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Optimising sustainability at debut European Coffee Expo

As one of the founders of the British Standard for sustainable event management, Olympia London is a leader in event sustainability and, after having played an instrumental role in developing ISO 20121, was the first venue to be certified to this standard.

In 2017 the company formed a committee to drive a new in-house sustainability initiative, named ‘The Grand Plan’. Focusing on three key areas: community, education and environment, the venue strives to leave a positive impact in all areas of influence. 

To encourage its clients, Olympia London provides industry expertise free of charge, providing event sustainability reports and supporting organisers’ objectives. Most recently, the award-wining venue worked with the debut European Coffee Expo, implementing bespoke initiatives at the event held from 22nd – 23rd May.

In collaboration with the event organiser, Olympia London instigated a project to increase separation of waste on site. This is especially relevant as an effective waste separation minimises cross contamination of materials which in turn, reduces the proportion of recyclables being discarded.  Since 2011, 98% of all waste produced in the venue is recycled (this previously stood at 95%) and the remaining 2% is converted into waste for energy. In addition, all food waste is sent for anaerobic digestion to produce bio-fuel.

To facilitate increased on-site separation, European Coffee Expo made available two recycling stations on the exhibition floor, whilst the venue provided dedicated collection bins to separate cardboard and paper, glass, food waste, including coffee grounds produced from stand demonstrations, cups, plastic and cans. A stand collection service also ensured that waste produced by exhibitors during the event was separated at source.
This is a particularly welcome initiative, as optimising waste segregation on site reduces the impact on the environment in two ways: as other recyclable materials can be contaminated by food waste, separating them on site allows a larger amount of material to be recycled. Additionally, reducing contamination of materials by optimising segregation also leads to less material being incinerated for energy, which can indirectly contribute to CO2 emissions.  

At the European Coffee Expo, the bespoke partnership between venue and organiser made on-the-spot recycling more efficient and achievable, resulting in 3,000 disposable coffee cups and 0.5 m3 of plastic bottles being separated on site.
To enhance the visitor experience, Olympia London provided informative displays at the recycling stations which described the recycling process for each type of waste collected. 
Marisa Beckman from Inovent and Operations Manager for European Coffee Expo, says: “European Coffee Expo was delighted to be part of Olympia London’s new initiative. With the focus so much now on single use plastics, in particular takeaway coffee cups, it was hugely beneficial to be able to dispose of coffee cups in a sustainable and ecologically friendly way.  By providing increased separation on site, we showcased to visitors the benefits and ease of increased separation at source, whilst also supporting our exhibitors’ own sustainability policies and aims.”

Olympia London works closely with event organisers to help to maximise their sustainability credentials, and encourages them to discuss any ideas with their respective event managers.  
Siân Richards, Olympia London’s Business Services & Sustainability Manager, says: “One of the key objectives of our Grand Plan is to collaborate with our partners and clients to improve the sustainability of events held at our venue. Working with the organisers of European Coffee Expo provided the ideal opportunity to showcase some of the ways in which we can help each other and the environment.”

To learn more about Olympia London’s sustainability programme, visit: olympia.london/sustainability