AEV/AEO/ESSA Sustainability Working Group meeting, October 1 2015
The cross association Sustainability Working Group, which is convened by the Association of Event Venues, had its final meeting of 2015 at The Crystal, London, on 1 October 2015. The chair, Sîan Richards of Olympia, welcomed some new faces to the well attended meeting before embarking on the business of the day.
The guest speaker for the event was Ruth Holdroyd of Oakleaf Business Solutions, who introduced 'The MICE machine', a resource set up to encourage and support greater sustainability amongst the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions/events industry. After introducing 'The MICE Machine', Ruth went on to examine the significance of ISO20121 – the international standard accreditation for sustainable events and the benefits of accreditation and the obstacles to achieving it. She explained how ISO20121, and BS8901 before it, had been drafted by event specialists as a voluntary standard, and what the various certificate options were.
The working group then discussed their own experiences of ISO 20121 certification, with some members reporting they were minded not to renew their certification. Ruth Holdroyd took the opportunity to highlight other certification standards that might be more appropriate including ISO 5001 and ISO 14001 which are tailored to sustainable environmental and energy practices respectively.
There followed an insightful presentation from David McDonald of Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre( AECC) charting the its journey to ISO 20121 certification, and how it forged partnerships with recycling and green waste firms to drive down the amount of waste it sent to landfill.
David detailed the progress of AECC since 2003, following its ambition to create a fully sustainable business, and rounded off his presentation with a short video of the new AECC venue destined to open in 2018.
In the round table discussion that followed, several topics and issues were raised including how venues cope with food waste. Members discussed the disadvantages of macerators, and the legal pitfalls of giving unsold sandwiches to charity, as well as other options for waste disposal like de-watering plants, waste compactors and wormeries.
The group agreed to announce the vacancy for a new chair for the group following the departure of Paul Jenkins from the NEC.
The meeting ended after a positive round up of members' venue news, and a call for better representation on the group from ESSA and AEO members.