Green Stars, Garbage, and Going Digital: The evolution of sustainable events
Continuing our exploration of key event trends for 2022, this month we take a look at the why, what and how of planning and producing more sustainable events (spoiler alert: it might be easier than you might think.)
Quick quiz: In the current post-COVID, pre-election, rising-interest-rate socio-political landscape, can you name one issue that more than nine out of ten Australians considers a major concern? If you answered ‘the environment and sustainability’ - ding, ding, ding! Winner, winner (organic, non-GMO, vegan) chicken dinner!
In the current market there is a growing expectation for everyone in the events industry to maintain a laser focus on sustainability, with most major venues adopting robust sustainability strategies and engaging environmental specialists to help customers access, plan and deliver more sustainable events. A comprehensive and rigorous sustainability strategy is increasingly shifting from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’ for venues and producers looking to maintain a competitive advantage. And with around 65% of consumers asserting that they’re prepared to pay more for products that are both sustainable and environmentally friendly, mandating a focus on minimising environmental impact is a move that makes sense for the both the planet, and your bottom line.
So what does this look like in practical terms, and how can you ensure you’re making informed choices to help create and champion a more sustainable events industry?
There are a few simple ways to up your event sustainability without sacrificing success. First off, check their credentials. A comprehensive and ambitious sustainability strategy should be non-negotiable, and should include commitments to energy efficiency and renewable energy targets, biodiversity and conservation, waste and resource recovery, and ethical procurement policies and practices (for a start…). Also look for third-party certification from organisations like Green Star , EarthCheck or B-Corp (for example), as these are a universal and unequivocal way for organisations to evidence that they’re genuinely doing the work when it comes to reducing environmental impact. It’s a simple and easy way to ensure you’re working with a venue and suppliers that are committed to sustainable practices both now and for the long-term.
Virtual or hybrid events, as well as smaller, more customised in-person events are also a highly effective way to reduce your event’s carbon footprint without sacrificing ROI. Virtual and hybrid events will play a huge role in creating a more sustainable events industry, so choose a venue that can deliver a seamless, high-impact digital alternative to in-person events, that includes state-of-the-art event tech, tailored and on-demand content, and in-house tech expertise.
Sustainable food practices are also a key consideration when choosing a venue for in-person or hybrid events. Venues should have formal food sustainability policies in place that include avoiding problematic single-use plastic and using reusable cups and recyclable/reusable food packaging. This should be supported by technology that tracks food wastage and informs product ordering to minimise excess. Consider engaging a food rescue charity like OzHarvest so your leftovers don’t become landfill.
There are, of course, many more ways to increase the sustainability of an event (encouraging attendance by public transport, choosing plant-based menus) but if you’re looking for a place to start, these three are easy and effective ways to ensure you’re helping create a brighter, better future for the events industry and the planet.