Written by Gemma Downing – Account Director and Paul Weston – Health and Safety Manager at drp
Most event professionals have a personal interest in the ways in which the environment may impact their events. As we may or may not know, events can take a heavy toll on our resources and environment, 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 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 our standards even after 9 years.
Sustainability within the events industry is best described as; how natural systems functions are put in place to ensure that we are working ‘smarter not harder’; as sustainability is all about efficiency and effectiveness. When using the right people, with the right skills to do the right jobs, it’s all about considering the environmental, economic and social impact of the project and finding a balance. For us, it’s important to use local people and produce on our project so we support the local communities.
An example of sustainability could be to help influence clients to consider using recyclable materials and using branded materials that are not event specific. This would mean that these can be re-used on multiple events rather than just for one event. Another example could be to create collection points after the event for event badges and lanyards, so these can be re-used for clients next events. Even using tap water rather than purchasing water is saving the planet too.
If there are re-usable materials left over from a project that are going to go to waste, we need to ensure that we liaise with local charities before the end of the event, and organise for them to be collected – a good example of this would be somewhere like a local food bank. 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. Events can often cause considerable waste and significant consumption of resources like energy, water, or 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.
These factors are important when planning an event as they ensure that as an industry we aren’t just focusing on creating economic and social development, but we are looking to ensure that we protect the environment. By setting objectives during the planning stages of our project to re-think what we are doing, reduce waste and purchasing, ensuring that what we create can be re-used (and if not that it can be recycled where possible), we are creating sustainability.
Accreditations are a good way of ensuring that companies develop sustainable processes and procedures, no matter their type or size. drp has International Standards Organisations (ISO) accreditations for Event Sustainability Management (ISO 20121:2012) and Environmental Management (ISO 14001:2015). As a responsible company, we have a duty to influence and highlight change where possible, if or when there are sustainable or environmental opportunities, and ensure these are done correctly.
When it comes to sustainability and the environment drp is proud to work with local and national charities, schools and organisations, last year supporting 25 different projects. drp is very proud to have successfully transitioned through the upgrade to ISO 14001 earlier this year, and we have maintained our ISO 20121 accreditation. The ISO standards audits don’t just assess our processes and procedures; they look at the drp ethos and culture, as well as our commitment to influence our client projects and experiences, to ensure these are as sustainable as possible. They have been over the past 9 years, while we have maintained our ISO accreditations. This is a fantastic result for us and exemplifies our team’s dedication to sustainability as a business.
Sustainability at events is about working in partnership with our clients, third parties, and all involved working in partnership to know what is needed to protect our environment. It’s all about guiding and supporting each other and everybody we work with to reduce our impact. drp achieving its certification helped to bring sustainability and environmental practices to life and assisted with developing and strengthening 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.