Messe Frankfurt's digital format specifically for event organizers takes place twice a year covering current topics relating to trade fairs, congresses and events. Alternating expert panels, moderated by host Michael Biwer, present operational tips, technical background information and news from the locations of Messe Frankfurt.
On February 1st, we streamed the new episode of our digital format for event organizers titled "Deep Dive: Sustainability at Events".
How can a sustainability strategy be structurally embedded in a company? What added value do sustainable events bring? What future objectives beyond climate neutrality can we expect?
Ben Wielgus, Head of Sustainability at Informa, and Vivien Altmann-Morelli, Sustainability Management at Messe Frankfurt, spoke openly and in detail about these topics with moderator and host Michael Biwer, Vice President Guest Events at Messe Frankfurt.
For those who couldn't join live, here is the recording, the key learnings from the 45-minute talk as well as some Q & A.
Recording, February 1, 2024: Deep Dive - Sustainability at Events
Key learnings from the talk:
- We got to know two highly advanced qualification processes: EMAS – environmental management and audit system to define environmental performance in the first year and continually improve it via a concrete target architecture. Better stands – as a new industry initiative not only offering better customer experience, commercial opportunities and environmental impact but also debunking common pushbacks.
- Sustainability at events does not necessarily cause more costs but definitely brings added value for the organizer, the location, host city and mainly for the participants.
- What organizers expect from venues/providers: There will be no way without the commitment to net zero carbon, a clear commitment to waste avoidance and the consistent collaboration of all partners.
- In the end sustainability has to be structurally anchored in a company, but it needs the contribution from everyone, it definitely starts with turning off the light and switching down the heating – it should become part of the DNA and the mindset.
- The world and our industry can’t wait. In the near future, sustainability will become a standard component of event planning. Important future topics will be: circular economy, locally sourcing, green venue policy, high impact event culture, avoiding green washing, educating people…. See our buzzword cloud in the video.
Questions & Answers
Question: Given that sustainability, and more specifically sustainability in events, is a relatively new topic, there is a great need to train people who can properly develop and apply the various sustainability resources in their events. In order for event organizers to manage their sustainability goals more effectively, what area or department of the company should the sustainability budget be allocated to?
Vivien Altmann-Morelli: The question greatly shows that sustainability is an overarching topic that touches all teams of an organization. Training of people would usually fall into HR, delivering sustainable events would fall with Ops, communicating sustainability falls with Communications / Marketing, while getting exhibitors to join the events and also use sustainability as part of their pull strategy lays with Sales.
Considering this, we would recommend to have the sustainability budget allocated individually to an overarching sustainability team or towards other cross-functional departments like corporate communications, strategy or transformation.
Question: (Colorful) carpets make an event in an exhibition hall more beautiful and give a better feeling when walking through. Unfortunately, these are laid and thrown away after the respective trade fair. What (affordable) alternative does Messe Frankfurt offer?
Vivien Altmann-Morelli: Together with a longstanding partner, we offer a choice of high-quality carpets as standard, all of which are Cradle-to-Cradle Certified® (Bronze). We also offer flat felt carpets that are Cradle-to-Cradle Certified® (Silver). These are available for aisle as well as for exhibition booth carpets. The main advantage of flat felt carpets is that manufacturing them takes less energy and generates less CO2. In all cases, the different types of carpeting are collected (separately wherever possible), cleaned and compressed by our waste disposal partner. The carpeting is then granulated by a recycling company after which it is used again, among other things, as material for foot mats or plastic containers or in 3D printing.
Question: Since we recently discussed issues regarding aisle carpet and exhibit booth design I won't ask a lengthy question about alternatives and best practices but suggest you speak to the issue of certain entities resisting sustainable initiatives based on financial interests and agendas and ways that the industry could address that.
Ben Wielgus: That's definitely an edgy question! For me, I think there are people who like the current status quo and it's important that we try to bring them with us on this programme of improvement by helping them see the business case for change. Let's just hope the tiger CAN change it's stripes!
Thank you so much to our experts Ben Wielgus and Vivien Altmann-Morelli!
Messe Frankfurt Locations on Social Media: