By Laura Bradley
In light of last week’s update to MEA’s Green Event Checklist, we sat down with (read: had an email exchange with) CEO of MEA Robyn Johnson to find out more about sustainability in today’s events climate.
Laura: What is the Green Events Checklist and why the update?
Robyn: The Green Events Checklist was first published in 2007 by Tourism Australia and has since been used and promoted by Meetings & Events Australia (MEA). It was designed to assist organisers deliver events that have a minimal impact on our environment.
Given it was more than a decade since it was developed, MEA has reviewed the content to ensure it is still relevant and updated it to include details on new or expanded programs that are now available to the industry to reduce the impact of events on the environment.
We’re releasing the updated checklist as a reminder to event organisers to periodically review their operating practices – maximising what they reduce, reuse, recycle or offset.
Laura: What changes in the industry over the past decade have necessitated the update?
Robyn: New technology has had a big impact on how events are organised and that has often resulted in reduced waste.
In the last decade, Australia has built new infrastructure or upgraded and expanded many of its existing venues. Many have been recognised for their leadership in sustainability by incorporating smart design strategies.
Laura: What would you say to planners who view sustainability as too daunting or costly?
Robyn: Aspiring to deliver sustainable events doesn’t need to be either of those things. The majority of the items on the checklist encourage organisers to make simple changes or introduce practices that are easy to implement.
Developing an environmental policy for an organisation that can be shared with clients and suppliers is fairly straightforward. Today many companies already have an environmental policy in place as part of their business plans in order to minimise operational overheads.
Laura: Can you recommend five initial steps event planners can take to incorporate sustainability into their events?
- Develop an overall environmental action policy for your company and review all your practices for the delivery of events.
- Manage your attendance numbers effectively. This will reduce food wastage and also save on the event budget.
- Educate clients by highlighting your sustainable practices. If the events industry promotes the value of sustainable practices it will become an essential criteria of the procurement process of our clients.
- Promote the sustainable practices of your events in promotional material and on the website. Again, this will highlight the importance of sustainability to wider audiences.
- Question and review your processes annually and explore new technologies or services that can assist in keeping waste to a minimum.