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INDUSTRY 35Keeping green: uniting to achieve sustainabilityEmma Wellman, ec&o's sustainability guru and chair of the aev's new dedicated working group discusses the inaugural cross-association group meeting and her hopes for the industry's futureack in 2005, the AEV created its own sustainability working group to discuss issues relating to use of renewable, ethical and sustainable resources for venues. Though the group has been very successful on its own, as the AEV we decided to open up the debate to other related organisations for the first time, and invited members of the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA). This created a cross-association sustainability working group that met for the first time in February at Excel London. We felt this would give us a better and wider perspective.The new expanded working group is looking at ways that all the different parts of the industry can work together to improve the sustainability and lower the environmental impact of exhibitions and events. Our initial focus is on cutting landfill waste and energy use. These are the industry's most costly sustainability issues, in terms of financial and environmental impact. This could range from simple practical changes by individuals through to major company-wide changes in processes and procedures.This first working group meeting discussed a number of different approaches to sustainability such as waste reduction as well as energy conservation through transport changes. The waste reduction initiative WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) has said that it would like to collaborate with the working group and presented us with its latest initiative, which is to develop a roadmap for zero waste to landfill for the events industry. This is expected to launch in December. Along with the technical adviser for the AEV and ESSA, Lee Holloway, I have been attending the WRAP stakeholder workshops, and we will feed the working group's industry perspective into WRAP, as well as bring innovations and suggestions back from WRAP to the group.printed copies of all your brochures? Could you email press releases rather than handing them out? This latter approach is being tried by the organisers of the Olympics this year, and it will be interesting to see how well it works.The sustainability working group meeting was the first time venues, organisers and contractors have sat together to discuss sustainability, and I believe that this is a really positive move. The most exciting events are those where people are being inventive, and the sustainability working group will be a great forum for coming up with new ideas for members from all industry sectors. For example, where to source seasonal foods for events.The first cross-sector working group went really well, with people from all sectors opening up and working together. By sharing knowledge, experience and inspiration, we could begin a groundswell of real change in the industry. I look forward to seeing the group work together and grow over the next few years, and really making a difference to sustainability. - Emma Wellman is venue services manager and Olympia sustainability advisor at Earls Court and Olympia, Venues and chair of the AEV sustainability working group. BImproving sustainability in events and exhibitions needs a change of mindset Improving sustainability in events and exhibitions needs a change of mindset across the industry, and event organisers have a big role to play here, as they are the people who make the key decisions about events. Many are concerned about making the changes needed to improve the sustainability of their events because they think it will be too difficult, too costly or too time consuming. By collaborating, the working group can save people time and effort. Rather than repeating someone else's research, members can ask and find out what has and hasn't worked in the past in an informal environment, and what hints and tips there are for tracking particular suppliers or resources.Sometimes something as simple as providing recycling points for visitors and exhibitors makes a big difference in cutting waste. The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) reported to the group that it has collaborated with a global corporation to install bins throughout the venue's main concourse. SECC is also looking at compostable cups, plates and cutlery for its catering outlets, something that will significantly cut waste currently just clogging up landfill.As part of our sustainability efforts, we at EC&O Venues have launched a collaboration with Carbon Voyage, a website that helps people visiting or working at events to organise lift shares, and facilitate freight share for exhibitors and their contractors. For example, we're looking at filling part-empty or empty vehicles on journeys to and from venues. This will improve efficiency and cut costs, as well as slash the carbon footprint of our events.It's important to remember that sustainability is really about efficiency - it can be about making more efficient use of the resources you already have in-house, or cutting waste, reducing the costs of disposal. For example, could you use a modular and reusable stand rather than having something bespoke built every time? Do you need that many