Russ Spollin

Bristol, UK

In-house Sustainability Manager, Consultant, Event Producer and Specialist (waste)

Details of experience:

Russ Spollin has a passion for events and sustainability, working with festivals and community events to help improve their sustainability performance.

His sustainability journey began a decade ago as a workplace union environment representative and has taken him many wonderful places, including deep down compost toilets and high atop mountains of recycling!

His main activities are as Director and Sustainability Manager for Redfest Bristol, a social enterprise arts and community festival attracting 20,000 people annually.

Russ says that his interest in sustainability started to become a professional focus during his time as a Union Rep in the civil service from 2007-2015. He became an Environment Rep and a key member of the cross department cross grade working group to improve our sustainability performance of the organisation. Successes included engagement initiatives on organic/fairtrade food and healthy living, implementing LED and smart lighting technology leading to reduced energy bills, switching to a renewable energy provider, implementing full recycling facilities at all sites, organising free 'Dr Bike' bike maintenance days, and supporting members on mental health issues in the workplace.

His sustainable event management experience began with Brisfest and Montpelier Bean Feast.

At Brisfest Russ had experience as a stage and area manager. Himself and his colleague (who has aviation industry environmental management experience) joined forces and began the early stages of a sustainable event management system.

They completed the baseline measurements and began engagement with a variety of stakeholders internal and external. Unfortunately as Brisfest did not return to an outdoor festival event, they decided to put the project on hold indefinitely. However, the experience was invaluable.

At Bean Feast he was a committee member involved with various aspects of the event. He began to focus on waste, taking on full responsibility for management of waste at the event, ensuring the site was kept litter free and all waste streams were fully segregated. They also measured energy and water. Using IG Tools, a sustainability report was produced and presented to the team, which informed future decisions for the event.

Ross' main project is Redfest Bristol, that delivers a high quality arts event for the community of East Bristol. The sustainability project has been running for 3 years and is proving to be a great success.

Sustainability is represented on the board of directors by himself. They measured their baseline in 2014 and have been making improvements ever since.

Their event attendees have grown exponentially, from 6000 to 10,000 to 20,000, however, our per attendee carbon footprint has decreased. Initiatives such as free cycle parking facilities, encouraging more to walk and less to drive, recycling initiatives, solar powered stages, free drinking water, reusable cups and compostable serviceware have been overwhelmingly well received by all stakeholders.

The last years offered unique challenges and opportunities due to a change of event format - from an single day outdoor festival to a multi day multi venue takeover style event. 

Priorities were engaging in a more indepth way with venues and sponsors, promoting sustainability in a broader sense within the community, and improving our environmental management system.

Now,  we are looking very positive indeed for Redfest's future.

Qualifications/Degrees/Training:

  • IEMA Practitioner (exam passed, awaiting assessment of competence)
  • Permaculture Design Course Certificate - Shift Bristol / Permaculture Association
  • Foundations in Community Organising - Certa Level 3 Credit
  • ISO 20121 (Event Sustainability Management Systems) 
  • Implementation Training - Greenshoot Pacific
  • Trade Unions Today (QCF) (Environment) 
  • NOCN Level 2 Award
  • Trade Union Representatives (QCF) (Equality) 
  • NOCN Level 2 Award
  • Supporting Users of IT - NVQ Level 3
  • Business Administration - NVQ Level 2
  • Mental Health First Aid Certificate
  • GCSEs English Language & Literature
  • Mathematics, Science, Art & Design

List of events and projects worked on:

  • Redfest Bristol - sustainability manager and director
  • Brisfest - sustainability manager, area manager, venue manager, committee member
  • Glastonbury - recycling centre, compost toilets
  • Shambala - attendee engagement, compost toilets
  • BoomTown - compost toilets
  • Love Saves The Day - attendee engagement and volunteer management
  • Fire In The Mountain - waste management
  • Beautiful Days - waste management
  • Bimble Bandada - waste managementShindig Weekender - compost toilets
  • Bean Feast - waste management, sustainability management and committee member
  • Temwa - event coordination for sustainable development charity
  • Pigpen Radio - director of social enterprise (registered CIC) radio station all about positive conscious music