gone up every year, which is explained by the growing number of our visitors, artists and suppliers. However, relative to the number of visitors, our carbon emissions per capita decrease steadily. So who's the biggest culprit for those emissions? The answer clearly points towards visitor and supplier transport, which is why we will continue promoting alternative travel methods in the future and pushing our partners to find cleaner ways to deliver their services.

For more details and data about our sustainability efforts, we kindly direct you to CO2 Logic's extensive reporting here.

Creating awareness.

Influencing our stakeholders to live more sustainably.

Paradise City is not just committed to making changes within the organisation of our event; we also strive to inspire others. We are aware that some organisations use big words with little impact to boost their image (aka greenwashing) – but we realise that open and transparent communication, both the good and the bad, is the only way forward. By sharing our findings and best practices, others may find the answers they were looking for. In the end, we hope this will lead to a more sustainable event industry.

In the last editions, our beer supplier AB Inbev and the local police were present at our festival with fully electric vehicles, which shows their motivation to pursue our sustainability efforts.

We communicate our sustainability action online via regular social media posts, newsletters and press releases – and offline via banners, green pillars and info boards across the festival site. In 2023, we upped the ante and produce more banners to create more awareness.

Social awareness

A significant change since 2022 was the expansion of our citizenship campaigns and the introduction of an expanded safer space policy, aiming to strengthen a more positive and resilient festival culture on our grounds. One of these initiatives was the Citizenship Manifesto, seeking to engrave more diversity and inclusivity in our team and lineup. These values were extensively shared on the ground – and the entire Paradise City core team participated in a dedicated workshop by Plan Sacha, a non-profit organisation from Brussels that promotes inclusiveness and safer nightlife in Belgium.

Our booking policy has changed drastically over the years, paying close attention to three crucial criteria: increasing the share of local artists, female-identifying artists and POC (people of colour) artists. We do not use quota, but we believe that more diversity (and equity) in our lineup benefits our festival in every way possible.

In 2022, we launched the Angels of Paradise, a team of dedicated and easily identifiable volunteers on the ground that’s ready to listen, assist and help anyone in distress (from suffering harassment to feeling unwell after taking drugs or alcohol). These motivated people have been trained to handle difficult situations and assist visitors with any issue, big or small. The feedback has been positive, but improvements can be made, like adding more volunteers and providing more training beforehand. So that’s exactly what we’ll do before next summer’s festivities.

Our sustainability partners.