IMEX 2016: 4 top tips for international sustainable events

MCI's Roger Simons revealed key advice for event planners incorporating sustainability into their international events at IMEX 2016.

MCI's Roger Simons
MCI's Roger Simons

In an education session at IMEX 2016, MCI’s regional sustainability director for Asia Pacific, Roger Simons, offered advice for making events more sustainable when working over a range of international locations. He referred to a series of events MCI worked on for IT company SAP, in locations as diverse as China, India, Germany and California.

  • Align your social projects to the brand

"When deciding to incorporate social projects to help the community into events, smart alignment is key," said Simons. "For example, when we were working with SAP on their events, we looked at how we could help with local STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education programmes, with them being a technology brand."

  • Think FLOSS for food 

Simons explained that when looking at caterers they used the acronym FLOSS: fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable.

He said: "It’s very important to get the food right, and luckily at the moment using local produce is very in, and top restaurants are even using foraging techniques. This can also be easier in different countries, for example we found that in India they are great at using local suppliers and traditionally putting together vegetarian menus, which are very sustainable. In China it was a lot harder."

Simons also advised that when event planners were using seafood in international meetings, they should check the WWF website to see which fish should be served in each country, and which were low in supply and shouldn’t be being caught.

  • Think about alternative means of transport

"Whenever possible, favour transport that runs off biofuel or electricity," he said. "Otherwise, newer planes are more sustainable than older ones. If travelling by bus, use an ‘anti-idling’ policy and make sure the engine isn’t kept running while its doing pick-ups. Also, encourage carpooling to get to events. At one of our SAP events we created an app where delegates could find someone to carpool with."

  • Look at innovative ways to tackle event production

Simons encouraged event planners to rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle when it comes to production. He advised that planners should consider whether things needed to be printed and whether they could be used in digital form. He also suggested money could be saved by cutting out things such as delegate bags. 

"At the SAP events we tried to design posters and branding that could be taken back to the company headquarters and used again. For the event in China, we did this the other way round and took furniture from the office canteen to use at the event. Things like this really save cash, as well as increase sustainability." 

More:

6 of the best... UK sustainable venues

MCI partners with ICCA to launch sustainability index

Events industry needs sustainability focus, says MCI's Guy Bigwood

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