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International Confex: How UK venues are demonstrating real action on sustainability

By Michael Jones.

International Confex 21’s Let’s Do London Theatre kicked off its second day at ExCel London with a discussion titled ‘Stepping Forward on CSR: How UK venues are demonstrating real action on sustainability’.

The panel explored the practical measures taken by venues to help them stand out on sustainability, as they quickly look to re-brand and refine their product in the post-pandemic world.

Speakers included Glenn Mainwaring, business development at the Barbican Centre; Edward Poland, co-founder of Hire Space; Kate Simpson, head of marketing and communications at Business Design Centre; and Chantal Kerr-Shepherd, director of Event Cycle.

The panel initially discussed the opportunity a post-pandemic world offers the industry to become more sustainable. In regard to the momentum created towards sustainable policies before the pandemic, Kerr-Shepherd thinks it’s now time to move to “action” on these plans. Mainwaring stated that working from home has found to be “very effective and should mean we no longer need to travel into work five days a week”.

The economic benefits of sustainable policies were also emphasised throughout the discussion. In relation to efficiently recycling materials after an event, Kerr-Shepherd believes that you “can find a home for pretty much everything”. Additionally, Mainwaring believes that his venue’s sustainability policy is truly a sales tool, as green business, he says, have been attracted to working with the centre.

Simpson concluded that it is essential to empower everyone throughout the business to buy into the policies of sustainability. Without this, the panel agreed, sustainability policies become diluted.