Conference and fair events are fully integrated into the cities’ economic activity. They are highly valued as place marketers, promoting tourism and talent-attraction. Considering sustainability, they can make critical choices to have a positive influence not only on the local environment but also to avoid embodied impacts in the form of CO2 emissions, land, and water use. The increase of this kind of activity and not taking into consideration the COVID-19 crisis, motivates this article to des...
Conference and fair events are fully integrated into the cities’ economic activity. They are highly valued as place marketers, promoting tourism and talent-attraction. Considering sustainability, they can make critical choices to have a positive influence not only on the local environment but also to avoid embodied impacts in the form of CO2 emissions, land, and water use. The increase of this kind of activity and not taking into consideration the COVID-19 crisis, motivates this article to describe the process to design the “Circular Conference Toolkit” which aims to provide tips for organizing more sustainable conferences. The Circular Conference Toolkit lowers carbon emissions contributing to achieve carbon neutrality, reduces and recirculates waste towards zero waste, and increases sustainability awareness amongst the attendees promoting sustainable consumption to conference and fair events. Following the Action-Research methodology, the toolkit was piloted in the 19th ERSCP Conference as a case study. Under the research paradigm of pragmatism, the design process was divided into three cycles; the first one implied analysing the state of the art; the second cycle consisted firstly in designing the tools through stakeholders and location analysis, brainstorming, co-creation and co-decision matrix. Secondly, piloting the toolkit in the case study and thirdly involving the post-conference evaluation that presented an assessment of the sustainable initiatives implemented during the ERSCP 19 Conference including a checklist, an environmental impact assessment, surveys and social media analysis. The environmental impact assessment was carried out through the comparison of two material flow analyses represented with Sankey diagrams of the estimation of the conference streams, with and without the implementation of the Circular Conference Toolkit. This analysis showed savings of 20th European Round Table on Sustainable Consumption and Production Graz, September 8 – 10, 2021 GHG emissions due to the use of renewable energies, and the CO2 offset program, which compensated 19% of the attendees' travel emissions (49000kg of 252426,38kg of CO2 eq/kg). Regarding materials, the strategy adopted considered a degrowth and an ecological perspective in the conference purchasing. The use of paper was reduced from around 400kg to 20kg thanks to digitalization. Plastic use also showed a significant reduction, from approximately 500kg to 4kg as a result of the zero plastic approach during the conference. Refusing plastic packaging at the catering in favor of compostable and biodegradable materials and avoiding other plastics by eliminating merchandising gifts to the attendees contributed to reducing the amount of plastic used. After strongly reducing waste streams, ensuring the treatment of the remaining waste through a conscious-chosen circular approach contributed to enhancing the sustainability of the event. The result of the whole process was the Circular Conference Toolkit, a set of 37 guidelines divided by areas of action consisting of carbon neutrality, towards zero waste and sustainable consumption. The toolkit encompasses an open process of collaboration and reflection where the conference attendees, organisers and service providers are all included.
Santamaria, M.; Segalas, J.; Galofré, V.G. Circular conference toolkit. Case study ERSCP 2019 conference. A: European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production. "Proceedings of the 20th European roundtable on sustainable consumption and production: Graz, Austria: September 8-10, 2021". 2021, p. 531-552. ISBN 978-3-85125-842-4.