With the ongoing issues of climate change and environmental destruction, the sustainability framework is becoming the guiding philosophy for many industries today. From ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance), to Renewable Energy and Circular Economy, many large and small companies are adopting practical frameworks to guide their business practices towards sustainability.
The thriving music industry is also not to be left out in this approach towards net zero carbon emissions. In June 2023, the British rock band, Coldplay, released a sustainability report showing transparency in their emissions update, extracted from the first 12 months of their Music Of The Spheres tour. The band is currently on their eight concert tour to showcase and celebrate their ninth album, Music Of The Spheres, which runs from March 2022 and is expected to end in September 2024.
The sustainability framework for the Music Of The Spheres Tour had been in planning for around 2 years prior to the launch of the tour. Coldplay has based their tour’s carbon footprint on three core principles: Reduce, Reinvent, and Restore. Through these guiding principles, the band aims to cut carbon emissions down to 50%, incorporate green technologies, and support nature-based projects while ensuring environmentally responsible practices throughout the tour.
Let’s take a look at the initiatives that the British rock band have put together:
1. CO₂ Emissions
CO₂ Emissions are aimed to be reduced by more than 50% compared to their previous A Head Full of Dreams tour (2016 - 2017). To achieve this, Coldplay has appointed DHL as their official Logistics partner for their current tour, in which DHL is adopting sustainable alternatives in freight and transportations such as advanced biofuels and electric vehicles.
In terms of stage production, almost the whole production will run on renewable energy. Solar panels are installed around the stage and towers. Renewable diesel in the form of palm-oil free biofuel is used in their trucks throughout the tour. Coldplay has also teamed up with BMW to incorporate a battery system for their show that is mobile and rechargeable, using recyclable BMW i3 batteries. Kinetic floors and bicycles that generate electricity power are installed around the stadium to convert kinetic energy from all the fans’ dancing to electrical power to run the show. The main power used throughout the show is also sourced from 100% renewable energy.
For air transportations such as commercial and chartered flights, the band pays an extra surcharge to use or supply Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicles and biofuel are also used for their ground transportations.
4. Stage Show
A sustainability rider is sent to all concert venues during the tour planning to request for buildings to run on responsible environmental practices. The shows are carefully curated to utilise local equipment, materials and resources. In terms of building materials for the stage, low-carbon and reusable materials are used. Paper wristbands are replaced with plant-based, LED wristbands that are reused after each show: each wristband is collected, sterilised, and recharged. As for lighting and audio equipment, the rock band decided to use low-energy LED lights and PA systems. Confetti and decorations used during the shows are 100% biodegradable, and run on sustainable pyrotechnics made from recycled and biodegradable materials.
Coldplay has introduced a free app for fans to use, encouraging them to use sustainable transportations on the day of the show. The app is also able to track and calculate the carbon footprint generated by their fans, while providing rewards in terms of discount codes to those taking sustainable transportations. Interesting fact: Coldplay is planting one tree for each concert ticket sold.
Remember the sustainability rider that Coldplay sent to all the concert venues? Well, the rider also deals with the venues to incorporate aerated taps, low flushing toilets, and to use low water pressure to reduce water wastage. For their beloved fans, water refill stations are provided at the venues.
The sale of single-use plastics is eliminated and replaced with reusable alternatives. Recycling programs are encouraged at venues without one. The Music Of The Spheres Tour also sponsors the work of The Ocean Cleanup, an organisation and initiative that aims to intercept waste in the rivers from entering our oceans.
Catering menus for the crew and the rest of the team include plant-based and meat-free options, in addition to partnering with locally sourced and lab-grown foods to reduce carbon footprint. The band also has partnered with food banks to donate surplus food in order to prevent food wastage, alongside collecting and composting organic waste generated from the meals.
All tour merchandise are made from ethically sourced and sustainable materials such as organic cotton, natural fibres, and recycled materials, and are packed into compostable packaging. Not only that, vendors and partners are also curated to practise the same sustainable approach, while providing ethical work conditions and wages to their workers.
10. Good Causes
10% of profit from their tour will go towards supporting 18 environmental and socially responsible projects and charities.
Profit from their tour will also extend to their ongoing and dedicated commitment in supporting these causes: Reforestation, Soil Health, Oceans, Conservation and Rewilding.
Coldplay is committed to transparency, in which they are working closely with Green Nation, their ticketing platform’s sustainability arm, to measure the environmental impact from the start till the end of the tour.
Highlights and Updates from the Music of the Spheres Tour’s Sustainability Report (June 2023)
Now, let’s take a look at what the multiple award-winning band has achieved in their latest sustainability report. Prior to its release, the report was assessed and approved by a representative from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Professor John E. Fernandez.
47% reduced CO₂ emissions in comparison to their previous A Head Full of Dreams tour.
5 million trees planted (via One Tree Planted) for each concert ticket purchased.
1 solar-powered interceptor deployed in Klan River, Malaysia, by The Ocean Cleanup.
86% average return rate of their reusable, plant-based LED wristbands,
15kWh average power per show generated through all their renewable energy sources used throughout the shows.
95% of the shows had free water refill stations for the fans.
553 tCO2e saved through the purchase of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) used in flights.
66% of all tour waste is diverted from landfills
3,770 meals and 37 kg of toiletries were donated from the tour catering to the homeless and unsheltered people.
Financial support was provided to environmental organisations such as ClientEarth, Sea Shepherd, Sustainable Food Trust, Knowledge Pele, Project Seagrass, and Conservation Collective.
707,288 collective action taken by Coldplay fans (via Global Action).
“Based on a detailed review of the work of Coldplay’s sustainability team in assessing and advising the band and management on the CO2e impact of touring, we fully endorse this effort as critically important, scientifically rigorous and of the highest quality.
MIT ESI endorses this work as an important and substantive step toward a new era of eventually achieving carbon neutral music events by major artists. The band deserves significant praise in commissioning the work and acting as the vanguard for the global music industry as it begins to take seriously the reality of living and making music in the Anthropocene.”
- Professor John E. Fernandez, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative
I have to say, I am very impressed by the initiatives and efforts driven by Coldplay. This is the first time I have witnessed such thorough actions being incorporated by the music industry in a world tour – from sustainable logistics and transportation, to stage production powered by renewable energy, down to the small details like catering food menus and concert wristbands. Coldplay really outdone themselves this time. To put things into perspective, I personally believe that a sustainable future is achievable, provided with strategic planning and multi stakeholder engagement and partnerships. The Music Of The Spheres Tour proves to be a perfect example of how sustainability can be a part of this modern life.
To those attending the Music Of The Spheres concert in Malaysia this upcoming November, here are a few friendly tips and reminders: don't forget to use sustainable transportation to and from the venue, use digital tickets instead of printing them, avoid single-use plastic packaging when purchasing food or items, bring your own water bottle, and do return those reusable LED wristbands after the concert!
Journalist, Charisma Movement 22/23