How to make your events sustainable: a guide

July 2023

What do the experts think...

Events come in all shapes and sizes, and they can each become more sustainable with a conscious effort and innovative approach. From large-scale corporate conferences, to an intimate wedding, or three-day music festival - events generate significant waste, carbon emissions and consume substantial resources. 

Here is our 5 step guide to becoming an event provider, with a green difference.‍

Step 1: Participate in the circular economy by recycling, reusing and refurbishing your physical assets - or partnering with a provider who already does!

Many events, or commercial styling projects, require furniture for a short period of time. Disrupting the linear economy of buy-use-landfill, our customer Valiant has designed a sustainable, circular supplier model for their clients: furniture-as-a-service. Valiant protects their furniture during delivery, pickup and storage with reuse in mind, ensuring all their furniture does not end up in landfill. This includes restoring and donating furniture to those in need. 

“We are passionate about sustainability and do what we can to minimise harm to our planet through a continuous effort to recycle waste by being energy efficient, going paperless, and contributing to the circular economy through our furniture-as-a-service business model, which reduces the dependency on extraction, production, distribution, and disposal.” - Brian Lindeman, Managing Director, Valiant

Step 2: Create an internal KPI specific to sustainability data collection such as waste generated, electricity consumed and travel. This could be in your Finance or Client Services resourcing - someone who can account for the expenses and activities of each event, and report back to your carbon accounting partner.  

This is something that our clients Radish Events have implemented with great success. They have a role specific to data collection so that their carbon footprint assessment, and carbon neutral status, is accurate and credible. This helps them to bring transparent and compelling data to their client pitches and retention strategy, making them a supplier of choice. 

Step 3: Measure and manage your carbon footprint with an annual emissions assessment. 

This year, Coldplay released the first-known sustainability report for a music tour. Measuring their carbon footprint, Coldplay announced that compared to their 2016-2017 tour, they achieved a 47% reduction in carbon emissions. The report is an awesome example of environmentally aware business, who cares about the environmental impact of their events. 

Event service providers can support their clients by reporting operational and event-specific emissions on an annual basis, creating a credible carbon baseline. With the shifting appetite of consumers, and event-goers, for a climate-aware event - this could be the competitive advantage that sees your event shine. 

Step 4: Contribute to credible carbon reduction projects through offsets to mitigate the emissions that you cannot reduce. 

Measuring and managing emissions are the top two priorities for a sustainable event services provider, but there are some emissions that we are not able to mitigate. This is where offsetting plays a really important role in the short term. One of our clients, Popology, has been working with us for over three years now to mitigate the emissions of their events. Part of their strategic reduction is to procure credible offsets through Trace’ carbon project partners. These offsets become part of the story of their carbon footprint, and customer relationships. 

Step 5: Educate and enable your attendees to be proactive about their individual contribution

Each year, music fans leave behind huge amounts of waste at festivals. To tackle this, Australian-based festival Lost Paradise ran a recycling and education campaign at their 2022/23 festival to encourage attendees to leave no trace. Partnering with Green Music Australia and B-Alternative, the festival implemented a range of initiatives:

👉 Signage encouraging recycling

👉 A repair cafe to fix damaged camping gear

👉 Incentives to return drink cups for recycling

👉 Communication about sustainability ahead of the festival

The festival also trialed Green Music Australia's new campsite planner tool Camping Buddy which encourages attendees to adopt sustainable habits by better planning their festival campsite experience and encouraging borrowing before buying.

Start your net zero journey today

trace can help your business take the first step on the sustainability journey. We make measuring, managing & reducing your emissions straightforward & engaging

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