According to the Event Greening Forum, the typical conference attendee produces 1.89kg of waste each day, of which 1.16kg will end up in a landfill.

Carmen Wagener, Operations Director of Reed Exhibitions Africa says the company’s waste reduction policy is continually reviewed and fine-tuned to implement solutions wherever possible.

“While Covid-19 has been huge distraction to global progress on sustainability, it has also offered us an opportunity to reset and reshape our events, offices and local environments for maximum sustainability,” says Wagener.

“Our greening policy and procedures include seeking out and recommending venues that have a sound greening policy and monitoring the carbon footprint of events and implementing steps to counteract them.”

Wagener says Reed Exhibitions Africa is constantly stepping up energy saving and fine-tuning waste management, with a view to re-used or recycle waste wherever possible.

“Our exhibition manuals provide operational guidelines for exhibitors at all events, and include environmental checklists that cover sustainable stand design, waste management, energy consumption, carbon emissions, signage, catering and promotional materials.

“This is a large part of our commitment to event sustainability and knowing that we encourage exhibitors to work with us is an important factor in our initiatives.”

Active participation in greening of exhibitions, travel

Having been involved in greening for several years, Wagener notes that actively promoting the move from a culture of waste to one of sustainability sets the bar higher for corporations and individuals, generating a lasting positive impact on the planet.

“Our travel shows, for example, go above and beyond what is expected to reduce their own and their industry’s impact on the environment through initiatives such as World Travel Market’s Responsible Tourism Programme, the largest of its kind in the world that focuses on responsible tourism efforts in the travel industry,” she says.

Reed Exhibitions Africa’s planned update of all its green guidelines will take effect in 2021, as events are allowed to return to the events calendar. These will set a benchmark against which the company can meet and improve their efforts as new solutions come to market.

“One of our major drives is to promote the use of printed fabric graphics to our clients,” says Wagener. “They provide the ideal solution for reusable exhibition display as they can be compacted for storage, transported in small tubes or parcels and installed quickly and easily without the need for tools. 

“While some may argue that face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past in our digitally connected, globalised world, in-person meetings and trade events are of vital importance to get decisions made and drive progress in any discipline,” she asserts, adding that working with clients to reduce their ecological footprint means not only opting for digital where appropriate, but always following current best practise to outweigh the cons of the travel and materials involved. 

Digital as a contributor to greening

According to Wagener, digital has enabled Reed Exhibitions Africa a number of opportunities to implement planet-friendly options. These include:

  • Digital signage at exhibitions
  • Electronic brochures
  • E-ticketing where possible
  • Event apps to provide exhibitors and visitors with information
  • Reusable printed fabrics

Reed Exhibitions Africa has encouraged the use of recyclable and/or reusable products among its exhibitors, as well as the industries that work alongside them to make the events enjoyable for attendees, such as plates, cups and eating utensils.

“We believe that every small step towards greening any industry is a huge step towards reducing what ends up in landfills. As a responsible company, we constantly monitor ways to help exhibitors go green, while keeping an eye on our own sustainability. It is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a business imperative,” Wagener says.

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