Home' micenet eMag : micenet October 2018 Contents S
ustainability is the indisputable
buzzword of 2018. ABC’s War
on Waste has returned to
screens, winning ratings time
slots and appalling more Australians than
ever before. Coles and Woolworths have
introduced single use plastic bag bans (albeit
with more backflips than a traveling circus), in
an effort to stymie their overwhelming flow
into landfill and waterways. Marketing
agencies have had a field day devising eco-
friendly slogans to gear the public into action.
Sydney Doesn’t Suck. Think Before Plastic.
The Last Straw. Paper straws are replacing
their plastic counterparts in pubs up and
down the country at a rapidity reminiscent of
the Facebook/Myspace takeover.
The verdict is in and the message is clear:
complacency with plastic waste is not cool,
and no longer an option.
Fortunately the neon-lit message has not
been lost on the business events industry, with hotels, venues and planners across Australia
joining forces to save the planet, one metal fork at a time.
In this edition, we took a look at a few of the ways event profs have done away with plastic,
and feel fantastic (any of those slogan writing gigs available?).
Forever in touch with the zeitgeist of the times, Australia’s cultural capital is making strides with
sustainability. In 2017, the Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index listed Melbourne as the
number one sustainable city for business events in the Asia-Pacific region, and it achieved 13th
place in the world overall.
CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau Karen Bolinger said the organisation is continually
developing the city’s capacity for delivering sustainable events, through sustainability proposals
across its marketing assets, a dedicated GDS-Index steering committee which brings together
stakeholders across the industry to develop eco-friendly initiatives and by connecting organisers
with sustainable suppliers.
“Melbourne Convention Bureau actively contributes to and promotes the city’s sustainability
credentials to the business events industry and abroad, and we are committed to continue to
collaborate with our industry partners to drive initiatives that support Melbourne’s
In its ‘Plan a Sustainable Event’ resource, the MCB imparts a few pearls of plastic-saving
wisdom, including minimising the use of plastic bottles by partnering with venues that provide
The business events industry has traditionally generated an alarming
amount of plastic waste. In this piece, we take a look at a few of the
ways things are changing.
GETTING WITH THE
Are responsible for five billion
tonnes of plastic ending up in
landfill and waterways.
Buy over one million plastic
water bottles each year (with
only seven per cent being
Throw out three and a half
billion plastic straws each year.
As of last year, used close to
ten billion single-use plastic
Scientists predict that by 2050,
there will be more plastic in
our oceans than fish.
SUSTAINABLE EVENTS | LAURA BRADLEY
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alternative solutions (e.g., water fountains) and avoiding plastic gift bags where possible.
On the hotel side of things, it sounds as though someone high up at DoubleTree by Hilton
Melbourne has been watching War on Waste, too. The venue has rolled out a series of
sustainability initiatives, including partnering with the City of Melbourne’s Degraves Street
Recycling Facility to divert its kitchen’s food waste from landfill (which equates to over 200
kilograms per week), and swapping plastic straws for paper (which will prevent over 3000
straws per month from ending up in landfill).
It may no longer be Australia’s biggest convention centre, but it’s certainly the one with the
biggest social conscience. Since its 2016 inception, and through a partnership with Sydney
Water, ICC Sydney has saved over one million plastic bottles by stocking its meeting rooms with
re-usable glass equivalents. In addition, the venue has prevented 12,900 kilograms of plastic
from being produced, saved over one million litres of water and around 150,000 litres of oil from
activities associated with manufacturing plastic bottles.
The venue has taken its stance on plastic one step further this year by participating in the
City of Sydney’s ‘Sydney Doesn’t Suck’ campaign and eliminating plastic straws from its
operations, replacing them with paper alternatives.
Speaking on the centre’s colossal efforts, ICC Sydney CEO Sydney Geoff Donaghy said “We
follow a mantra of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ and as a harbour-side venue, we are very conscious
of our environmental impact and particularly the potential harm of plastic to aquatic life.
“It’s imperative for large-scale venues to operate in a sustainable manner for the sake of
the environment and we are exceptionally pleased that we have already produced such
“When you consider that saving a million plastic water bottles is the equivalent of filling 2900
wheelie bins, the outcome is substantial. However, our work here is not done. We are
constantly looking for ways to minimise our environmental impact and what else we can be
doing to drive change.”
If you read Geoff’s words with a guilty side-eye at the Mount Franklin bottle on your desk,
good. Feel that guilt.
If, by some chance, you shrugged off what Geoff had to say and still plan on serving up
canapés on little plastic spoons at your next event, maybe some hard truths from CEO of the
Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia Joyce DiMascio will do the trick.
Speaking on the shift required of the business events sector, Ms DiMascio said “The business
events industry can produce a lot of waste – while some old practices
have changed, it’s time to step up and make some better
choices in the design and delivery of events.
“Sustainability is not someone else’s responsibility,
everyone can play a role to create more responsible and
“It’s not always possible to choose a green solution
all the time, sometimes cost is a major barrier – but we
all have an obligation to make the best possible
choices as often as possible and get rid of the
unnecessary trash and bad habits, now.”
To this end, the EEAA has established a working
group to tackle issues around sustainability, with the
aim of developing an industry charter. Led by EEAA
board member Leighton Wood, the group has
begun mapping current practices and sharing best
practice case studies – and has already generated
For its own events, the EEAA practices
what it preaches. Years ago, the association
ceased producing conference bags filled with
plastic items, began delivering all marketing
online and employed water stations to
replace plastic bottles. In other words,
the rest of us need to start playing catch
It’s already the cream of Australia’s festival
crop, but Adelaide can now add eco-friendly
pioneer to its impressive repertoire. The
Adelaide Convention Centre has just become
the first joint convention centre in the world
to achieve the EarthCheck Platinum
Certification, which represents best practice
in sustainability and reflects 10 years of
certification with EarthCheck – the world’s
leading scientific benchmark for travel
The centre has done a bunch of inspiring
work in this realm – including its participation
in the Trees for Life revegetation program –
but its latest focus has been the war it’s
waged on plastic. So far, its offensives have
included converting to biodegradable cups
and lids for hot and cold drinks, employing
‘bio bins’ across the venue to prevent them
ending up in landfill and doing away with
plastic straws. Keep up the good fight,
What we can do
Well, aside from the obvious – like ditching
plastic bags, straws and other useless bits
of paraphernalia destined for the garbage –
each and every convention bureau in
the country can put you in touch with
eco-friendly suppliers, and provide
A lot is being done in the industry to curb
plastic waste, but there’s still a long way to
go. Half way through writing this article, I was
quite disheartened to attend a cocktail event
with a table full of plastic bottles.
Earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth banned
plastic straws and bottles across all royal
estates. Now, her budget may have differed
from theirs a little... but surely if the Queen of
England can go without plastic water bottles,
we could have done so as well. m
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