Lead Forensics

On the Path to Fully Sustainable Events

February 18, 2020 Kevin Edmunds

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One of the more interesting things that happens in the week leading up to the Super Bowl—much more interesting than all the pre-game publicity, actually—is the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a pro golf tournament that draws a staggering 700,000 people to the TPC Scottsdale golf course over six days.

I think that meeting and incentive planners will likely find the most compelling aspect of the golf tournament is this: The event’s manager, Waste Management, claims that the 732 metric tons of carbon emissions generated at the event is wiped clean by carbon-offset purchases made by the company. Further, 99.4 percent of all waste generated at the event plus a majority of the fresh water used at the event are recycled. In total, all these efforts make the six-day event perhaps the most perfectly sustainable large event in the world.

Let’s get more into the details: 53 percent of the waste from the event (food and beverage packaging, etc.) gets recycled; 27 percent (mostly food waste) gets composted; and five percent (construction materials, hard goods, and certain plastics) gets donated to other organizations that will reuse the materials. And the 0.6 percent of event waste that cannot be recycled, composted, or reused gets sent to a gas-to-energy facility right in the city of Phoenix, so it does not end up in a landfill.

Seeing that Waste Management is the largest company in the world for handling disposed materials (a.k.a. trash), it’s not realistic to expect most meetings, incentives, conventions, and trade shows to replicate that level of waste recycling and reuse right now. But there is plenty that planners of those types of events can do to minimize waste and also minimize the impact of any carbon emissions from their events.

A recent article on MeetingsNet.com (https://www.meetingsnet.com/event-design-ideas/event-sustainability-news-you-can-use) listed some figures about meetings and incentives that can help planners understand the waste that their events generate and how to reduce them. For instance, a three-day meeting of 1,000 people will generate about 530 metric tons of carbon emissions. But if a planner substitutes poultry and fish for any red meat or pork that would have been served at a meeting, the result will be a reduction of more than 10 tons of carbon emissions. And if the planner substitutes one fully vegetarian meal at the meeting, that will eliminate several more tons of carbon emissions. Each single action adds up in its impact to the overall carbon footprint of a meeting or incentive. Now imagine if every similar event did those things!

At AIC Hotel Group’s group-focused properties in Miami, on the eastern and western coasts of Mexico, and in the Dominican Republic, our staffs are ready to help you enact many of these environmentally friendly initiatives plus a few more, such as local sourcing of food and attendee gifts—both of which greatly reduce carbon emissions for an event. So as you come up with thoughts, plans, and perhaps some questions about creating more sustainable events, please know that we are ready, willing, and able to be active partners with you on this.


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