IMEX, a leader in business event sustainability and winner of Trade Show Executive’s Show with the Most Commendable Green Initiatives Grand Award, is an early signatory to the industry-wide net zero initiative. In fact, over the past decade IMEX worked with MeetGreen to measure and report on the sustainability achievements of its two shows, held annually in Frankfurt and Las Vegas. Its Sustainable Event Report for IMEX America 2022 details last year’s efforts.
Among the many steps IMEX aims at taking, its focus is to work with suppliers to gather data on its emissions footprint, creating a baseline to guide future reduction decisions. Data reporting will include numerous indirect greenhouse gas impacts, including emissions from food production, as well as attendee, exhibitor, and staff travel. IMEX will work with its exhibitors and stand builders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by gradually increasing the percentage of materials they use that are reusable and sustainable. It will measure and report on travel emissions for everyone attending IMEX; offer opportunities to offset unavoidable emissions, such as from air travel; and continue to encourage and promote sustainable travel options.
“Our journey to net zero is about incremental steps,” Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, said. “Initially we’re focusing on areas that we can fully control, such as the type of energy we use. Then we’ll expand to areas where we can have significant impact, such as waste management.”
For many organizations, undertaking sustainability initiatives at the level IMEX is introducing might appear daunting. MeetGreen’s Eric Wallinger, Director of Sustainability, urges show organizers who are in the early stages of their sustainability journey to follow this same incremental approach, focusing on early wins. “Something as actionable as a plant-based meal can save a surprising amount of event emissions. Our food systems require quite a bit of ‘upstream’ emissions to grow, produce, manufacture and transport. Animal proteins, and in particular beef, can often generate the most of all, given grazing and land use.
“Looking back at IMEX America 2022,” he said, “if every attendee selected just one plant-based low-carbon main course menu item during the event, that could save the emissions equivalent to driving a standard fossil fuel automobile the distance from the IMEX office in Brighton, UK to Las Vegas 18 times.”
Other achievable steps, he said, include reducing and reusing standard event materials, everything from service ware to signage to swag, and even “swag” gifting. Finally, partner with venues that are generating or sourcing renewable energy.