The UK is committed to achieving net zero by 2050. Due to its scale and reach, the events industry can make an impact on achieving the UK goal and Olympia London was one of the first venues in the UK to commit to the Net Zero Carbon Pledge.
The international events industry initiative is supported by the UN Climate Change Secretariat with the goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 at the latest.
But what now? How can the events industry accomplish this goal?
Recognising interdependence and collaboration
The commitment is just the first step. It marks a new era, a bigger ambition and therefore a new mindset for each company that signs up. The events industry’s supply chain is complex. So, even if one company could become net zero on its own, it would struggle to dent the wider environmental impact of the industry as a whole. So as some business take on external consultants to help review the carbon impacts specific to their business operations to plan their roadmap, we also need to consider how the industry as a whole can meet the net zero goal.
Our interdependence is key and collaboration is crucial. As the venue’s commercial director Anna Golden says: “Partnerships have been essential to achieve and maintain zero-to-landfill and high recycling rates for over a decade at Olympia London; and will also be crucial to achieve net zero. As an industry, nurturing strong collaborations with event organisers and partners is absolutely necessary to bring the industry together to achieve this goal.”
Connecting with value-aligned partners
The strong interconnected nature of the events industry is one of the reasons for ensuring that companies in the supply chain share common values and goals. As governments and individual businesses aim at the net zero target, working with partners with common goals will heavily influence a company’s future investment and revenue opportunities, and therefore its success. Both businesses and consumers increasingly assess sustainability credentials in their decision-making processes.
To achieve its zero-to-landfill status for example, Olympia London partnered with Powerday, the UK’s market-leading waste management and recycling services; as well as Simply Cups for specialist hot beverage cups recycling.
Food waste has been carefully managed with partnerships to distribute surplus, separate for anaerobic digestion and other initiatives which have reduced food waste by 9%.
Making it sustainable, each event at a time
An event organiser’s roadmap to net zero will be different to a venue’s or any other suppliers. It’s a big challenge to consider the environmental impact of all the elements that go into delivering each event, as well as the day-to-day running of a business.
In addition to working with organisers on bespoke sustainable solutions, the venue compiles data from across a number of measurable factors in an event, and produces a free, user-friendly event sustainability report. This enables organisers to review how sustainable an event was and set goals for the future.
Nurturing open dialogue
As the world and consumers become more aware of sustainability, it’s ever more important to be specific about objectives and very transparent. It’s all about honesty and working together towards industry sustainability.
Anna Golden says: “There must be dialogue between diverse areas within the industry and outwardly with other industries to find areas of intersection and solutions. Our goal is to keep the dialogue open and collaborate as much as possible to find creative ways to make sustainability the norm at each event.”