Ultimate Green: How One Team Achieved a 90 Percent Recycling Rate
It’s not an easy task to carry off an event for 10,000 people, much less make almost every aspect of the meeting eco-friendly. But IBM and Meeting Consultants, an Atlanta-based corporate event planning company, pulled it off last year when they agreed early on to recycle, minimize waste and reuse as much of the meeting materials as they could.
The result? They achieved a 90 percent recycling rate, saw increased attendee participation and developed additional standards and planning tools that can help make other corporate events more sustainable.
They implemented some standard practices such as eliminating plastic water bottles, but they also got creative and came up with some new sustainability ideas for the event, which was held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. For example, energy efficient lighting was required in exhibit booths and a lighting and HVAC plan reduced the amount of energy used in conference meeting rooms. Carpet used in the exhibit hall was recycled through a re-use program, and attendees were reminded at check-in to opt out of daily linen changes in hotel rooms.
To reduce paper and plastic consumption, they used SmartSite kiosks which allowed attendees to email themselves informational materials and session presentations. Paper handouts were not used at educational sessions, and all surveys were conducted electronically. All planning and conference organizing was managed through electronic records and all banners were produced from 100 percent recycled materials and printed with biodegradable inks.
In terms of food and beverage, all condiments were distributed through bulk dispensers to reduce waste. Leftover food was recycled through composting and donation to local farms as animal feed, and all coffee served at the event was organic and sustainably produced (certified by the Rainforest Alliance).