ALL ABOARD! – did the motto also affect sustainability at the Eurovision Song Contest?
In terms of sustainability the host cities Vienna and Malmö have been lonely forerunners. Vienna was the first ESC host city to hold the event in ecological correctness. This has more or less worked out well. Kiev last year was a huge step backwards. Was has made Lisbon environmentally friendly? Sadly there are only very few facts to find.
This year’s motto “All Aboard” should emphasize that all people in Europe and beyond are connected via the oceans. Furthermore the importance of Portugal as a seafarer nation should be highlighted as an important centre of maritime routes.
Sustainability at the ESC is limited to individual initiatives
A positive point is the venue of the former EXPO ground has been re-used. No more further surfaces had to be sealed and the existing infrastructure could have been used. In the official Eurovision app (for delegations, staff, media and fans only) the points of recycling have been listed.
Sustainability: it’s mentioned that the All Aboard! Is not only the worlds largest TV-music-event, but also means a mission for protection of the environment and earth. All participants are encouraged to make this even to a sustainable event. There are recycling facilities for water bottles, waste sorting, usage of public transport and marked smoking zones
Recycling: it’s explicit emphasized that waste has to be sorted in container for plastic & metal, paper and cardboard, glass and residual waste
A heap plastic waste at the ESC in Lisbon
This was the theory. In reality it of course looks a bit different. As catering provider on the Eurovision ground the choice felt to go “natural”. Go natural offers regional and organic food, but offers disposable packaging. Those are recyclable, but the amount of this waste is enormously. All the product were put in plastic and plastic composites.
There were refrigerators provided everywhere filled with water in plastic bottles of 0.33 l. The coffee machines also provide cups from composites. This is far away from sustainability.
Due to security reasons it is prohibited to bring own food, cups or drinks with you. With this hurdles it’s not possible to leave an ecological footstep.
Water out of plastic bottle were offered for free, but the empty bottles have been left where they have been consumed. This is not the fault of the organisers, but the responsibility of everybody. These bottles are easily blown away from the wind and end up in the environment. At the blue carpet, which was held at the banks of the Tejo River, the empty bottles landed in the water and are now swimming somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean. With this effect the ESC in Lisbon is strongly connected with plastic carpet in oceans. All aboard!
Lisbon – also behind with public transport
In former ESC host cites it was always offered to use the public transport for all the participants, journalists, delegations, fans, etc. for at up to two weeks. Every accredited person received a public transport card for free. Not so in Lisbon. People had to use the car or taxi, or to pay for the public transport. In this point Lisbon is not at the top of sustainability.
To the sustainability topic I have contacted the host broadcaster RTP, but not received an answer so far.
In a conclusion I can say that the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon will not win the crown for sustainability. Many things could have been organised in favour of sustainability and ecology.
It would be great to see that the EBU with the main responsibility could have a closer look in regards of sustainability and commit in their rules. For every contest this sustainability report should be made. Only Vienna provided this.
Publisher, Editor, Journalist
About me: My first Eurovision Song Contest I watched behind the walls of the former GDR in 1987. This was even possible at that time! Since then I am following the ESC every year on TV. In 2004 I had the chance to watch it live in Istanbul. Due to the fact that Jens and Bernd have collected many interviews, photos, etc. the idea came up to show all this contest to the public. We founded the website eurovisionlive.com and we have been one of the first to offer the medium internet for the Eurovision Song Contest.