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Net Zero Carbon Events: Trade Show Industry Update

wooden blocks stacked with symbold about sustainability printed on them, with net zero carbon on the top

CHICAGO — Net Zero Carbon Events is making headway on the development of guidance within the framework of the roadmap that was launched last November. The initiative is in its third phase of operations, and in a webinar on Feb. 15, 2023, the different initiative workstream teams gave presentations on what they’re doing in this phase to achieve the goal of launching the roadmap and methodology in November 2023 at COP 28, the UN Climate Change Conference. 

The Measurement, Carbon Offsetting and Reporting workstreams deal with the more technical side of the initiative, while the Venue Energy, Smart Production & Waste Management, Food & Food Waste, Logistics and Travel & Accommodation workstreams focus on the priority action areas.  

Action steps from the Food & Food Waste workstream included easy-to-implement ideas including reducing the number of meat dishes offered at an event, source food locally and creating partnerships to reduce waste, such as with a food bank or compost machines. The Logistics workstream zeroed in on reducing the traffic demand at events by consolidation through warehouses, which helps by reducing emissions from the transportation of materials. 

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During the Offsetting workstream overview, Alex Alles, Executive Director of JMIC, said, “We understand that the topic of offsetting is quite controversial, and the roadmap clearly states that carbon offsetting in itself is definitely not the answer to net zero. It can be seen as an intermittent measure to mitigate the impact of carbon emissions, but the focus of each company should rely on avoiding emissions rather than offsetting.” 

The common challenge the workstreams identified was that the events industry lacks a global standardized reporting system, and a standard metrics system by which to measure carbon footprints. The next step for the initiative is to develop standard metrics, reporting systems and methodologies that can be used by the entire industry to get a more accurate picture of what events are doing now and can do in the future to help reach net zero, while being able to view all the reported information in a comparable way. 

“We found out that collaboration with other workstreams is key. In order to make progress we need to collaborate and finalize the measuring and reporting,” Edwin Van der Vennet, Owner and Chief !nnovation and Sustainability Officer at beMatrix and Chair of the Smart Production & Waste Management workstream, said. “We collected the best practices, and the idea is to come up with a comprehensive document. It’s very important to define the key challenges, and once we’ve defined those key challenges, we now need to see if these can be turned into opportunities.” 

Find the latest information about Net Zero Carbon Events here. 

Reach Alex Alles at; Edwin Van der Vennet at +32 51 20 07 50 or 

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