‘Glitter not litter’ at Eurovision in Liverpool

All eyes will be on Liverpool over the coming week as the city hosts the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine.

With thousands expected to attend in person and millions tuning in to watch the spectacle, Liverpool is using the limelight to champion sustainability. For the first time in its 67-year history, the music competition’s impact on the environment is being measured.

Sustainability in the spotlight

The BBC (the host broadcaster) and Liverpool agreed to monitor the Eurovision Song Contest’s sustainability, in the hope of creating a legacy for future host cities. It will also allow Liverpool to gain more data and knowledge for subsequent events.

“For the first time, we will have an understanding of the impact that events of this nature have and how we can look to make even more positive sustainable choices for the event in the future,” explains outgoing Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, in an interview with the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC).

Efforts are also being made to make the contest environmentally friendly, from how energy is used, to waste prevention and encouraging the use of public transport.

Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson
Outgoing Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson, Photo courtesy Liverpool City Council

“It sits in line with Liverpool’s commitment to the signing of the Paris agreement and the wider Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that we are trying to achieve as a city,” notes Mayor Anderson.

The main Arena and Convention Centre (ACC), where the various acts will take centre stage, uses green and zero carbon electricity, and is fitted with solar panels. Rainwater is also harvested to supply water to the venue’s toilets. All the contest’s venues are, however, heated by gas. The city says that this is currently unavoidable, but that there are plans to change this.

Liverpool also aims to ensure Eurovision involves all communities in the city and has a positive social impact.

“I do not want anyone to feel that Eurovision happens in their city and they were not involved in it,” says Mayor Anderson.

Reducing, reusing, recycling

Waste prevention and circularity have been at the forefront of planning for the contest. The event’s Turquoise Carpet, which the contest’s stars will make their way down, will be recycled after the competition draws to a close.

Surplus paint and materials used for the event will be donated to a local social enterprise, and stage sets and props are earmarked for schools, drama groups and auction. Mixed recycling will also be in place for bottles, cans, paper and card, and there will be clear waste signage in the Eurovision Village. Water fountains will also be provided to prevent plastic bottle waste.

“Everything that we can recycle and repurpose we will, and we will try and capture the data from that,” adds Mayor Anderson.

In terms of the impact of travel to the contest, surveys are planned to calculate staff and performer’s travel impacts while data from ticket sales will estimate the audience’s modes of transport.

Walking routes are also in place between the main venues.

“Liverpool’s a very walkable city,” says Mayor Anderson, adding that the city will also “make sure we have got good transport routes or cycling and electric scooters available.”

The city has planted flowers in the centre to act as passive parking barriers and improve the area. Bare soil areas are also being planted with wildflowers or grass seed.

Building a legacy for cities and future song contests

In 2019, all political parties within Liverpool City Council agreed to rise to the challenge of making Liverpool a Net Zero Carbon city by 2030. It is estimated that Liverpool has already cut 840,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere since 2005 and has planted more than half a million trees in the past 25 years.

“Eurovision has allowed for us as a city to start having wider conversations regarding sustainability, especially in the event sector,” says Mayor Anderson, who concludes that the city hopes to move towards net zero events in the future.

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