The meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) market has witnessed a paradigm shift in the last two years. Sustainability, once an overlooked ‘tick box’ of suggested activity, is now a key consideration for most event planners.
Sustainability has undoubtedly become a priority for the events industry in recent years and for good reason. From small scale meetings to large conferences, enormous amounts of waste are generated and then inefficiently disposed of. Whether it be printed collateral and promotional merchandise, or dedicated displays and free gifts, it is often too expensive to ship back materials to the central office than to simply leave at the venue and reorder when needed.
Finding efficient ways to reuse, recycle and repurpose surplus event materials has presented a unique challenge to venues. Meetings organisers, particularly millennials, who represent an ever-increasing share of the market, are now demanding evidence of environmental responsibility, rather than accepting a venue simply claiming to be ‘eco conscious’. With younger generations, such as Greta Thurnberg, actively demanding urgent action to tackle pollution, waste and climate change.
Why is sustainability in events important? According to Meet Green the typical conference waste attendee produces 1.89KG of waste per day, 1.16KG of that will go directly to a landfill. When you calculate that number for 1000 attendees over 3 days you get 5670KG of waste, the equivalent of four compact cars.
For those keen to go green, here are some tips:
- Get planning. Regardless of size, organising an event is a stressful endeavour. Making sure that your team is on the same page regarding activity and deadlines will go a long way to ensure targets are met.
- When conducting a show round, ask the venue if they have a trained sustainability consultant. Having a highly trained onsite professional to provide practical advice to clients truly ensures that a venue is going above and beyond. Not only are they able to offer recommendations on reducing cost through best practice, they able to advise on waste policy regarding orders from additional third-party suppliers.
- Enquire about the venue’s waste policy, as venues that are committed to sustainability will already have established recycling policies in place. International hotel chain Maritim for example, repurposes broken crockery in road construction.
- Look out for ‘green’ meetings packages. Elements often include fair trade food, reared and served from the ‘farm to the fork’ along with recycled meeting materials, such as re-useable writing pads with FSC-certified paper and biodegradable pens.
- Food and beverage. The biggest culprits in event waste is in food and beverage, particularly single use utensils, plates and cups. Encourage delegates to bring their own reusable cups, while excess leftover food can be donated to homeless shelters and unused writing material can be offered to schools.
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