sustainability / 6 minute read

Sustainable live events are in. Are you doing enough to reduce event waste?

Written by Kate Halpin

3 April 2023

There’s a lot of different factors that create waste at events, from plastic cutlery and cups to signage and name tags. There’s also food, which the average event wastes between 15%-20% of. The events industry wastes up to 10% of everything it produces, with the typical attendee producing 1.89kg of waste per day, 1.16kg of which goes directly to landfill. And with our commitments to net-zero coming up, these figures aren’t cutting it.

But how? The live events industry is massive, right? So how are we supposed to make it green overnight? In reality, we can’t but there’s a whole bunch of brilliantly innovative and fairly easy ways to start chipping away at those percentages.

Sustainability starts at the very beginning of your project 

RS6619_DSCF924872At the very initial stages of your project is where you need to start thinking about how to find and implement these sustainable changes into your live event. It’s important to ask yourself and those you’re working with how this can be done throughout the lifecycle of your project what little changes could make a huge difference, and what other companies are doing too.

Here’s a few suggestions we give to our clients to help them make more sustainable choices:

Make the switch to a digital app rather than using printed collateral, such as sign up and comms to reduce paper wastage 

Reduce food wastage where possible by only ordering the correct amount for delegates and donating leftovers to local food banks 

Choose a centralised venue close to delegates with plenty of ways to access via public transport  

Encourage shared travel – even putting on coaches for up to 50 people at a time rather than having 50 cars on the road 

Encourage generic branding to reuse set pieces which we already have available in the warehouse; not only does this save waste, it saves money too!

Link sustainability to your corporate goals 

There’s plenty of benefits to incorporating sustainability into your corporate strategy. It can actually help to reduce costs and affect operating profits by up to 60%, while also increasing productivity, as companies with an inclusive culture have a 27% higher profitability and a 22% greater productivity.

You might find it handy to base your sustainability goals on the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, like us! Where possible, try and weave the importance of sustainability into talks and sessions to spread the word and get everyone on the same page.

Use our handy sustainability app 

Picture172We’ve been on a sustainability journey for the past 15+ years, with the 17 UN sustainable goals mentioned above sitting at the heart of what we do. There’s plenty of innovative solutions out there to help the journey to sustainable events, with event tech like HOLOPLOT and Ghost Frame championing accessibility at new and exciting levels. With all these new solutions on offer, we wanted to build an accessible app that allows users to see exactly how sustainable their event is. This simple and extremely user-friendly app was developed alongside our external consultant Sam Wilson to ensure it hits the touchpoints and captures key information about an event that the user inputs.

Using various calculations against certain criteria and a complex algorithm, an analytical report is then produced that shows how sustainable an event is, as well as an ESAP score that can be assessed and reviewed throughout the planning process to highlight key areas where positive improvements can be made. Not only that but the report can also be used to make recommendations for future improvements to increase the sustainability score. The app also lets you compare different events as well as the same event year-on-year, making it a fantastic tracking tool to mark a client’s sustainability journey.

As we begin 2023, we’re going to use this innovative app with our clients throughout the project lifecycle to make their events more sustainable!

The Three P’s  

Ever heard of the triple bottom line? Sustainability isn’t just about the planet, it’s people and profit too. If people feel rewarded and have amazing events, they’re likely to work harder and produce higher profits. In the same way, inclusivity within global live events is vital, and again by producing inclusive, accessible experiences they are more likely to feel valued by you and have a positive experience with your brand. It’s important to focus on all three elements equally. Not only are they equally as important, they feed into each other, and it certainly will make your journey to a more sustainable event much easier!

Creating sustainable live events across the globe won’t happen overnight. But we are getting there. It’s everybody’s responsibility to contribute to sustainability, and as we discover new, exciting ways to make this happen, the only way is up, and we can learn from previous experiences to develop even more sustainable practices going forward. 

Want to see more about our live events? Check out our case studies here.