Thinking in Circles  

Ars Electronica (AT)

The linear economy model of our economy, involving production, consumption, and disposal, presents significant environmental challenges due to excessive resource use. The Ars Electronica Festival champions a circular economy approach that aims to extend resource lifecycles and promote material and energy recovery, reflecting natural environmental cycles. This sustainability ethos deeply influences our festival’s planning and execution. 

Ars Electronica Festival’s Sustainability Strategy 

Our commitment to reducing the festival’s CO2 footprint is evidenced by our “Green Event” certification from the Climate Alliance of Upper Austria. We rigorously evaluated our internal processes in 2022, focusing on sustainability in areas such as mobility, catering, event location, social responsibility and communication. By fostering awareness and incentives, we engage visitors, artists, and partners in driving meaningful change. This year, we aim to comprehensively analyze the festival’s aspects to lay the foundation for future carbon reduction. 

Our overarching goal is to optimize processes beyond the festival, prioritizing climate and resource preservation. Strong partnerships play a vital role in promoting sustainability. A cornerstone of our strategy is the festival architecture, designed to extend object lifespans through reuse and recycling, thus reducing waste. We emphasize sharing, borrowing, repairing, and recycling existing materials. With the support of team members, partners, and “Sustainability” Partners, we’ve successfully enacted various actions. 

Collaborating with architects and carpenters, we’ve developed modular exhibition architecture that minimizes waste through reuse. Scaffolding elements are repurposed indoors and outdoors, returning to their original function after the festival. We repurpose IBC Containers for signage, which later serve regional farms. Eco-friendly materials like grass-cardboard and plywood are prioritized for signage, banners, and prints, ensuring prolonged usability. 

Plants are integral to our festival architecture, pre-planted for ambiance and later returned to city gardens. Our commitment extends to technical infrastructure through a partnership with Computer Center Feldbach (CCF), exemplifying innovation and sustainability. 

In addition to fulfilling Green Event criteria, we align with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 

SDG 4: Ensuring equal access to quality education. 

SDG 5: Promoting gender equality and equal opportunities. 

SDG 12: Responsible and efficient resource use, reflecting our circular approach. 

SDG 13: Combating climate change through education and awareness. 

SDG 17: Embracing partnerships for SDG achievement. 

Ars Electronica recognizes digital transformation’s societal impact and advocates for Digital Humanism, aiming for a digital society aligned with human, ecological, and cultural values. We collaborate through the European Platform for Digital Humanism to shape a transformative future.