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Leading industry figures gather for mia sustainability conference

The Meetings Industry Association (mia) recently kicked off its campaign to encouraging the business meetings and events industry to use less single-use plastic, with a roundtable discussion.

Key discussions from the debate, which is being championed by mia chair Kay England, included engaging government, metrics and benchmarking, addressing cost issues, sharing best practice and working collaboratively with other sustainability leaders.

The roundtable was the industry’s first debate focusing on the issues and opportunities facing the sector. It aims to reach caterers, hotels, venues and suppliers in the business meetings and events industry across the UK.

Industry panellists shared ways they were operating more sustainably. Ivor Turner, general manager at The Lensbury, described how sales dropped by 50 per cent when they initially removed plastic bottles from their vending machines – until they educated guests. 

He said: “People aren’t as green as they make out to be. People have habits and having the tin didn’t register. As soon as we put the reason up, the sales went back up.”

The discussion turned to the importance of agreed and set metrics for measuring sustainability, as well as introducing official accreditation for venues and suppliers.

Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia, commented: “Demonstrating the impact and your savings is what I think the mia needs to take responsibility for. Helping people with a template or something that says ’this is how you measure it, this is how you take it to your client and this is your saving’ will be key, because you’ve got to sell it to the accountant as well.”

After the debate, mia chair Kay England, said: “It was fantastic to have some of the leading minds in the industry and sustainability sharing their passion, expertise and ideas on turning the tide on single-use plastic during our initial roundtable.

“Their commitment and enthusiasm has helped further fuel the mia’s desire to effect positive change. We are now finalising the framework of the campaign and compiling a whitepaper.” 

To find out more about the mia, visit