Traditionally, the events and exhibitions industry in Hong Kong has been more focused on being business-friendly than being eco-friendly. However, in the last few years, this status quo has begun to change rapidly, as the idea that business and green values can coexist and indeed, create new and profitable synergies.
All around the world, including Asia, there is a growing push towards making events and exhibitions more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
By definition, events are temporary phenomena which consume large amounts of resources and often produce considerable quantities of waste.
In the past, this was simply seen as the cost of doing business; but in the increasingly resource-constrained world of today, the global events industry has begun to actively work towards becoming more eco-conscious.
Essentially, a ‘green event’ can be defined as one which is executed in an environmentally responsible way. Of course, this can be interpreted a variety of ways, but the basic aim of a green event is to conserve resources and minimise waste production as much as possible.
Well-established in some parts of the world, green events are still very much a new thing here in Hong Kong.
However, there are a number of core concepts that will help you give the environment a place at the table at your next event.
First, commit to making sustainable purchasing decisions right from the planning stage: for example, start by engaging suppliers that have green and sustainable policies, only use building materials that can be recycled, or even better use modular or component construction processes that allow materials to be re-used at future events.
The earlier these decisions are made, the lower the environmental impact of your event.
Second, use energy, water and other resources wisely - treat these natural resources as precious commodities to be conserved, rather than consumed.
Use energy-efficient lighting, replace air conditioning with fans where possible, install low-flow toilets and faucets and ensure electronics are switched off when not in use…there are hundreds of ways to make an event more energy- and resource-efficient.
Third, try to reduce your event’s transportation ‘footprint’: buy from local suppliers and use local products wherever possible to avoid using goods that have to travel long distances (thus increasing their carbon footprint and your transportation costs) and encourage ride-sharing and the use of public transport by event participants and staff.
Plus, if it’s not absolutely necessary to hold face-to-face meetings with clients and suppliers in other districts, cities and countries; definitely consider using teleconferencing or video conferencing - the technology has come a long way, meaning you don’t have to go a long way!
Finally, work towards minimising the waste produced by your event. ‘Zero-waste events’ are gaining ground in Europe and North America - so called because nothing from the event ends up in a landfill.
This is a difficult goal to achieve in Hong Kong, but it is certainly possible to dramatically cut down on waste by using compostable cutlery, plates and cups for F&B, separating and recycling glass bottles and aluminium cans, discouraging the use of plastic bags and packaging and providing event-related information electronically, rather than on paper.
By focusing on conserving resources, making sustainable purchasing decisions and minimising waste, you’ll be well on your way to greening your next event and increasing efficiencies at the same time.
The ultimate result will be a better corporate image and lower costs which will undoubtedly contribute to better business results.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.
Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.
Lawrence Chia is the Chairman and CEO of the Hong Kong-listed Pico Far East Holdings (Pico Group) (SEHK: 752).