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Environmental Meeting & Event Nuts & Bolts

Step 1: Gain Management or Sponsor Support

Sell your approach to management by emphasizing the range of environmental benefits, enhanced public image, and potential cost savings that result from incorporating environmental considerations into the planning process. In addition, your environmental leadership may help you obtain new or additional sponsorship and funding.

Step 2: Set Your Environmental Priorities

First, identify environmental issues that are especially significant to your organization, community, or region. Next, select environmental priorities reflecting those particular issues. Finally, determine the amount of effort your management will dedicate to meeting the priorities.

Clearly defined environmental priorities will help you identify the specific actions you can take to meet these objectives. The planning checklist at the end of this guide can help you set and meet these priorities.

Preventing or Reducing Waste

The best way to deal with waste is not to create it in the first place. Determine what materials are needed at your event and consider ways to reduce the amount used. For example, conference planners may reduce the amount of paper they distribute by purging duplicate addresses from mailing lists and requiring that all printed materials be double-sided.

Work With Your Recycling Vendor to Consider:

Contracting for Services:

If your event does not take place in a facility with recycling and food service contracts already in place, remember to share yourenvironmental priorities with the potential contractors:

Recycling and Managing Waste

Arrange for collection of as many recyclables as possible. Work with event site managers and recycling vendors when planning your meeting or event. Waste prevention measures and recycling collection will significantly reduce the amount of trash generated during your meeting or event.

Other Environmental Issues

Other environmental issues important to your community might include water conservation, air quality, or specific natural resource issues. For instance, meeting planners in California might place a high priority on water conservation during water shortages.

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Step 3: Translate Your Priorities Into Actions

Selecting a Site

Look for a site that best addresses your environmental priorities. To meet waste reduction and energy conservation priorities, for example, look for a naturally lit site offering comprehensive recycling collection and mass transit services.

Arranging for Food Service

Select food service providers that use reusable serviceware, or sell products that come in recyclable, little, or no packaging. A careful head count of attendees will reduce preparation of unnecessary meals.

Buying Products

Encourage your planning team and contractors to look for products that:

Collecting Recyclables

Encourage attendees to recycle with visible signs, written announcements, and opening remarks. Also, inform event contractors, exhibitors, and vendors about recycling procedures prior to the event. Arrange with your recycling contractor for an appropriate number of containers to be strategically placed throughout the site.

Promoting Your Event's Environmental Features

Make sure that event attendees are aware of its environmental features. Take the opportunity to exhibit your leadership and share your environmental commitment with others.

Monitoring and Evaluating Results Enable You To:

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Step 4: Evaluate the Event and Celebrate Its Success

Measuring Recycling Collection and Waste Generation

As collected recyclables are removed, look for food waste mistakenly discarded in recycling bins or recyclables placed in the wrong bins. Try to determine the cause of any contamination such as inadequate signage or poorly placed containers. Request that the recycling vendor and trash hauler report on exact quantities of materials and trash removed from the meeting site.

Surveying the Participants

Some meeting planners have done exit polls asking respondents to comment on the environmental aspects of the event. Also, seek suggestions to improve the environmental quality of your next event.

Promoting Environmental Achievements

Inform management, shareholders, sponsors, contractors, and the public about your success using your internal newsletter, bulletin board system, or annual report. Prepare press releases highlighting the environmental results of your event.

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