May 20, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has partnered up with six RMIT students on a sustainability project to eliminate single-use plastic from the venue’s events and cafes by 2025.

The students, who are part of the university’s industry partnership program Impact Academy, have been tasked with taking a circular economy approach to the challenge, looking at ways to design out waste and keep materials in use.

“It’s a unique opportunity for industry to solve real challenges by collaborating with university students,” said MCEC’s Sustainability Manager, Samantha Ferrier, who is coordinating the project.

“The students are highly self-motivated and passionate and are taught to apply a design and systems thinking approach.

“Our team at MCEC is really excited to see the solutions that the students come up with because eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic is something we’ve been working towards for some time.

“It’s important that the events industry is doing all we can to prevent waste by redesigning the system,” she said.

Julie Stevens, Partnerships Manager at RMIT Activator – which runs the program from the university side – said Impact Academy has mutual benefits for industry and students.

“[It] can make a positive difference to our future workforce.

“Students gain valuable experience working with real industry challenges and developing professional skills in a real world setting while completing their university studies.

“Plus, businesses have direct access to a niche market of students to take on challenges that may provide new opinions/mindsets/skillsets.”

Feedback from participating students has also shown how the program illuminates the niche business roles such as Ferrier’s within the workforce.