With a top demand for net-zero carbon emissions at events this year, we speak to key industry figures about making sustainability a top priority.
Mike McCloy is the Manager of Edinburgh-based Maximilion, one of the UK’s leading corporate team building and events management companies: “With any live event this year, event planners should ensure delegates still have the choice to attend the event in-person or virtually,” he said.
“Allowing the event to be streamed online reduces its carbon footprint if delegates don’t commute to and from the venue. But directing delegates through an eco-friendly search engine to access the event streaming services can take this sustainable method one step further. Search engines such as Ecosia can allow event attendees to contribute to the search engine’s advertising revenue, which in turn will be used to support global environmental causes, such as tree planting and ocean waste removal initiatives.
“Hiring local suppliers and caterers can also make an environmentally friendly impact on the sector. The local economy will be supported this way, and the suppliers will travel less of a distance to reach the venue. Of course, it’s equally important for a delegate to have information readily available that reassures that the event’s food and drinks are from sustainably sourced brands. A quick call or search through the supplier’s website will help you to determine whether the products are environmentally friendly, and importantly, this should be visibly noted on package menus and venue signage.
“Similarly, information on the venue itself should be available to access for a delegate to check the space’s eco-friendly credentials before attending an event. Factors to enquire about are whether the venue uses smart room temperature controls, recycles its own waste, and whether it uses sustainable materials.”
Sales Director of ICC Wales, Danielle Bounds, has emphasised event delegates’ renewed appreciation for the natural world post-pandemic, and how this is just as an important factor for future events alongside sustainable efforts: “Demonstrating that sustainability is at the forefront of an event, incorporating nature into the experience can also help reduce an event’s carbon footprint while helping delegates relieve stress, boost creativity and productivity, and ultimately make them more engaged. Delegates now want a fresh experience and are likely to be pickier about which events they choose to attend, favouring those which offer these benefits.
“Attendees are also more open-minded to outdoor activities, and so it is important for planners to encourage this enthusiasm no matter the weather forecast. Integrating clothing packs and clothing advice for delegates to encourage outdoor activity while keeping the event agenda flexible allows more time to be spent outdoors along with enough time to reconvene.
“The same effect can be achieved by working on the venue’s interior, and delegates will be kept at ease from the start if they witness various ways in which natural environments are integrated. This can include images of greenery across the walls, windows with access to outside views, and natural sounds and smells projected from audio and scenting equipment.”
Pushing for a sustainable future in the events industry, Ignition is the UK’s only events company to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development. Asked how we can do more for our delegates, CEO Sam Rowe touched on the importance of recyclable materials: “As more event suppliers visibly make use of sustainably sourced materials across all event platforms, it’s a given basic expectation to keep up this effort for future events. The registration areas are usually where most wasteful activities can take place, with some organisers pre-printing all badges before all the potential no-shows.
“Delegates will be glad to have more control during this process if organisers can print badges on demand instead, which curtails wastefulness. Plastic-free ticketing is now largely sought after, along with eco-friendly giveaways which can include plants and seed packets, recycled mugs, reusable tote bags, and recycled notebooks and journals.
“Making this all happen at the event not only satisfies the delegates, but it ensures that the same sustainable message gets through to every delegate for future events and expands the collective effort as an industry.”