Sustainable events don't cost the earth

Delegates worldwide want sustainable events.

Survey results from Nielsen show that a whopping 81 per cent of the world's consumers believe it's "extremely" or "very" important that companies implement programs to improve the environment. Recycling and reducing waste is no longer the remit of just passionate eco warriors - it falls on everyone, especially businesses, to do their bit to protect our environmental resources.

For this reason, the everyday consumer is looking for ways to reduce their personal impact, particularly in their buying decisions. So, organisations need to take a hard look at every area of their business - including corporate events - to assess how they can meet consumer demands and care for the environment, all while protecting their bottom line.

Saving the planet while saving money

Corporate events are responsible for a considerable amount of waste each year. Research by EventMB found that on average, a corporate event attendee produces 1.89 kg of waste and 176.67 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions for each day of the event. That's equivalent to 5,670 kg of waste and 530 tonnes of CO2e for a three-day, 1,000 person event.

In addition to this, over 60 per cent (1.16 kg) of the produced waste goes to landfill whether it belongs there or not. Meanwhile, attendee travel has been recognised as the largest form of carbon emissions associated with events - with 84 per cent generated by air, car and train travel to and from the event.

Sustainable event planning can help you meet your delegates' demands and inspire better care for our environment.


Sustainable event planning can help you meet your delegates' demands and inspire better care for our environment.

With the average Australian producing roughly 56.44 kg of CO2e each day (based on data published by the Guardian) and 1.54 kg of household waste daily (based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data), it's clear corporate events have a hand in significantly increasing the average attendee's personal output over the course of the event. So, responsible corporate event organisers must do their part to mitigate this impact through green event strategies.

However, sustainable event management requires labour, resources and investment companies may feel they cannot afford. But how would that perspective change when told Intel saved $200,000 in 2010 by measuring the impact of a small number of events? Or that Shambala Festival in the UK was able to cut its energy spending by a considerable 20 per cent through sustainability measures?

How to run sustainable corporate events at no greater cost

Focusing on sustainable event management in your next corporate event not only helps you improve your corporate social responsibility (CSR), but saves you money in the form of resources, consumption and new opportunities for revenue. Let's take a look at just some of the ways your organisation can save by making your events more environmentally sustainable.

Premium sustainability

Research from Nielsen found that over the year ending March 24, 2018, products with sustainability claims outperformed the growth rates of total products in their respective categories.

This suggests that when consumers see products that are aligned with their environmentally conscious values, they will agree to pay a higher price. Following this, it's reasonable to expect you can pass some costs of sustainability on to delegates upon registration. This may also allow you to increase margins, provided you can prove the value and impact of your sustainable event management to delegates.

Reduce your waste

Simply measuring and adjusting your corporate event waste can help you save money. EventMB estimates food can make up between 20 and 60 per cent of your corporate event's total waste stream.

Catering costs can quickly add up. Consider how much of that goes to waste. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates 31 per cent of the nation's food supply goes to waste each year. By removing the risk of food waste, you could potentially then save up to a third of your catering costs.

This applies to other areas of waste as well - opting for reusable cups and cutlery rather than disposable, using digital or generic reusable signage, and minimising printed collateral. By finding ways to reduce your landfill, you simultaneously minimise the money you waste.

Reducing, reusing and recycling can help you minimise the impact your event has on our planet.


Reducing, reusing and recycling can help you minimise the impact your event has on our planet.

Sponsorship & funding

Sponsorship and funding opportunities may be opened by adopting sustainable event management practices. For example, the City of Adelaide's Sustainable Incentives Scheme provides a range of rebates that support community investments in sustainability. For example, event organisers may be eligible for funding up to certain values for activities such as preparing a greenhouse gas inventory, preparing an emissions reduction strategy, or acquiring a carbon neutral certification. 

Meanwhile, other organisations may be interested in providing sponsorship for your event if you've proven your values to be aligned. Organisations may be interested in directly sponsoring sustainable aspects of your event, as it allows them to put their brand before a captive audience in a way that demonstrates your shared values.

Sustainable event management mistakes to avoid

While planning sustainable events can help you save money, it's not hard to get things wrong in the process. Without a strategic approach, it's possible that greening your next corporate event will feel like more work, and won't have quite the benefits you expected.

Here are a few sustainable event management mistakes to remain mindful of.

1. Not taking a holistic approach.

Sustainability is not an afterthought. It shouldn't be a box to be ticked, but rather an underlying ethos that drives key strategic decisions throughout the event planning process. If you've already booked your venue and engaged suppliers, it's probably too late to start thinking about sustainability measures and expect them to have their full effect.

Instead, adopt sustainable event management values at the front end of your process and consider it in relation to every aspect of the event.

To be truly effective, your sustainable event management practices must be part of a holistic strategy.


To be truly effective, your sustainable event management practices must be part of a holistic strategy.

2. Using sustainability as a gimmick.

Today's delegates are smart. They recognise when organisations are genuine about their values. To truly appeal to sustainably minded delegates, consider a holistic green events strategy for your entire business. This incorporates all meetings and events, and helps you to establish ongoing relationships with sustainable vendors. Not only does this demonstrate genuine commitment to sustainability, it sets you up with trusted relationships for streamlined event planning.

3. Relying on your own knowledge.

There's a lot of buzzwords and fluff around sustainability - so much it can be difficult to know what's really worth your time. Relying on your own knowledge may not always be sufficient - tap into the wisdom of suppliers and seek expertise from experienced sustainable event planners when needed.

5 sustainable event management practices to start with

If you're looking to adopt sustainability measure for your next corporate event, consider the following aspects of event management to get started:

  • Waste Management: Audit and monitor the waste your event generates, from marketing collateral to delegate-produced litter.
  • Water Management: Educate delegates about water usage and engage venues to measure and minimise excessive use.
  • Food and Beverage Management: Choose low-impact menus, encourage pre-orders and arrange to donate leftover food where possible.
  • Energy Management: Seek energy-efficient tech from suppliers and consider offsetting emissions through donation programs.
  • Travel Management: Choose destinations nearer to delegates to reduce air travel and organise foot-friendly events.

For more information about these areas and gain more insight into the business benefits of sustainable event management, read our whitepaper "How to create environmentally sustainable events".

Sustainable event management with cievents

cievents is a full-service event management agency, delivering strategic solutions to help you align your corporate events with your CSR goals. To learn more about our holistic, sustainable event management services, reach out to the team today.

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