It’s Recycle Week in the UK this week, and to mark the occasion we thought we would take a look at how to improve recycling – and reduce the materials we use – at medical education events.
For a large event, there might be a wide variety of materials produced, from welcome letters and departure instructions, to signage, agendas and delegate notebooks, to name badges, lanyards, bottled water, stage sets, and more. Here’s some pointers for the kinds of things we try to do at Remedica to minimize production, maximize recycling, and generally be kinder to the planet.
Reduce the amount of printed items you make
The process starts at the event planning stage, when we create a list of materials to be produced and question whether each item is actually necessary:
- For a large event, an event app can replace printed agendas, venue maps, and question cards
- For smaller events, sending delegates the agenda and meeting info as a PDF formatted for phone can also work
- Not all signage needs to be printed; venues often have digital signage (i.e. screens, small and large) that can be used
- Consider producing generic event (e.g. client-branded, or plain) materials that can be reused for several events
Plus, this also reduces print costs, shipping costs and the impact of shipping on carbon emissions. Triple win!
Use recycled and recyclable materials
Not all materials are created equal. As well as recycling, we can also start by:
- Using recycled materials – specifically paper and card stock. There are some good recycled paper options available, but if you can’t find anything suitable then consider using uncoated, FSC certified paper and avoid adding laminations and coatings
- Making name badges out of card stock with reusable lanyards instead of plastic badges or badges in plastic holders
- Avoiding other plastic items like water bottles, carrier bags, shrink wrapping, pens, etc. – see if you can find more sustainable alternatives (pencils!)
Provide the means to recycle
In years gone by, once we’d distributed all the delegate materials, we would tick off a job well done. But we need to make it easy for delegates to recycle the items they don’t want to keep, so:
- Put recycle bins for materials around the venue, with clear instructions about which items go in which bin
- Consider putting recycle bins at the back of auditorium in the last session, and having the Chair mention recycling during wrap-up
- Collect lanyards and other items that can be reused for future events
- Make sure the venue has recycling plans in place and understands what to do with all the recycling you’ve collected – or if they don’t, take those materials back to the office with you to add to your own recycling
Overall, it’s a case of considering the entire lifecycle of event materials, including recycling, for every event. And actually, given the effort it takes by both agency and client to create event materials, get them approved, printed, shipped, and make sure they’re delivered in time, recycling is the easy part.
Speak to us if you'd like to learn more about how to improve your green credentials at your next event, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org today.