The events industry has made great strides in addressing the issue of sustainability in recent years. This is integral to every stage of the planning process in order to minimise or offset the carbon footprint of each event and conserve resources. These actions are all a part of the larger ambitions to mitigate against the worst effects of climate change.
The Net Zero Carbon Events initiative (NZCE) is in line with both organisational targets and customer expectations, and event organisers are increasingly focused on prioritising sustainability.
The net zero carbon event initiative has five dedicated areas of action: Venue energy, smart production and waste management, food and food waste reduction, logistics and travel and accommodation.
NZCE is intended to address the complex network of businesses and organisations that are involved in the events industry. This includes everyone directly involved in the event, such as planners and organisers, food and beverage suppliers, equipment suppliers, and venues.
There are other challenges around travel and accommodation that cannot be directly addressed through the initiative, but are increasingly prioritised by planners. For example, they may take care to research venues that are centrally located for most attendees, with good access to public transport.
This reduces the need for car journeys and longer travel times. It may also involve encouraging more hybrid events that allow some guests to participate remotely rather than make a physical journey.
The NZCE have drawn up a roadmap to create a joined-up approach to steering the events industry towards Net Zero by 2050. It acknowledges the social and economic benefits of the events industry, while also setting out clear guidelines for minimising the impact on the climate.
The roadmap has been drawn up with a collaborative and cross-industry approach across 55 countries and involving over 400 organisations.
The agreed strategy to address the carbon footprint of events involves avoiding carbon intensive activities and actions as the most favoured option; reducing activities to improve efficiency; and offsetting or sequestering unavoidable emissions.
Actions that event organisers can take when planning events include conserving resources through choosing energy efficient equipment and easily accessible venues to reduce the event's carbon footprint. Wherever possible, low or renewable energy sources should be used.
Waste generation can be minimised through simple measures such as providing attendees with reusable water bottles and using recyclable materials for food packaging, utensils, and signage. There should be clearly signposted recycling bins to encourage all attendees to use the appropriate disposal methods.
Other simple steps include replacing paper signage with digital posters or signs to reduce paper waste, and working with local food and drink suppliers to minimise the carbon footprint of the catering, and selecting caterers with a transparent supply chain who work with sustainable and environmentally friendly certified farmers and food suppliers.
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