How Reed Exhibitions is committing to sustainability
Published: March 2021
How Reed Exhibitions is committing to sustainability
Whilst Covid-19 is a huge distraction to global progress on sustainability, it also offers us an opportunity to reset and reshape our events, offices and local environments in a more sustainable way.
At Reed Exhibitions, our UK and Australian businesses are leading the charge, sharing successes across the business, establishing minimum standards, and setting the future direction for others to follow. Both set up Sustainability Working Groups in 2019, and both have been using the past year to put new sustainability plans into action, focused on three areas of improvement – their events (including venues, suppliers and customers); their buildings (including energy, waste, water, carbon footprint and material usage); and their own personal impact (behaviour, travel, food waste etc.).
“The UK’s Sustainability Working Group was set up by 26 employees who are all passionate about driving change, not only from a personal standpoint, but in response to growing customer demand.” said Lee Allen, Marketing Manager and group lead. “One of our first actions in 2020 was to publish our Sustainability Charter which aligns to four of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (8, 12, 13 and 17). This is now visible to customers on all our UK show websites and is being adopted as a minimum standard by Reed Exhibitions worldwide.”
Lee is keen to point out that many UK events already go above and beyond the Sustainability Charter to reduce their own and their industry’s impact on the environment through initiatives such as World Travel Market’s Responsible Tourism Programme (the largest of its kind in the world) ILTM’s Carbon Free Programme and in-cosmetics Sustainability Corner.
Reed Exhibitions UK is also in the process of rolling out new operational guidelines for exhibitors at all its events, including environmental checklists covering sustainable stand design, waste management, energy consumption, carbon emissions, signage, catering and promotional materials. “Prior to the pandemic we had planned to introduce these new guidelines across all our events in 2020, but will now be doing so in 2021, as our events return” Lee explained. “This will establish a benchmark on which we can build and improve.”
Australia is taking a similar approach. “We have introduced new sustainability checklists in all our Exhibitor Manuals, and are in the process of developing comprehensive sustainability strategies for two major events – All Energy Australia 2021 and PAX Aus – in close partnership with the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)” said Stephen Steenson, Group Director, Operations and Event Production. “This will include a sustainability criteria for stand design approval at All Energy Australia 2021, and both events will be capturing organic waste which will be processed by the venue’s in-house food dehydrator and repurposed as green energy fuel.”
“Another of our objectives for 2021 is to have better reporting from our venues on waste and energy consumption. We have created a Waste Register so we can start tracking this on all our events and make improvements year on year,” he added.
Both the UK and Australia are also working on establishing a register of Sustainable Events Suppliers – which would enable them to check the credentials of suppliers as part of the tendering process. In the UK, this is being undertaken with fellow members of the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO) Sustainability Working Group to which Reed Exhibitions belongs.
Promoting personal responsibility
Changing employee behaviours is another goal shared by our UK and Australian businesses. “With the onset of Covid-19, lockdown, and the postponement of our events, we took the opportunity to raise awareness of our personal environmental impact, both at home and in the workplace, by organising RX Australia’s first Sustainability Week” said Millie Heslop, Senior Operations Manager.
“Over five days in April, we invited all employees to take part in a wide range of remote activities including a ‘Plastic Free Day’, a Facebook group ‘Swap Shop’ to promote recycling and a ‘Neighbourhood Clean-up’ encouraging all employees to take a walk to their local park, beach or nature reserve and see how much rubbish they could collect and dispose of responsibly” she explained.
Inspired by their Australian colleagues, the UK held its own virtual Sustainability Week in early March 2021, complete with meat free recipes and taste tests, recycling tips and guest speakers. Highlights of the week included a talk from Marcia Balisciano, Head of Corporate Responsibility at RELX, discussing the impact we have as a business on sustainability; guest speakers from OLIO, the food sharing app, and the World Wildlife Fund; and a fact-filled green quiz complete with plenty of recycled jokes and accompanied by cocktails made from kitchen waste!
Planning for the next Australian Sustainability Week 2021 is already underway, with the event scheduled to run from 31st May – 4th June, to align with World Environment Day.
To keep employees informed of the latest sustainability initiatives and resources, both businesses send out regular newsletters and Reed Exhibitions UK has a central Resource Hub for employees who want to develop a more sustainable approach to their work and home life, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The content is available for all employees worldwide to access and use.