Paul Weston, health and safety manager at drp, on the company’s sustainability initiatives.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in terms of sustainability?
There are many sustainability challenges facing the event industry. Some, however, are more important and relevant to certain events than others and each project should be assessed and objectives set during the planning stages of the project.
There is a common misconception/belief from organisers or clients that producing sustainable events costs more.
One of the main obstacles is that delegates and organisers prefer mainstream locations and traditional travel options which limit our sustainable options that we can implement and influence.
Sustainability is about keeping things pragmatic to drive benefits to all parties, so this is real for the people that are operating the event on the front line – it’s all about stakeholder engagement throughout the project or event at hand.
Can you highlight some ways in which drp tries to operate in a sustainable way when working on events?
Most event professionals these days have a personal interest in the way in which the environment may impact their events. As we may or may not know, events in general can take a heavy toll on our resources and society, however, with the correct resources put in place we can ensure that sustainability is being used correctly at all industry events.
We are always looking for new environmental and sustainable opportunities, by using our International Standards Organisations (ISO 20121:2012) accreditations as well as and Environmental Management (ISO 14001:2015) to our advantage. drp were the first in the industry to gain the joint standards, and we are continuing to enhance its standards after nine years.
Sustainability at exhibitions/events is all about working in partnership with our clients, third parties and all involved, and where needed it’s about guiding and supporting to reduce our impact. For drp achieving certification helped to bring sustainability and environmental practices to life and helped to develop and strengthen our management systems. drp were one of the first companies to gain joint standards, and we will continue to work hard to ensure year after year we continue to achieve this.
With the events industry and businesses often having a significant impact on resources, society, and the environment, it is essential to have systems in place to reduce this impact. Exhibitions can often cause considerable waste and significant consumption on resources like energy, water, and raw materials, alongside a strain on local facilities or communities, if not managed properly. It is always advisable to ensure that you have pragmatic, and pro-active management systems, that help in creating a positive and empathetic culture. These will ensure user education and improve sustainability awareness, which are the key tools to reducing your impact.
Sustainability is all about efficiency and effectiveness, it’s about working smarter not harder, and as a business it’s about using the right people with the right skills, with the right equipment to do the right jobs, giving consideration to environmental, economic and social impact of the project and finding a balance. We do this by looking at the ways we can protect the environment by setting objectives during the planning stages of our project to re-think what we are doing to reduce waste and purchasing and ensure that what we create can be re-used and if not that it can be recycled where possible.
These are very important factors to consider when planning an event as they ensure that as an industry we aren’t just focusing on creating economic and social development, for us it’s important to use local people and produce events so we can support the local communities.
An example of sustainability and environmental practices within the events industry, is to influence our clients to consider using recyclable materials, using branded materials that are not event specific, so these can be re-used on multiple events rather than just for one event. Having collection points for event badges and lanyards is also a bonus as these can be re-used for clients next events. Using tap water rather than purchasing water, is a great way to be sustainable – if there are re-usable materials that are left from the event that are going to waste, we liaise with local charities before the end of the event and organise for them to be collected. A good example of this is food banks.