How to reduce plastic and paper in 3 easy steps


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Reduce your event's environmental footprint with these simple ideas.

As businesses become increasingly conscious of their environmental footprint, the first step for many event planners is to look at how to reduce plastic and paper waste.

Marriott International have taken lengthy steps to boost sustainability efforts across its hotels and venues. But there are lots of simple steps event planners can take to keep the enviroment front of mind for delegates.

Here, Sean Hunt, Marriott’s area vice president, Australia, NZ and the Pacific, shares three easy tips:

Step 1: Make it easy for attendees to recycle

Recycling paper and plastic – including packaging, plastic cups, pens and notepaper – is a vital to reducing landfill, says Hunt.

“With any event, there will be waste,” he says.

“Attendees may prefer to take notes with pen and paper, gifts may arrive in packaging. However, making it easy for attendees to recycle items appropriately will help reduce waste.”

At Pier One Sydney Harbour, bins are available to collect delegates’ cans and plastic bottles, while a separate cardboard collection area makes it easy for attendees and planners to recycle appropriately.

Step 2: Check how you’re serving drinks

While serving drinks in disposable cups or bottles might make cleaning up easier, these items are major contributors to plastic and paper waste.

Hunt says serving drinks from refillable jugs or bottles is one way to reduce plastic.

“For example, Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Gold Coast is leading the way in going plastic free, implementing a long-term plan to eliminate up to 179,000 plastic bottles from the resort by serving water and drinks in refillable bottles,” he says.

“Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel is reviewing a program with its fresh juice supplier to see juice served on tap at the hotel rather than in plastic bottles – the move will eliminate approximately 3000 plastic bottles a month from being used at the hotel.

“Another idea is providing attendees with a reusable coffee cup or water bottle that they can not only use throughout the meeting or event, but that they can take home afterwards. These items make for a great gift and can also easily be branded with a company logo.”

Step 3: Redesign materials to reduce waste

It’s imperative for event planners to be conscious of the materials that are being used in events.

Hunt says it might be necessary to redesign or replace items throughout the venue.

“For example, at Pier One Sydney Harbour, the team has redesigned its notepads to half the size to reduce waste,” he says.

“Or look for items made from biodegradable and compostable materials. The team supplies wheat straw pens made from the left-over stalks of harvested wheat that are 100 per cent renewable, while the takeaway boxes and utensils used at the venue are compostable.

“Other ideas could include using alternatives to plastic straws (such as metal), sending handout materials via email before or after the event, rather than providing printouts that may go in the bin, and ensuring any gift bags handed out are made from reusable materials.”

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