Putting sustainability at the heart of your event


has reached its tipping point. No longer simply a “nice to have,” it’s now a top priority for governments, companies and individuals. 

This new attitude should not stop the hosting of successful brand events, but it does mean that both brands and their agencies need to be more conscious of their actions and set themselves higher standards. The challenge is best tackled from both sides. 


What can brands do?

  • Brands set the tone. They should set out their expectations for their agency and its suppliers in their brief.
  • Brands should challenge their agency to use its creativity to integrate sustainability in ways that challenge and delights their guests.
  • Sustainability should not be done quietly.
  • It’s ok for a brand to be honest and admit that there is more to do, while challenging their customers or guests to play their part in taking steps forward.

What can events agencies do?

  • An agency’s sustainability credentials should be a key part of how it pitches for new business and retains business with its existing clients.
  • Agencies work with many brands and see how each meets the sustainability challenge. Learnings should be taken from every event to promote a culture of continuous improvement.
  • High standards should be demanded of all sub-contractors to ensure that they are met throughout an event’s supply chain.

How can ‘Gold Standard’ sustainability manifest itself at an event?


Venue selection

  • Venue selection is a crucial part of any event. Now, as well as the attributes of the venue itself, consideration should be given to how guests will travel to it and the proximity of their accommodation.
  • Brands and agencies should be prepared to host their event closer to home rather than abroad and should also consider how many people need to attend.

Event stands and ‘special build’ infrastructure

  • Events are short and designed to impress so it’s important that they’re not wasteful. All build materials should be recycled and properly fed back into the recycling process.
  • If possible, modular infrastructure should be used and stored and then ‘re-skinned’ across multiple events. In the long term this can also be cost-effective.

Rental Assets

  • From LED lighting to furniture made from recycled materials, attention should be given to the sustainability credential of the items that you rent. Agencies should be open to changing suppliers or demanding more from existing partners.


Wage war on single-use plastic

  • From the lanyard round the delegate’s neck and the cup they drink coffee from to the bag they take home with them –consideration can be given to how the use of all plastics should be minimised.
  • Don’t stop at the ‘easy wins’. Review everything from the vinyl used on stands to behind-the-scenes catering and look for continuous improvements.

Marketing collateral

  • Glossy brochures and marketing materials are staples of many events but often end up in hotel bins.
  • Look instead to technology to provide digital marketing materials that can be sent straight to a delegate’s mailbox or downloaded.
  • As well as cutting waste these can be personalised and can be the start of an on-going digital dialogue between a customer and a brand.

Event invitations, scheduling and preparation

  • Nothing says ‘premium’ like a beautifully designed invitation arriving by post, but digital options are both environmentally friendly and more practical.
  • Purpose built apps or digital portals can also streamline the organisation of travel, accommodation, seminar attendance and networking.

Refreshments, food and catering

  • As well as making sure there are vegetarian and vegan options as standard, consideration should be given to sourcing local and seasonal ingredients to minimise food miles.
  • Events can also generate unintended food waste, but this can be put to good use by partnering with one of the many companies that either sells excess food to willing buyers or donates it to a local homeless charity.


Waste management

  • Make it easy for your guests to do the right thing with well-labelled recycling bins.
  • Set high standards behind the scenes and ensure recycling isn’t compromised in the pressure to wrap up an event.
  • Ensure that all sub-contractors are contractually bound to adhere to your high standards.

Embrace the change

  • Most important of all is the need to accept that a lot of small actions add up to a big change and that your actions do make a difference. Making your event as sustainable as possible should be worn as a badge of pride.\

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