Helping to save the planet, one plastic water bottle at a time, the Sydney International Convention Centre (ICC Sydney) is set on making several environmentally friendly changes in the global convention and exhibition industry.
Coming from an industry where the amount of waste production is second only to the construction industry, ICC Sydney have mapped out steps to help the fight towards saving the planet. Just one such example is their waste reduction program, which has taken centre stage and has provided support for the environment and surrounding communities.
ICC Sydney was the winner of the UFI Sustainable Development Award 2020, with their waste reduction program securing them the top spot due to their practical and successful approach. The award recognises companies that have implemented a successful waste management approach for exhibitions, with the jury selecting sixteen best practices from thirteen different countries.
With their waste reduction program, the ICC Sydney aims to smash the goal of a 75% diversion rate of waste from landfill and to reduce waste tonnage year on year. The results so far have included 567 tonnes of exhibition waste material being diverted from landfill, along with non-recyclable items now avoiding landfill as well.
Photo: ICC Sydney
Initiatives such as front of house waste segregation bins and streams, offsite recycling, and organic waste processing, back of house waste separation systems and community partnerships for repurposing items have all become key to the program’s success. The waste segregation system separates waste into seven categories, including general waste, comingled recycling, organics, paper and cardboard, soft plastics and packaging, glass bottles and electronic waste.
Among other sustainable practices the ICC has implemented, there is also a Central Energy Plant which allows for multiple events to run at the same time, reducing the use of energy across the centre.
Water stations and compostable cups are also used to curtail high water consumption and bottled water has been removed from all meeting rooms. Over 1,000,000+ plastic bottles were saved from use in the first ten months by that small but mighty change.
Also, by removing plastic straws, coffee cup lids at tea and coffee stations, and individually wrapped mints, ICC Sydney have internally generated a 93% reduction in coffee cup lid purchases. Not only that but 520,000 individual mint plastic wrappers and 88,000 plastic straws will avoid landfill annually, showing how small steps can lead to bigger shifts.
Photo: Brian Yurasits
Accessible travel whilst reducing emissions is another point of interest, with ICC Sydney hosting Australia’s largest electric car charging station, allowing for the charging of 25 electric vehicles on site.
The mega venue has also created its own Green Events Guide, providing a framework for their clients to consider the social and environmental impacts of their events and how they can incorporate helpful changes in their planning.
The ICC’s Event Legacy Program helps clients deliver more sustainable and socially conscious events that benefit the broader community too.
This includes event organisers donating items that can be repurposed or reused after their event, which helps limit the amount of material going into landfill. So far, an impressive 26 tonnes of event items have been donated to community groups.
Photo: Markus Spiske
Edible centrepieces have also become an option, presented in recycled glass vases, they are reused at the end of the event to create meals for the Matthew Talbot Hostel, who provide accommodation to people who are homeless.
Food waste is also repurposed, either as fertiliser or recycled in partnership with local charity partners to help feed those in need, with the Matthew Talbot Hostel and OzHarvest having received around 7,870kg worth of food equivalent to around 23,610 meals.
Another initiative the ICC Sydney are planning to implement is the adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to ensure that they are helping our planet to live a long and prosperous life.
According to the United Nations, the SDG aims are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.
ICC Sydney have taken on a number of objectives to focus on, with the vision of a more sustainable future, including decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production and climate action.
Photo: Jilbert Ebrahimi
Currently in the third year of their three-year sustainability plan, new targets will be set in the coming months that will address ways that ICC Sydney can continue to reduce waste, emissions, and hunger.
“Each year our CSR Working Group, and the Executive team sets ambitious but achievable goals as part of our overarching business aim to make a difference in our community and environment by being a responsible business and actively contributing to our society,” a spokesperson from the ICC Sydney told Gig Nation.
The venue has also been chosen to host conversations around climate change, clean energy and decarbonisation technologies, set to accommodate the upcoming IX Summit from 2 to 3 November 2021. As Asia Pacific’s largest climate growth summit, discussions revolve around ways to achieve the goal of net zero emissions.
ICC Sydney are setting an example of practicing what they preach, contributing in both small and large ways in helping to create a sustainable future, not only for the events industry but for the wider community too.
Feature Photo: ICC Sydney