Can a large event really be sustainable?

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Taking on a flagship event for a new exciting project can be a daunting experience. Add to it the task of adhering to a sustainable events policy can make things a little more tricky.

The Innovation in Scotland’s Energy Storage Event on the 20th of February was certainly a baptism of fire! Here’s some insight into how it all came together, with sustainability at its core.

Things to consider when running a sustainable event are varied, from online bookings, to sustainable food packaging to marketing materials that can be re-used. We quickly realised that if we were to do it right, it would involve much more than going paperless!

To begin with, we used an online registration and ticketing system with no need for print outs.  Through this system we distributed the agenda, slides and delegates lists in advance. We also used this to encourage sustainable travel, advertising sustainable transport routes, local bus timetables and encouraged car share.

We used social media channels, email and word of mouth to advertise the event to reduce postal costs.

All exhibitors and speakers were encouraged to only bring the bare minimum in printed materials, making sure their website and email addresses were visible to direct people to online communication rather than printed matter.

We had a great planning session with our catering company BaxterStorey, who embraced the sustainable requirements. They replaced usual plastic packaging with biodegradable packaging and dine ware. Everything served was finger food reducing the need for additional cutlery waste. The food was even served in biodegradable box platters. And all leftovers were shared in the Michelin canteen for staff to enjoy. The food itself was brilliant and drew a lot of positive feedback and a large part (beyond good taste) was the thought given to ensure it was as sustainable as it could be.

We made best use of our local suppliers to limit the carbon footprint of deliveries. We used re-usable name badges, that were collected upon exit. And waste was recycled appropriately.

We used screens throughout the room on the day, with no print outs and digitally circulated presentations after the event. This reduced further waste and additional printing costs.

We did a pretty good job for our first event.  What was the one thing we took away for next time? That a sustainable events policy is a great idea.

If you break things down into smaller parts, a sustainable event can be achieved without sacrificing the quality of the event. If anything, it gave additional impact to our event. And clearly showed that MSIP is here to create a greener future for people, place and planet.

To read more of our ideas on running a sustainable event, you can read our Sustainable Events Plan here –  MSIP Sustainable Events Plan.

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