Ultra Music Festival wins prestigious World Sustainability Award

The festival was handpicked from an international pool of 220 applications and 35 origin countries

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2020
Photo Credit: Statie Photography

Ultra Music Festival, Miami’s internationally-renowned electronic music event, received the prestigious Sustainability Team Award at the most recent World Sustainability Awards ceremony, cementing the festival as a global leader in environmental responsibility. The World Sustainability Awards – an annual ceremony that spotlights companies who put sustainability at the core of their strategic development – took place at The Garden Of Amsterdam, where Ultra Music Festival representatives accepted their award in-person. 

The magnitude of Ultra Music Festival’s win is underscored by the sheer breadth of applications submitted to the World Sustainability Leaders Congress, as well the awards’ fierce competition from large, international corporations. Handpicked by a panel of 25 industry-leading judges, Ultra Music Festival was one of 13 winners selected from a pool of 220 organizational applications and 35 different origin countries. 

Photo Credit: Statie Photography

Additionally, the awards’ shortlists (across all 13 categories) included companies such as AT&T, HEINEKEN, HP, and many more – an impressive list that further solidifies Ultra Music Festival as an environmental leader on an international scale. In their own Sustainability Team Award category, Ultra Music Festival beat out multinational powerhouses and their sustainability divisions, including Paramount, TELUS, Stryker, Dentsu, and others. 

The Sustainability Team Award seeks to recognize a team with a clear vision that works collaboratively towards a shared sustainability purpose. In their official award overview on the World Sustainability Leaders website, the organization stated,
“Coming from a diverse range of professional backgrounds, Ultra Music Festival’s lean but agile sustainability team has worked with a host of partners both within and outside the organization to drive tangible changes in areas ranging from eliminating[nearly] 90% of single-use plastics from its site to diverting 180,000 pounds of waste from landfill and supporting local communities with food and beverage donations. The team has also trained more than 1,000 colleagues on sustainability while raising awareness on sustainability issues in an external-facing campaign that reached an audience of 6 million people.” – World Sustainability Leaders

Photo Credit: Statie Photography

Indeed, the Ultra Music Festival sustainability program Mission: Home, which is run by four women from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, has demonstrated a cross-functionally collaborative approach to festival sustainability. It relies heavily on collaboration among internal teams, external vendors, event staff, community partners, and festival attendees who are educated and empowered to embrace their role in sustainability.

 “This speaks volumes about the power of music and the arts to call on collective action, and what better purpose than protecting our planet.” – Vivian Belzaguy Hunter, Director of Sustainability, Ultra Music Festival


Mission: Home’ includes an attendee-facing awareness and environmental education campaign that is broadcasted to the event’s 55,000, international daily attendees via on-site signage throughout the event, as well as email, website, and social media, culminating in a reach of over 6.5 million followers globally. Mission: Home content is also featured on the event’s UMFTV livestream annually, which is viewed by millions of people worldwide.

Since Mission: Home’s inception in 2019, the impact of their collaborations and educational efforts have been recorded in yearly, detailed tracking reports. These comprehensive, integrity-driven reports and their impressive figures have led to Mission: Home’s recognition by the events industry in addition to local and global environmental organizations, including by the Florida Festivals and Events Association, Oceanic Global, and Debris Free Oceans in 2022 – and now, in 2023, Sustainability Leaders, the London-based global community-intelligence network for CSOs (Chief Sustainability Officers) and ESG (Environmental, Social, & Governance) executives.

In March 2023, Mission: Home hosted its third iteration at Bayfront Park (home of Ultra Music Festival), bringing back its key objectives of Waste Reduction, Pollution Prevention, Nature Preservation, Community Engagement and Climate Action – which included 40 initiatives. The program’s 2023 Sustainability Report detailed a long list of admirable accomplishments, including its collaboration with their waste management and recycling partner Clean Vibes, who has helped the festival divert over 184,000 pounds of waste from landfills and achieve 100% acceptance of recycling loads at local facilities over the course of the program’s 3-year lifespan.



“From our president to all of our partners and vendors both internal and external, our program is only possible with the support of everyone we work with.” – Emily Milton, Sustainability Program Manager, Ultra Music Festival 

Ultra also partnered with Replenysh, a circularity platform that offers full traceability, on where recyclable materials end up, to keep a majority of the event’s recyclables in the domestic supply chain. Through this partnership, 81,040 pounds of aluminum cans and plastic bottles – from Ultra and other local sources – were recycled within the southeastern United States, where Ultra is located. This represents a major improvement from traditional recycling, which tends to be transported across the country or internationally, and is often downcycled, creating a larger carbon footprint than regional delivery with a predefined destination.

Ultra’s waste reduction efforts also included donating nearly 40,000 pounds of resources (such as food and supplies) since Mission: Home’s inception, which were redistributed to partners that support the local community. In the past two years, Mission: Home has donated over 7,500 lbs of food alone – the equivalent of over 6,200 meals –  to The Caring Place, a homeless outreach center that has been providing services, including meals and shelter, in Miami and Broward since 1922.

Other collaborators, such as Best Beverage Catering and compliant food vendors, have helped Ultra reduce 1.7 million plastics and eliminate nearly 88% of single-use plastic types that were previously distributed – including cups, straws, plates, cutlery and many other food service wares. Additionally, Event Water Solutions and Hope Hydration provided free water refill stations which have eliminated over 605K plastic water bottles from entering the waste stream since 2019. 


Ultra also partnered with internationally renowned energy efficiency experts, ZAP Concepts, to conduct an energy efficiency assessment with specialty entertainment power supplier, CES Power, identifying specific areas for power efficiency that can reduce future climate impacts. Ultra‘s sustainability team has also conducted baseline carbon emission studies focused on the event’s production to inform future climate action opportunities.

These achievements were made possible by Mission: Home’s effective team-building philosophy, resulting in a program that educates over 1,000 employees, staff, partners and vendors through role-specific sustainability outreach, guidelines and trainings, as well as integrated student volunteer and internship programs that have trained and empowered 25 future leaders in festival sustainability. This hard work and leadership has “future-proofed” Ultra Music Festival’s sustainability, as the festival seeks to continue its world-class environmental status for years to come.

Photo Credit: Statie Photography

“Our ‘Mission: Home’ program has become part of the fabric of our organization,” says Ultra’s Founder and CEO, Russell Faibisch, “I could not be more proud to be recognized as an industry leader on this global stage.”

Ultra Music Festival is thrilled to share that the Mission: Home program will be returning to Bayfront Park for its 4th iteration at the festival on March 22, 23 and 24, 2024. The Sustainability team plans to continue growing the program and its impact with new initiatives under the objectives of Waste Reduction, Pollution Prevention, Nature Preservation, Community Engagement and Climate Action. Ultra is committed to demonstrating environmental responsibility within the music festival industry and beyond, inspiring their partners, audience and community to do the same! To stay updated, visit https://ultramusicfestival.com/mission-home.

Adam Parry
Author: Adam Parry

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.

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