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It was during the Albertville Winter Olympics 1992 (hosted in France) that events-related environmental concerns were voiced in public. This led to the first ‘Green Games’ in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. The organising committee behind the Lillehammer ‘Green Games’ was awarded with the UNEP Global 500 Award recognising their efforts in setting the bar for environmental responsibility in events.
From there, sustainable events management was born.
Also known as ‘Event Greening,’ this is the process used by event organisers and planners to produce an event that places emphasis on the environmental, economical, and social issues associated with an event.
Sustainable events management uses socially and environmentally responsible steps and decision making throughout the planning and organization stages, and all the way to the execution phase. With the following benefits, it’s no surprise that more and more organisations are waving the green flag:
BUT Are You Ready?
It sounds exciting on paper – organising a exhibition or conference while keeping everything green, eco-friendly, and sustainable. Yes, it is exciting…even more so if you are genuinely passionate about keeping Mother Nature happy.
However, it’s far from easy.
To successfully run an entirely sustainable event, there are many things you need to understand and factors you need to take into consideration – things that go beyond managing your waste such as:
It can be tough taking the plunge head-first but that doesn’t mean you can’t take ‘baby steps’ to improve the eco-friendliness of your event.
Yes, there are many nuances to sustainable events management and you need to understand this as an organiser. If you have a forthcoming event however, you may not have the time to fully integrate everything. But hey, you don’t have to!
While running a 100% sustainable event is the ideal scenario, you can take small steps instead…and you can start by making recycling – one of the 3 R’s of waste management and reduction – a core part of your event. Here’s a quick guide to help you:
Step 1: Get The Whole Team In On The Act
You might have a strong desire to recycle at your up-and-coming conference or exhibition. What about the rest of the team? Successfully running an event is a team effort and so is recycling as much waste as possible AFTER the doors close. If your event is run by a committee, ensure that your recycling and waste management efforts have their full support.
Step 2: Pay More Attention To Packaging
Different events produce different types of waste. What you can be sure of, however, is that a significant amount of packaging waste – tons of beverage containers, food wrappers, etc. – will be left behind after the event. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense to pay more attention to the types of packaging used by your suppliers, sponsors, and staff.
By being specific about the types of packaging and materials that suppliers, caterers, retailers, and stall holders must adhere to, you ensure that they play their role in recycling by using packaging that suits your recycling program.
It’s important to note that not all packaging materials can be easily recycled. The list below will give you a better idea of which materials are ‘recycling-friendly’:
Step 3: Label The Bins With The RIGHT Signage
Some waste can be recycled, some not. Others are biodegradable while many like plastic won’t decompose for up to 30 years. To avoid spending more time sifting through the waste bins than you should, you want to segregate your waste better by developing uniform and eye-catching signs for your recycling stations and bins.
You need your signs to be clear and very easy to understand. This ensures that wherever people go and whenever they see your signage, they can easily recognise which type of waste should be thrown in which bin. You may also want to take this a step further by developing information literature for your audience – one that creates excitement for your event and provides education on your waste management efforts.
Without going too deep into design principles, here are some good rules of thumb to follow when designing standard signs and information literature for your event’s recycling program:
Step 4: Be Mindful Of The Location / Placement
The whole team along with your suppliers, caterers, and others have committed to the recycling program. You’ve signed a contract with a reliable recycling and waste management services provider. And to top it all off, the recycling stations’ designs are sure to catch people’s attention at your event. But here comes the question…
What about the attendees? How will you get them to cooperate with your event waste management efforts?
It’s impossible for you to ‘police’ each and every individual who attends your event, and you wouldn’t want to do that to be honest. What you can do, however, is make it easier for your attendees to dispose their waste properly…and location / placement is key.
Place your recycling stations and general waste bins in strategic locations – locations that are high in traffic and easily accessible. It’s also important that you have general bins close to your designated recycling stations. That way, all options and types of waste – recyclable or otherwise – are taken care of within that location. Waste bins should be strategically placed at the following types of locations:
Step 5: Evaluate Your Performance After The Event
You measure your event’s success by looking into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as amount of tickets sold, number of attendees, engagement levels, and those are just to name a few. Doing so gives you a valuable insight into the factors that impacted the event’s success, pinpoint which issues or problem areas need your attention and how you can improve the next conference, exhibition, or concert that you’ll organise.
In the same way, your event’s waste management and recycling program needs thorough evaluation when the fun and games are over. Granted, KPIs vary from one type of event to another but having said that, here are some metrics you may want to pay close attention to:
We hope the above can help encourage you to take the positive steps towards a more evironmentally friendly event! We will be discussing more aspects of eco-events in future blog posts so would love to hear your feedback.
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