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Reducing and diverting waste

31 May 2021

At ICC Sydney we believe that knowledge is indeed power and education can bring about progress. To this end, we are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our operations, working with our partners and clients to facilitate sustainable events. We also recognise our responsibility to demonstrate leadership and make a positive contribution towards the waste crisis in Australia and the business events industry.
Key waste management systems and processes are critical to the achievement of this objective.

The challenge in the business events context

The global convention and exhibition industry is one of the largest producers of waste in terms of industry size. As we emerge from the COVID crisis, we need to turn our attention and efforts to the climate crisis. For ICC Sydney, this means working with our clients as partners so that together we can reduce and divert waste from landfill.

ICC Sydney’s CSR Plan

ICC Sydney recognises the importance of leadership and its responsibility to make a positive contribution towards the waste crisis within Australia. Through a proactive approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, ICC Sydney engages with a broad range of stakeholders to drive positive financial, social and environmental impacts across New South Wales and through the events it hosts. ICC Sydney’s innovative and industry first Event Legacy Program formalised the process through which clients can deliver sustainable events, connect with Sydney’s vibrant communities and deliver lasting event legacies

ICC Sydney’s CSR Plan aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

# 8 Decent work and economic growth
#10 Reduced inequalities
#11 Sustainable cities and communities
#12 Responsible consumption and production
#13 Climate action
#17 Partnerships for the goals

Waste management guided by United Nations SDG #12: Responsible consumption and production

Responsible consumption and production, SDG #12, is critical to the achievement of ICC Sydney’s sustainable operations targets. With this in mind, we formulated a waste reduction project guided by the refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover methodology. A SWOT analysis assisted the team in identifying the objectives, strategy and planning required to achieve a successful waste management program for the exhibitions and events industry.

We took a multi-faceted approach to our waste reduction project, acknowledging the scope of the task. All aspects of event waste and stakeholder landscape were considered with actions created to address a broad range of opportunities available, whilst building a strong foundation for future developments.

Targets of our waste reduction program:

  • In 2021/222 we are aiming to divert 75% from land fill.
  • Zero captured organic waste to landfill.
  • Reduce waste tonnage year on year.

Waste reduction – practical, visible and streamlined

In 2021, through a very thorough review process across all Departments, ICC Sydney’s CSR team has enhanced our waste signage program by identifying additional waste streams and seeking out educational and communication avenues for our clients, team members, suppliers and event attendees where to place their waste materials.

Located throughout ICC Sydney’s front and back of house areas at various touch points, the refreshed waste signage features striking colours and appealing imagery. This simple but effective messaging increases the ease with which event attendees can identify the correct place for their waste while further streamlining the waste management process, encouraging further diversion from landfill.

Top tips to help you recycle and divert waste from landfill – at a glance

1. Do the right thing – divert organics from landfill

Did you know that when placed into the appropriately labelled bin, composted organic waste can later be turned into fertiliser and energy?

Organic matter may include items such as food scraps, tea bags and coffee grounds as well as compostable packaging (think ICC Sydney’s paper BioCup coffee cups, paperboard trays, lunchboxes, sugarcane bowls and napkins). Note that not all coffee cups are compostable. Remember to read the label and when in doubt, place the product into general waste.

As part of ICC Sydney’s commitment to deliver better environmental outcomes from waste, we source certified commercially compostable packaging for use within food and beverage. Furthermore, we have engaged EarthPower, a local waste facility, to process compostable packaging. EarthPower was selected as they generate the best output; fertiliser and green energy.

Another avenue for diverting our edible centrepieces or food that would otherwise have landed in waste, is to redirect and donate food to the Matthew Talbot Hostel. Matthew Talbot Hostel serves food to men that are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

2. It’s easy to divert hard plastics

Equally as effective, recycled plastics are turned into plastic bottles, park benches and packaging. ICC Sydney’s recycling waste stream accommodates plastic bottles, aluminium and steel cans, milk cartons and
Tetrapacks as well as hard plastic containers.

3. Look no further for a solution for soft, clean and CLEAR plastic

We have also invested in the collection of soft, clean and clear plastics at key waste deposit areas to capture event waste items such as shrink wrap, trolley covers and bubble wrap. It is advised to avoid wrapping your event materials in black plastic as this cannot be recycled.

4. Avoid or manage your dry waste

To manage dry waste (such as MDF) diversion from landfill, ICC Sydney has teamed up with ResourceCo to process this dry waste and use it to produce an alternative fuel resource.  In 2019/2020, ICC Sydney was able to divert 230 tonnes of exhibition waste material from landfill using this process and we will work with our clients to provide this option again.

5. See the value in your waste

We have developed a donations program for clients and exhibitors to nominate items and materials to be used beyond the immediate lifespan of their event. To ensure goods are channelled through to those who need them:

  • Items can be registered through an online form prior to the event.
  • Waste stickers to identify waste for disposal and items for donation during bump-out can be created.
  • ICC Sydney coordinates donations to an appropriate community group post-event, who appreciate the opportunity to repurpose items.

To activate this service, please speak to your dedicated Event Manager who will work with you to make these arrangements.

6. What else can clients do?

The environmental sustainability stream of the Legacy Program promotes waste management initiatives from the donations program, and leveraging ResourceCo, to supporting you in designing event specific waste signage and communicating sustainability initiatives.

Through the Legacy Program, ICC Sydney’s business development team and event managers encourage and welcome you to consider waste management practices from the outset, and a CSR representative will support you to achieve their sustainability goals.

We invite you to read the ICC Sydney Sustainable Event Guide which was created to educate and support you on your sustainability journey. The Sustainability at ICC Sydney section overviews environmental and community initiatives in place at the venue. This includes waste management and waste segregation streams available onsite. The Sustainable Event and Plastic Free Event Checklists are useful tools when planning a sustainable event, and provide tangible tips on reducing and managing waste.

Together we can make a difference

At ICC Sydney, we are dedicated to making constant small improvements to our Corporate Social Responsibility practices in order to deliver positive outcomes for our clients, attendees, team members and the broader community. As part of this process, we aim to not only minimise our water and energy expenditure but to reduce waste wherever possible, with the help of our new company wide waste signage program.

We invite all our clients, suppliers and attendees to take a moment to view the new signage and consider how you dispose of your waste next time you visit us – we are confident that together we can make a positive impact on our environment.

“We take our responsibility to act in a socially conscious and environmentally sound manner very seriously and are immensely proud to have been recognised with some of Australia’s – and the world’s – highest sustainability ratings.

“As an industry, we have more work to do and we are looking forward to collaborating with partners, clients and delegates to collectively reduce the footprint of our operations year-on-year and make a positive contribution to the broader community beyond the city’s borders.”
Geoff Donaghy — CEO of ICC Sydney