Expert Sustainability Tips from 'Round The Room'

8 May 2019

Expert Event Sustainability Tips from Round The Room

On Monday 8 April, The Roundhouse hosted over 80 event managers, suppliers and partners at our new flagship event series ‘Round The Room’, a learning experience for events professionals to share knowledge and advice on hot topics in the industry.

This instalment of ‘Round The Room’ focussed on ‘Sustaining The Events Industry’. We were joined by Mirerva Holmes, Head of Partnerships and Innovation at EarthCheck and Will Syddall, Head of Environmental Sustainability at UNSW for a panel discussion on the topic, moderated by Miles Portek, Sustainability Officer at The Roundhouse.

We wanted to ensure that we stayed true to the topic of the event by introducing as many sustainable initiatives as possible. Here are our tips from producing this event:


Produce marketing collateral on carbon-neutral, recycled paper or offer digital downloads.

Use locally and sustainably sourced produce.

Use reusable chalk boards at exhibitor tables instead of printing signage.

Engage Globelet to supply reusable, sustainable cups and glassware.

Ask invitees to bring something along to repurpose instead of buying gifts. Our guests transformed their old glassware into terrariums.

Encourage attendees to use public transport or cycle to your event.

Advice from the Experts 

Attendees submitted their burning sustainability questions to be answered by our panel. Here’s the advice from the experts:

What simple things can we do as individuals in the home or office environment to reduce waste.

  • Consider the life cycle of your lunch, your administration, your travel. At what steps could you make small differences
  • Do you need to wrap your lunch in glad wrap or could it go into a reusable container?
  • Keep your keep cup in your bag or take a mug to get your coffee each day.
  • Compost – even in apartments you can use small systems like the Bokashi Bin
  • Buy food from local farmer markets that have better produce at cheaper prices and in season. They also use less plastic and the food miles are shorter. Food also lasts longer.
  • Buy in bulk, buy dried goods at companies like The Source.
  • Instagram have some great accounts to follow and can be found using tags like #plasticfree #wastefree

What is your suggestion for sustainable food packaging and supplying water for mass events, particularly outdoor events which have no infrastructure.

  1. Partner with local councils and local utilities. The Choose Tap program often is linked to councils who can offer water stations, or, Hydration Stations. 
  2. Green Music Australia also have campaigns and provide assistance to address waste at events.

How do you ensure there is enough catering for all but also prevent waste?

  1. The Victorian Government has done a lot around food waste. This tool might assist.
  2. There are a lot of calculators online that can help tally the requirement for events especially.
  3. It does pay to be conservative on how much food is ordered. Plan for 75% of catering against the number registered, especially if under subscribed. If over subscribed it could indicate a popular event that may need to be a little higher than 75%. Also, the time of day an event is conducted can also help with food waste. Consider if the event can be run at alternate times, instead of times of day where larger meals are required, like lunch or dinner.

Where can an event professional further their knowledge without paying thousands of dollars for a group-only training session?

EarthCheck have a number of products for all levels of investment, that start with assessing the event and desire outcomes, through to measuring the footprint, carbon calculators, offsetting, templates for event plans and measurement tools. 

Engaging an operator like EarthCheck also means connecting with other professionals and peers, as well as accessing tips and tricks sent out weekly. Attached is more information but sometimes it just helps to talk to someone to point you in the right direction. Mirerva Holmes can help with this. 

What's the most creative and impactful way you have seen where event organisers have communicated to delegates the importance, as well as the actions taken, to reduce our carbon footprint at an event or conference?

The Pitch Festival in Victoria – have a look at the website.

Their communication to delegates before the event was concise, enforced the rules to participate and provided ways in which they could help the festival achieve a minimal footprint.

One of EarthCheck’s clients, Banyan Tree, are considered the ultimate in the tourism sector, starting from a basic intent to move towards sustainability to now having formed a Foundation.

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