Lynne Waite, Head of Sustainability Policy at Smart Group, tells us how she is helping to encourage environmental awareness in the events industry.

As part of our HeadBox Connect Panel Event: A Guide to Planning Sustainable Events, Lynne joined us at ZSL along with Michael Barsties, Head of the Food Waste Heroes Programme at OLIO and Jordanna Virdee, Event Manager and Team Green Committee Member, Barclays International Events to discuss how event planners can ensure their events are as sustainable as possible.
As part of her role looking after sustainability for Smart Group, Lynne was brought in to look at how the business are operating under current practices and how they can take that next step to become a more sustainable business within their own sector. In terms of the major barriers the events industry has to overcome Lynne highlights the challenge of educating event planners on how to go about being more sustainable and debunking the myth that sustainability is expensive.

panel event with audience looking at four panellists
Lynne Wait (second from the left) at the HeadBox Connect panel event at ZSL

I’m always asked how I manage waste after an event and how we can we encourage event planners to be more sustainable?
“Whilst it’s fine to ask me what I’m doing to help the industry become more sustainable what I actually prefer to do is ask you what you are doing about it from your side. Have you considered using recycled paper? Do you need to single-use name badges? It’s these little things we need to think about.
“Because if you imagine a conference for 2000 people. Every single person who attends that conference gets a single paper badge. There’ll be loads of marketing material around that day for the conference and then in the evening when it becomes an award dinner there’s a really nice glossy brochure and we might even get through 10,000 single-use paper cups.”

Debunking myths surrounding sustainability in the events industry is something that Lynne deals with on a daily basis, the biggest of which she is keen to address is the idea that running a sustainable event is expensive.

event Space with round tables
Smart Group provide hospitality for event venue Here East

“The suggestion that sustainability is expensive is a myth. In the last seven months that we’ve changed our practices at Smart Group we’ve actually shown an uplift on our bottom line by doing what we’re doing. And it’s minor, tiny changes that we’ve made. But those little footprints can make a massive difference.
“We’ve moved away from buying vegetables that still need to be peeled. Yes, it’s costing us as a business a little bit more money because it’s been pre-prepared but I’m saving on labour because my chefs aren’t having to prepare it. And it’s also the consideration about that they’re not responsible for that food waste.
“A good example is that one of our fruit and veg suppliers deliver mushrooms in small crates. Well, once they’re empty generally they end up in the bin. One of our suppliers is actually now paying his driver to wait for that crate to be empty to take back so they can be re-used.”


HeadBox is on a mission to reinvent the global events industry through technology, but we believe you can’t reinvent an industry without letting the outside in. HeadBox Connect brings together stories, experiences and learnings from a vast array of industries, with the sole purpose of inspiring you to deliver positive change in your industry to make brilliant things happen.

You can listen to the full recording of HeadBox Connect: A Guide to Planning Sustainable Events Podcast here and read all about the event here.

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