As dealing with wastage and sustainability becomes an ever more pressing concern for the industry, we speak to key personnel about the challenges faced and the accreditations suppliers can look at to help deliver best practise.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Chantal Kerr-Sheppard is Director at Event Cycle, a not-for-profit organisation helping organisers make sustainable choices. She tells us; “One of the biggest challenges facing sustainability in events is the amount of waste we create. From graphics to giveaways, planks of woods to plants, we need real materials to create authentic experiences, but this is often to the detriment of our planet.
“Events in the current climate rely on the safety of recycling as the answer to this problem, but this energy-intensive process simply displaces the issue. In the first instance, we should be looking to reduce what we produce. But when waste is a necessary event component, we all need to take responsibility and identify where each item goes once the attendees have gone home and make sure it isn’t landfill.
“For example, those seven last-minute shelving units you bought for your stand will work wonders in seven flats at a homeless housing project, and the five plinths that were only used for two days? The children at the local art club will be delighted to display their works on them.”
Chantal’s Top Tips
When working with a venue, ask them what their options are for excess food. They should have a donation system in place as well as a composting process too. If not, challenge them to make some positive changes. For food that’s still good to eat, contact the local food bank or homeless shelter ahead of the event or look to national organisations like UK Harvest which can help you work out the best plan of action for your leftovers.
Talk to your print supplier about sustainable and most importantly, easily recyclable options, otherwise they will keep giving you what you’ve had before. And when it comes to Foamex, don’t buy it at all. A couple of excellent alternatives are bubble-board and if you’re inside, Dufaylite. Both are recyclable.
If you really can’t rent, try sourcing second- hand or via a social enterprise instead. Source furniture from a charity, vintage shop, or second-hand specialist and see if they would take them back afterwards. When they won’t take them back, look for charitable organisations to donate to.
Try not to buy new wood. There are plenty of places to obtain reclaimed wood or you could look at recycled alternatives with the same structural integrity. When you have wood leftover, although easily recyclable, why put it through such an energy-intensive process when you can use it as it is? There are a number of charities and social enterprises that will make use of timber lengths, painted wood, and set flats creating sheds, extensions, and Wendy houses.
So how can getting accredited help? And what’s on offer for event organisers? With many great options for accreditations out there, it can be difficult to know which to choose or how to go about making the choice.
Kevan Holland, Founder of Trident Hospitality, recently achieved the Greengage ECOsmart accreditation for his business.
“We have looked at things like green tourism and the likes in the past, but green tourism is more leisure-based and we work in the meetings and events market. So that’s what pushed us towards Greengage Solutions and the ECOsmart venues and hotels accreditation.”
Andrew Perolls is founder of Greengage, he says: “Accreditation is a good thing because it shows that business’ sustainability claims are credible. It means that delegates know that an event is going to be serious about adopting environmental best practice, but just as importantly, it helps event professionals identify the gaps in their practice so that they can prioritise improvements.”
Of course, Greengage is just one of a number of accreditations available, suppliers should look at the best option for their business. Here are a few more up for consideration.
Greengage ECOsmart has two separate accreditations, one for venues and hotels, and one for agencies. Greengage aimed to make a certification which was an “accreditation plus” and would make connections between corporates, conference venues and hotels, and event agencies. Greengage ECOsmart attempts to make accreditation as simple as possible, with a simply worded online survey to complete. The accreditation gives participants a rating, bronze through to platinum, depending on how sustainable they are, let’s them set their own goal for improvement, and tells them how to get there.
B Corp Certification is a confirmation that a business is meeting high standards of accountability is sustainability and social responsibility. There are several criteria a business must meet before it is eligible for B Corp certification, including scoring 80 or above an B Corp’s impact assessment, making a legal commitment to change its corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders, and allowing its performance to be shown publicly on B Corp’s website.
EventSost is an international sustainability certification made specifically for events. The certification ensures that accredited companies have implemented a sustainability management system in their events that includes compliance with the most important sustainable good practices accepted by the international events community. EventSost offers several different certifications, including a Premium certification, one for event headquarters, one for use of sustainable resources, and one for sustainable events themselves.
BREEAM is the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for buildings. First established in 1990, BREEAM aims to help venues manage and mitigate risk by demonstrating sustainability at any
stage of the venue’s lifecycle, be that planning, design, construction, operation, or refurbishment. BREEAM measures sustainable value in a series of categories, including energy, land use, pollution, transportation, waste, water, and others.