In line with its principles of consistently reducing environmental impact, organizers of IMEX America, the IMEX Group, have announced key results from the inaugural Las Vegas show’s first sustainability program. The report was conducted by IMEX America’s sustainability consultants, MeetGreen®.
During the debut of IMEX America in October 2011 in Las Vegas, the IMEX Group set out to collect extensive baseline data against which it could set sustainable benchmarks and report environmental achievements and progress over future years. The measures included creating programs and partnerships with all major constituents of the trade show including sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, and vendors/service providers. They also incorporated a range of other business activities such as back-office functions.
Green Best Practices Are Where the Rubber Meets the Road
As promised, the IMEX America show featured a number of meetings sustainability best practices at the Sands Expo and in various partner hotels. They included the use of show badges and hosted buyer luggage tags made from recycled paper, badge lanyards made from plant silk, and sustainable badge holders. Show bags were reusable and made of recyclable polypropylene, exhibitor waste baskets were reused or recycled, signage was sourced within 100 miles of the event, and 99 percent of those signs are now being stored locally for re-use next year. Additionally, a three-minute, anti-idling policy was put in place for all hosted buyer transfer buses. The audio visual company also agreed to source the most efficient lighting and presentation projectors available, as well as participating in a lamp-recycling program.
Green and CSR Meetings Programs Extend Reach through Innovation
To expand the reach of IMEX America’s green and CSR efforts to the local community, and around the globe, IMEX partnered closely with the IMEX America headquarters hotel and convention center, The Venetian®|The Palazzo® and Sands Expo. The company also worked with local nonprofits, additional hotels, and global nonprofit organizations in Las Vegas.
For example, while IMEX America attendees were staying in town, they were also helping to provide 563 needy children with enough soap and 280 children with enough bottled amenities for a month’s worth of basic hygiene needs. This was made possible through IMEX’s partnership with Clean the World, a non-profit organization based in Florida that collects gently-used soap and used bottled toiletries from hotel rooms and then recycles, sanitizes and donates them to children in over 42 countries. Las Vegas hotels participating in the IMEX America Clean the World Program included headquarters hotel, The Venetian®|The Palazzo®, Wynn, Encore, Caesars Palace, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, Hard Rock, MGM Grand Las Vegas, the Mirage Resort and Casino, Mandalay Bay, Mandarin Oriental, ARIA Resort and Casino, and Vdara Hotel and Spa.
Working closely with the show’s exhibition venue, the Sands Expo, the IMEX America team also opted to use compostable rather than disposable service-ware wherever possible. After use it was taken – along with food waste – to a local compost facility to help reduce landfill. In an effort to repurpose any original disposable service-ware that couldn’t be used, IMEX and the Sands also donated items to the Teacher Exchange, a Las Vegas nonprofit that collects supplies for resource-deprived teachers.
Unique badge-back idea
IMEX America attendees were also encouraged to recycle their badges on their way out of the show by placing them in a box designated to one of two local nonprofit organizations: Opportunity Village, which employs people with intellectual disabilities in Las Vegas, and Shade Tree, which provides safe shelter to homeless, and abused women and children, in crisis. Each of them received a cash donation from IMEX America and the badge-back sponsors, Estoril (Portugal), based on how many badges were collected from their respective collection boxes placed at the show exits.
“Our mission going into the show was to reduce, reuse, recycle, and respect,” said Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, “We think we made some very positive strides towards doing these things right out of the gate and are looking forward to making our performance even stronger at the 2012 show through more innovation, more partnerships, and more knowledge about the best way to implement sustainable practices in Las Vegas. Being as green as possible is an important part of the IMEX culture, and we extend this commitment into our professional education programs, because we know that many others in the industry share the same desire to minimize environmental impact in systematic and measurable ways.”
The Bar is Set with Benchmarks
To establish green and CSR goals for the 2012 IMEX America show, IMEX and its Sustainability Partners, MeetGreen®, now have some important benchmark data on which to measure success. For example, recycled material from The Venetian®|The Palazzo® and Sands was clocked at 66.4 tons and food donated to a Las Vegas food emergency service amounted to 156.5 lbs. The carbon footprint avoided during the show amounted to 1.52 metric tons of Co2E. IMEX America’s decision to use 95 percent post-consumer recycled paper wherever possible also resulted in 39 trees, 15 million BTUs of energy, and 16K+ gallons of water being saved. Finally, by eliminating bottled water at show-sponsored events and in locations such as the hosted buyer lounge and press center, over 28,000 liters of water was saved, with a measurable saving also in the energy and oil that goes into plastic bottle manufacture.
Looking ahead, Bauer stated: “Given that the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standards have now been launched, we are benchmarking the IMEX America show practices against Level 1 of the standards. Fortunately, we have the enthusiastic support of our major suppliers to do what can be done to implement as much as possible for IMEX America 2012. Realistically, we expect that achieving Level 1 will require a multi-year commitment from both our internal team and our vendor partners. We will be documenting our experiences throughout this process and intend to share that as our story unfolds.”