H&E North looks at how conferences, exhibitions and corporate event can be an eco-friendly, sustainable success.
Jon Proctor, CEO of Green Tourism (Green-tourism.com), reveals his top tips for arranging a green event.
Organising a conference, exhibition or other corporate event with sustainability in mind can not only help the environment, but also encourage attendees, save money and offer a creative twist to an event. Being green can be a challenge, so here are some helpful hints:
Consider where the audience is coming from and locate the event nearby to reduce travel times and distances. Include useful transport information in all delegate correspondence and in areas where public transport is less available, promote lift sharing to reduce congestion and save money on parking and fuel.
Choose a sustainably-recognised venue. This can be made easier by choosing a venue that is Green Tourism certified. A green venue should be able to provide its baseline energy performance, examples of green initiatives and excellent local knowledge, advice and support for green practices.
Good community relations are important for successful events. Try to ensure noise levels are kept under control, and deliveries and pickups are carried out at reasonable hours. Investigate if there are other conflicting events in the area and contact the local authority to comply with any permissions required.
Suppliers and contractors
Work with local and sustainably-minded suppliers for everything from bathroom supplies such as toilet paper to food and drink, decorations and staff, reducing costs and carbon footprint.
Keeping costs and waste down through careful planning when it comes to event food, ensuring recycling bins are available throughout the venue, encouraging suppliers to provide produce in returnable packaging and providing delegates with refillable coffee mugs are just some of the actions an event organiser should consider.
Leaving a legacy is valuable. Key performance indicators might be used to demonstrate a before and after results such as transport improvements, accessibility, community development and ecological issues. Telling the story of the event gives an insight into how it was arranged and the issues tackled, acting as a milestone to help improve future events.
The Sustainable Venue
Andy Dransfield, owner of The Curve Eco House in Lincolnshire (Thecurveholidayrental.co.uk), explains how his sustainable property can accommodate corporate guests.
After almost 10 years in the making, The Curve opened in 2013 and has catered for a broad array of corporate guests, from pharmaceutical companies and banks to confectionery brands and food suppliers. This eco-friendly property is equipped with healthy house living systems, smart home technology, biomass underfloor heating, and LED lighting, making it an energy efficient property. It is these green credentials that have proven to be a draw for companies planning corporate stays and green retreats.
“Businesses can make use of the 11 en-suite rooms, cinema room and kitchen, as well as the dining room, which caters for 24 people at the same table,” explains Andy Dransfield, owner of The Curve. “In fact, the building itself sleeps up to 24, so it is ideal for teams wishing to stay in the region. Corporate guests have used this property as a base for their events over the years and we are happy to help arrange team building or other activities that companies have planned – we even helped to arrange a duck herding session for one client recently!”
The Food Waste Management System
Philip Simpson, Managing Director of ReFood, the waste food management system, on how food waste affects the events industry.
What is ReFood?
ReFood is the UK’s leading food waste recycler, helping businesses across the food supply chain to divert food waste from landfill, generate renewable energy and save money on waste disposal costs. We operate two state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion plants in Widnes and Doncaster, utilising both gas-to-grid and combined heat and power (CHP) technology to turn 280,000 tonnes of food waste into green energy each year. A third facility is in development.
Can you tell me how ReFood works to turn waste into energy?
With a national network of waste disposal vehicles, ReFood collects food waste nationwide, including QHotels and The Savoy. It then turns it into renewable energy at the two plants.
The AD process biologically breaks down organic material to generate large amounts of biogas, which is a combination of methane and carbon dioxide. It works in a similar way as composting, only on an industrial scale and in the absence of oxygen.
This biogas is used to generate heat and renewable energy – both electricity and gas – which are sent directly to the grid. Meanwhile, the resulting residue can be used as a sustainable fertiliser; enabling beneficial nutrients to be retained and reinvested back to the beginning of the food chain.
How do you think the events industry could be more sustainable?
It’s not just a question of how, but why it should be more sustainable. The sector finds itself at a particularly challenging juncture. Hyper-competitivity, the pressure to price-cut and rising costs are resulting in ever increasing strain. It has never been more important to ensure all income sources are utilised and competitive advantage emphasised.
Taking action to reduce food waste should be a priority. A combined strategy of waste reduction, behavioural change and implementing food waste recycling will help the sector save money, reduce carbon emissions and boost customer footfall.
The Eco Friendly Furniture
Eco Event (Ecoevent.com) offers a planet-friendly furniture alternative.
Eco Event is an event furniture company offering a sustainable, 100% recyclable collection of products, from seating and tables to bunting and cupboards. All are made entirely from cardboard produced and manufactured from a sustainable source in the UK. This range of furniture has been created in answer to how wasteful the event industry had become.
All of the cardboard comes from a Forest Stewardship Council forest where, for each tree chopped down, two trees are planted, to guarantee the protection of the future of forests and timber supply.
In addition to being green, organisers can have the furniture personalised with branding and logos, and every piece can be assembled in minutes without the need of a toolbox, making it time efficient as well as energy efficient.