In planning and hosting IMEX America 2012, a major goal for show organizers, Regent Exhibitions, was to strike a healthy balance between trade show growth, event quality, and a responsibility to the environment and the local Las Vegas community. With this in mind, the IMEX Group has today announced its audited sustainability results from IMEX America 2012, which have been compiled by its sustainability partner, MeetGreen®. They show that IMEX America 2012 achieved 63% compliance with the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standards, Level 1*.
Meant to serve as a benchmark for future IMEX America shows and provide a highly transparent, leading example of what the exhibition and events industry can do to positively change sustainability and CSR practices, the report shows strong performance in several key areas including:
• 87.5% of exhibit waste from the Sands Expo and Convention Center diverted from landfills. 72% in total diverted when combined with show-related events and meetings held at The Venetian® l The Palazzo®.
• 40% of food served at The Venetian®|The Palazzo® and the Sands Expo and Convention Center met sustainability criteria.
• 12 metric tons of organics and service waste was composted by The Venetian® l The Palazzo® and the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
• 94 % of the total carpet on show floor was reused from previous events.
• 63 staff and attendee volunteer hours donated to serve Las Vegas non-profits – Clean the World, Opportunity Village and Shade Tree. US$5,000 also raised for Opportunity Village and Shade Tree through the IMEX Badge Back Program.
• 1,861 kilograms of show food and exposition materials donated to local charities.
• Working with Clean the World, attendees sorted used hotel soaps & bottled amenities for recycling and donation – 300 hygiene kits donated to The Shade Tree.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS – STRATEGY + SUPPLIER TEAMWORK
Working closely with partners MeetGreen®, IMEX America’s sustainability efforts were the result of a solid strategy brought to life by close teamwork and a shared commitment between IMEX and its suppliers, especially the teams at the trade show’s venue, the Sands Expo and Convention Center and its host hotels, The Venetian® l The Palazzo®.
The strategic approach was based on 6 key areas guided by ISO 20121 and the APEX/ASTM standards. These included a clearly-defined vision & mobilized team; specific, measurable and time-bound goals to define success; clear targets to enable continuous improvement; engagement of key stakeholders; understanding of issues and risks; controls to communicate expectations and facilitate feedback.
“Creating a more sustainable show is a long road but a worthwhile one,” said Carina Bauer CEO of the IMEX Group. “It takes plans and processes but most importantly people across every role, job and vested organization to make change happen. Learning and bumps are all part of the experience, as sustainability is never truly “finished.” It’s exciting to see our industry working towards stronger stewardship and to be a part of such progressive action. We’re keen to share our experiences in an open and transparent way so that others can learn from them.”
Jenny Yu, Director of Global Sustainability for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, further commented on the IMEX America 2012 sustainability effort by saying: “Partnership between suppliers and planners is essential. Working with IMEX America is a rewarding experience for us because it helps us expand our Sands ECO 360o Meetings Program. Together, we have achieved extraordinary milestones in areas such as recycling, sustainable food purchase, attendee education, and CSR activities. And, we’re looking forward to going even further for IMEX America 2013.”
EXAMPLES OF SUCCESS
The unique desert landscape of Las Vegas presented a challenge to the organizers’ intent to serve locally-sourced food. However, a collaboration with the caterer expanded the definition of “local” to products grown within 400 miles of Las Vegas, instead of the 100 miles suggested in the standard.
Where necessary The Sands Expo and Convention Center and The Venetian® l The Palazzo® & Lunas Recycling brought in extra staff for the recycling and composting parts of the show’s waste management plan in order to reach the landfill diversion targets sought by IMEX. The Sands Expo and the team from Lunas were in constant communication during the show to discuss how the waste stream was running successfully and to highlight what needed to be adjusted each day for added efficiency and effectiveness. Internal communication within the Sands team was also enhanced to ensure that everyone working towards the new sustainability goals understood the importance of their individual role in achieving success; this included staff at all levels, from the hands-on cleaning staff to managers and directors.
MEASURING AGAINST THE APEX STANDARDS
All of the moving parts and data points of the show – over 300 – were factored into the APEX/ASTM standards through an in-depth review of criteria categories. These criteria categories or sectors included System and Policy, Destination, Venue, Food and Beverage, Exhibits, Transportation, Onsite, Communication, and Audio Visual.
“This was an interesting process as APEX is obviously a new standard and IMEX selected the event destination and list of suppliers long before the standards were available. That meant that IMEX’s ability to meet some criteria for year one was limited,” said Michael Luehrs, Sustainable Business Advisor, MeetGreen®. “That being said, we really saw a highly motivated team evolve and work together, bringing the plans, talent, and leadership needed to create some very exciting results. At future IMEX America shows we’ll be working even harder to improve performance against the APEX standards.”
In consultation with MeetGreen®, new benchmarks and targets have now been agreed to for the next edition of IMEX America, which starts on Smart Monday, October 14, 2013 at the Sands Expo.
These include: increasing communication with delegates prior to the show to ensure they are aware of what they can do to help reach the show’s sustainability goals, reviewing all supplier contracts and adding any new sustainable measures, and continuing to work closely with The Venetian® l The Palazzo® and the Sands Expo to increase the amount of sustainable food options available at the show.
IMEX is already working with The Venetian® l The Palazzo® to align sustainability measures with the APEX/ASTM Level 1 for accommodations and hopes to bring more Las Vegas hosted buyer hotels on board in the next few months.
An IMEX case history of IMEX America’s multi-partner sustainability efforts will be available later this summer.
* The APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standards for Accommodations were not released in time for this event and were not considered in the audit of the standards.