26 Feb 2024

Delivering a Sustainable Event in Sydney


Business Events Sydney (BESydney) is focused on supporting sustainable events in order to protect the environment for future generations. We work with local and international Associations, Corporate and Incentive event planners from bidding through to delivery by providing local connections to ensure that hosting an event in Sydney meets sustainability goals. Here are some tips to create a sustainable, diverse and inclusive business meeting, conference or incentive.

Know your event footprint

Manage your carbon footprint as a first step in your event planning. This is about assessing every element of your event, from travel and transport, suppliers and gifts, banners to waste management. Choose a Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) or Association Management Company (AMC) that will be able to guide you in this process. Australia’s first carbon neutral PCO, Arinex, and our other PCO partners can help you to assess your emissions footprint. To make it easy for you, BESydney has added a green leaf symbol to our supplier list to highlight operators that have committed to sustainability policies.

Switch on your offset

While carbon offsetting is not the whole solution, ask your PCO/AMC to connect with programs to offset the carbon footprint for your event. From airline choices to tree planting opportunities, there are many creative ways to engage in carbon offset programs in your event planning and also bring your delegates on board to support.

Invest in a sustainable event certification

EventCheck from Earth Check is a toolkit that provides event planners and PCO/AMCs with a practical framework to measure and minimise environmental, social and economic impact, and to deliver responsible events. The toolkit is aligned to the international standards and ensures that event managers implement a sustainable event at every stage from planning, pre-event, during and post event. Certification from EarthCheck provides a globally recognised credential to your event.

Understand your venue’s sustainability offering

Your venue is key to setting the scene for a sustainable event. Check your venue’s sustainability policy, Green-star rating, its sustainability partnerships and practices such as water conservation and water efficiency, LED lighting and waste management. International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) is an example of a venue committed to delivering sustainable events. ICC Sydney’s Sustainability Policy outlines the venue’s goals to limit environmental impact through the sustainable use of resources to manage the building and its operational event management.

Onboard stakeholders and supply chains

It takes a community of people to run an event, so keep it local. Event planning and management includes several key stakeholders and a diverse array of suppliers. Ensure the management team collaborates with you and your partners to deliver a fully sustainable event and your sustainable requirements are included in all documents and contracts within your supply chain.

Go paperless

All your event information can be managed and distributed online. Your event website can generate digital invitations, accept registrations and deliver paperless ticketing. Create an event app that can be downloaded onto smartphones. Use the app for key messaging, including about sustainability, in the lead up and during the event, supported by email and social media. Plastic or paper name tags can be replaced by sustainable options, digital business cards are available, alternatively use QR codes for information in place of brochures.

No single use plastics

Lightweight single use plastics are banned in Sydney and New South Wales. That creates a platform for event planners to ensure local suppliers and venues leave single-use plastics, including bottled water, plastic straws, plastic serveware, plastic utensils or single use cups off the table.

Let your delegates help

Delegates come to conferences to learn, network and contribute. Let them contribute to your event’s sustainability - it will make them feel good to do good. Guide delegates to manage their own event experience in a sustainable way. Help them to find sustainable accommodation options. If you offset your event’s emissions by partnering with community initiatives such as tree planting, let your delegates know about this and provide the avenues through which they too can support, such as joining an offsite experience or making a personal donation.

Keep banners and signage sustainable

If banners and signs are needed at the venue, ensure they can be recycled for future use. Hire equipment and furnishings to decorate the event from designers who support your sustainable goals. Ensure your exhibitors also follow these guidelines.

Green your gifts

Do delegates really need a giftbag of branded merchandise that make their way into landfill? According to the 2019 Global Ad Impressions Study by the Advertising Specialty Institute 23% of branded gifts and merchandise are thrown away, going into landfill, and more than half are given away. If gifts are required, apply the no single use plastic rule. Choose suppliers who offer gifts that are sustainable, reusable, recyclable and compostable.

Sustainable food and drink service

Work with local suppliers that support the no single use rule. Request a sustainable menu, with sustainably sourced produce, purchased from local and fair trader suppliers. Serve meals on reusable crockery, with reusable cutlery and glassware throughout the event. Leftover food can be collected by social enterprises such as OzHarvest and SecondBite. For example, ICC Sydney donates its Edible Centerpieces to the Matthew Talbot Hostel, a service run by the St Vincent De Paul Society New South Wales, which helps support more than 20,000 homeless men per year.

Waste management

Ensure correct collection services for waste, to encourage recycling and green waste separation from other waste. Work with your venue or PCO/ AMC to make it a goal to send as little as possible to landfill.

Safe and accessible Sydney for walking and public transport

Sydney has an extensive public transport system starting with a train service from the airport to the city, where light rail, bus, ferries, taxis and water taxis are a part of the city’s fabric. Sydney is a pedestrian friendly city and with a year-round moderate climate, it’s perfect for your delegates to explore the city on foot and find everything they need within walking distance.

Offset your offsite

When you plan for your delegates to go offsite for social events, apply the same sustainability ethos. Choose venues and experiences with sustainable policies and practices in all aspects of their activities. Sydney has plenty of options within walking distance to event venues.

Cultural sustainability, learn from the world’s oldest culture

Include Australian indigenous cultural experiences for your event, either onsite or offsite. Australia’s First Nations peoples can share knowledge and experience that explains why their culture has been sustained for more than 65,000 years. See BESydney’s factsheet on how to incorporate First Nations Culture into Business Events in Sydney here.

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