Report: Cross Association Sustainability Working Group, October 20 2016
The cross association Sustainability Working Group held its second meeting of the year at the Yorkshire Event Centre, Harrogate, on October 20 2016, with Katie Clark of Manchester Central in the chair. Clark began the meeting by thanking Richard Moorhouse of the Yorkshire Event Centre for hosting the meeting, and welcoming two new group members, Tom Revell and Kate Freeth, of GES and and Ricoh Arena respectively.
Following the reading of the apologies and the approval of the minutes of the last meeting, Clark introduced the guest speaker, Colleen Theron, sustainability lawyer and consultant with CLT Envirolaw. Theron introduced herself, explaining that her company has worked with the event industry for some time, and in the last couple of years has been involved in consulting to the event industry on The Modern Slavery Act.
Theron explained that the act affects organisations with a global annual turnover in excess of £36m, but that smaller companies could address the act as part of good practice, particularly in regard to checking whether their suppliers have a slavery and human trafficking statement in place. Theron revealed the the government is considering extending the act to cover the public sector as well.
The group found Theron's presentation very informative, and discovered that the act covers a wide range of human rights and health and safety issues in addition to modern slavery. The group noted that recruitment can be a big issue for them, given the need to use agencies to source staff for large events, and that it is prudent to work closely with the agencies and investigate their workers' pay and conditions to ensure they were reasonable and legal.
Thanking Theron for her informative presentation, the chair then moved to the meeting discussion topics, starting with the perennial issue of food waste at events and whether the group felt that the industry was any closer to finding solutions.
Jonathan Smith of Farnborough International noted that Farnborough Airshow had instituted food waste bins for the first time in 2016. The bins had been a qualified success and the Farnborough intended to continue doing so in the future. Smith explained that Farnborough was in the process of working with their waste services to determine where their food waste is going, and what the cross contamination figures were like, noting that cross contamination could be a significant obstacle, and that training for catering staff was also a part of this solution. Smith agreed to share his findings on food waste and cross contamination when the figures were available.
Osman Deen of ExCeL London noted that ExCeL's catering company are looking into a new procedure of logging and calculating all food waste figures, with a view to enumerating the financial cost of wastage, after a year of operation.
The group then briefly discussed the Sustainable Fish Cities pledge, where towns and cities pledge to buy, serve, eat and promote only sustainable fish. The initiative started in London, and the campaign's first success was to help the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games organisers to adopt a sustainable fish policy. Clark noted that the chef at Manchester Central had been approached by city representatives keen to have Manchester as one of the first UK cities to adopt the pledge. The group noted that this initiative would also be a useful agenda item for the Catering Working Group, and Kim Dance of the AEV agreed to add it to the group's agenda for the next meeting.
The group then turned its attention to the Sustainability LinkedIn Group, noting that it hadn't received much activity since its inception. There was some confusion about how to check whether group members had access to the LinkedIn Group online, and Dance advised members to log in to LinkedIn, go to the group, and check their settings to ensure they had elected to receive notifications from the site. Clark agreed to post to the LinkedIn group before the next meeting to generate some activity, and update the group on progress at the next meeting.
The group then moved on to a busy session of round table news and member updates. Richard Moorhouse updated the group on the new hall at the Yorkshire Event Centre, which has been developed specifically with sustainability in mind. The hall features solar panels on the roof, LED lighting throughout and extensive use of recycled plastic within.
Alan Pickering reported that Ricoh Arena is working on a new lighting project, with a view to installing LED lights in their hall by 2017, and revealed plans to obtain a waste compactor for the small amount of food waste currently generated at the venue.
Jonathan Smith updated the group on progress of the £30m exhibition centre at Farnborough International, which is about to break ground, and reported that the venue has been re-accredited to ISO 20121. Smith also revealed that this year's international airshow had successfully achieved zero waste to landfill again.
Sian Richards informed the group that Olympia London was now offering organisers the opportunity to visit its waste plant in Acton, and that the venue was awaiting results of its sustainability analysis.
Rachel Parker, AEV director, outlined some changes to the AEV team, with Dani Bull taking over from Sarah Appleyard as membership executive, and revealed that the association had secured a date and venue for the 2017 AEV conference, 29 June 2017 at The VOX, Birmingham.
The event will build on the success of this year's inaugural conference, holding several working groups at the venue a day before it begins, followed by an evening icebreaker event. Parker also revealed that the AEV will be refreshing its brand and launching a new website, and encouraged members to submit any ideas or feedback to the AEV to help inform the process.
Clark informed the group of Manchester Central's current focus on logistics and waste management, and that it is now giving delegate bags to charities and unsold sandwiches to homeless charities in particular.
With the round table news completed, the group turned to discussing new agenda items for the next meeting. Smith suggested that the topic of biofuels would be worth exploring, and the group agreed to try and find a guest speaker on the subject in time for the next meeting. Dance informed the group that she was talking to Steve Cartmell from NEC about finding a speaker from Severn Trent to talk about anaerobic digesters at a future meeting.
The group then proposed dates for its 2017 meetings and agreed on Wednesday 22 March at ExCeL, to coincide with the International Food Exhibition, and Thursday 19 October at a venue to be agreed.
With the formalities concluded the group then moved on to any other business. Dance informed the group that the AEV had been contacted by Positive Impact Events, a non-profit organisation devoted to creating a sustainable event industry, enquiring about whether the associations would be able to endorse their campaign. Endorsement would require approval from AEV, AEO and ESSA. The group inquired whether a representative of Positive Impact Events would be able to present to the group, and Dance agreed to investigate this possibility with them. Guest speaker Colleen Theron added that she can offer e-learning resources and discounted rates on training to members, and the group asked Dance to pursue this possibility.
With all the business concluded, Clark thanked all the members for attending and closed the meeting.