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Greening Your Conference

Categories: HEADLINES, Environment & Bio-diversity
With a huge push for businesses to go green, it’s important to walk the talk and what better opportunity to do this than when planning a conference? “Companies need to demonstrate to their key stakeholders exactly how they are reducing their own carbon footprint. An ideal platform to showcase one’s commitment to going green is at a conference where delegates are able to have a first-hand experience of working and living the ‘green way’,” says Jan Palm, President of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA)

As the industry body aiming to share the latest, best practice principles with regards to waste management with its over 1050 members and countless non-members, the IWMSA will host the 24th biennial WasteCon 2018 conference and exhibition in Johannesburg in October this year. WasteCon is a not-to-be missed gathering of key players in the environmental and waste management industries and has for many years lead by example in hosting an environmentally friendly conference.

Palm shares IWMSA’s top tips on how to host a truly green conference:

1.      Reduce use of paper
“At WasteCon we will use 100% recycled paper for our conference programme,” says Palm. Avoid the use of binding glue and rather saddle stitch pages, to ensure that they may be recycled quite easily. As more and more people make notes electronically, using laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices, the provision of note paper and pens can be kept to a minimum; provided to those who wish to use the traditional method of note taking. “All printed material will be kept to an absolute minimum for WasteCon. Conference presentations will be loaded onto a complimentary memory stick for each delegate, and sponsors and exhibitors will be recognised in our conference’s unique mobile app instead of on printed paper,” Palm adds.

2.      Eliminate plastic bottles
“Instead of placing plastic water bottles on delegates’ tables, consider using glass water jugs and tumblers to keep conference participants hydrated. At WasteCon we will supply each delegate with their own glass water bottle that they can refill at designated water stations around the venue,” says Palm.

3.      Reduce your waste footprint

Very often conference delegates receive custom made conference bags that are discarded after the event. “In an attempt to reduce our delegates’ waste footprint, we will not be supplying conference bags but rather encouraging each person to bring their own bag,” says Palm.

4.      Reduce emissions

If all delegates commute alone to a designated venue, the conference carbon emissions will tally up. In planning your conference, why not consider offering a shuttle service from key public transport hubs? 

5.      Redistribute left-over food

Consider donating left-over food to a worthy charity once the conference is over, ensuring the all produce is eaten and not thrown away. “Ideally no consumable food should be thrown away, ending up in a landfill. We all have a responsibility to reduce the quantities of waste that we send to landfill and food is one of the most obvious items that need not be thrown out. Redistribution of left-over food is a value-added service offered by some conference venues, like Emperor’s Palace, who will host WasteCon 2018,” says Palm.

6.      Recycle

Think about the type of material that could be recycled at your conference and plan ahead to collect this before it is thrown away. “We encourage all delegates at WasteCon to recycle and will set up recycling stations in the conference and exhibition venues. To bring the recycling message closer to home we will measure the contents collected and, during our closing session, announce the exact amount that was recycled,” says Palm. “We will ask delegates to return their lanyards, name tags and any pens they do not wish to keep, so that they can be repurposed for future conferences that we host,” explains Palm.

“Green conferencing should not be viewed as a mountain too high to climb. You will find that implementing small adjustments in the planning stages will result in a far more environmentally friendly event that leaves a lasting positive impact,” advises Palm.

The theme for this year’s WasteCon is: “Implementing the Waste Hierarchy”. Reducing your Waste footprint. The IWMSA expects to welcome over 450 delegates from around the world who will gather at Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg from 16 to 18 October to share the most recent waste management innovations.

To find out more about WasteCon 2018 and to register, visit www.wastecon.co.za. Early bird registrations close on 31 May 2018. Exhibitors are encouraged to book their stand early as they are sold on a first come first served basis. Do not miss out on this fantastic opportunity to showcase your products or services at WasteCon 2018.

For more information on the IWMSA, visit www.iwmsa.co.za. The IWMSA is also on Twitter (https://twitter.com/IWMSA) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/iwmsa).

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