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30 Jun 2016

Report: The cross association Sustainability Working Group - 11th May


The cross association Sustainability Working Group convened its first meeting of the year on Wednesday May 11 at Olympia London, with Katie Clarke of Manchester Central in the chair and a guest speaker from International Synergies, Ian Humphries.

Clarke, chairing the group for the first time, thanked Siân Richards and Olympia London for hosting the meeting, and after the apologies and approval of the last minutes, she introduced the guest speaker from International Synergies Ltd.

Ian Humphries began his presentation by reviewing the information that the group had put together on their specific waste management requirements, in order to present the most relevant content, and then went on to explain the concept of the circular economy and what practical steps would bring venues and events closer to a zero waste industry.

The importance of finding the right partners, particularly local businesses, to keep waste products and materials circulating was highlighted by Humphries. He pointed the group to the Dame Ellen MacArthur Foundation's website which features a good explanatory video about the circular economy.

The group discussed industrial symbiosis, where one industry's waste is another's raw materials, and raised the issues of waste storage, waste ownership, back to back shows and other obstacles to circulating and re-using waste generated by events.

With the presentation concluded, Clarke thanked Humphries for coming to the meeting and agreed to circulate a copy of the International Synergies' presentation to members of the group with the minutes of the meeting.

In a change to the agenda, the meeting then moved to take in round table news and member updates, which proved to be a busy and informative item. Members from venues all around the country were reporting a great deal of positive news, including new halls, awards won, new online ordering systems launched and progress towards ISO20121.

After the round table news, Siân Richards of Olympia addressed the first discussion topic, how to engage staff in sustainability issues. Richards described the difficulty of getting staff at all levels engaged with sustainability, and some possible strategies that might help. The group recognised that training and education can be a challenge when people are working against the clock. Osman Deen of ExCeL London reported that he had taken the cleaning teams to the Biffa waste facility to see the waste process in action. Deen suggested that the trip really helped the cleaning staff to understand the importance of their role in waste management and has proved beneficial.

The next discussion topic centred on the issue of food waste, and prompted a great deal of discussion, with members expressing some concern that it wasn't being adequately addressed from a sustainability standpoint. Members recounted initiatives that involved collecting different kinds of food waste in coloured bags, and where possible giving unused food away, but none of these solutions had worked fully. The group felt that there was no existing solution to food waste that would satisfy sustainability criteria, and new ideas needed to be explored..

After discussing food waste the group assessed how members were using technology to go green and the importance and benefit, or otherwise, of ISO20121 certification, before looking to the agenda items for the next meeting. The date and venue of the next meeting was announced as Thursday October 20 2016 at the Yorkshire Event Centre, after which Clarke thanked all the members for attending and closed the meeting.



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