Monterey County Launches Sustainable Events Tool

Monterey, California

A new tool by Monterey is targeting a major roadblock to sustainable events.

The Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau (MCCVB) has partnered with Positive Impact, an org that is facilitating sustainable meetings throughout the industry, to address the prevalence of single-use plastics in events. The duo released a set of educational tools and resources on Earth Day to help all stakeholders in the MICE industry—planners, suppliers and attendees—develop alternatives to single-use plastics.

Single-use plastics, or plastic products that are used once and then discarded, account for roughly half of all global plastic production. The amount of discarded single-use plastics that pervade the earth’s oceans is equivalent to pouring in one full garbage truck every minute. In the US, just 9 percent of overall plastic waste is recycled. At this rate, by 2050 there may be more plastic in our treasured oceans than fish.

As a sector that contributes much to the plastics crisis, the MICE industry is also aptly positioned to be a solution to the problem. Recent industry surveys show a steady increase in the importance of environmental sustainability during the site selection process. “Sustainable practices are growing as a key factor in how meeting planners select destinations for their conferences,” explains Tammy Blount-Canavan, president and CEO at the MCCVB. “We maintain a Client Advisory Board consisting of top planners from around the US who have made clear the importance of environmental responsibility. Playing a leading role in addressing single-use plastics fulfills a core element of our destination values.”

“Sustainable practices are growing as a key factor in how meeting planners select destinations for their conferences.”

In addition to providing actionable resources, the MCCVB offers those in the industry a chance to pledge their commitment to minimizing the impact of plastic waste in the events industry. Positive Impact is launching an app for event organizers and attendees to identify plastics use, and IMEX Frankfurt will hold a number of educational sessions on the initiative, including one by Pelham, as well as the first-ever politician’s Sustainability Policy Roundtable which will include a discussion on policy support to address plastics.

“The events industry definitely uses plastics in a variety of ways, and this process will not happen overnight, but over years,” says Fiona Pelham, CEO of Positive Impact. “We now have the resources in place to identify how plastic is used in the events industry and the opportunity to work with experts to find alternatives that will not have a negative environmental impact.”

The ditching of single-use plastics is a worldwide initiative that is shared by the United Nations Environment team, as well as industry organizations such as Freeman Informa, IBTM World, Meeting Planners International (MPI), ILEA, SPIN, ASAE and PCMA.

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