ISO 20121 Sustainable Events

by Kishan Tambralli

Sustainable event management is an essential part of the event planning process because it ensures that planned events do not negatively impact the environment. It typically starts with determining your organization’s goals, such as reducing waste or increasing awareness and then set up systems to achieve those goals. 

How to Get ISO 20121

Whether small as a local sport or an international Olympic event, every event will have social and environmental impacts. Natural resources are put under pressure, and carbon emissions are generated. ISO Has created this standard where delegates from 25 countries participated in reducing this impact. Stakeholders from different event management industries also showed active participation.

Advantages of sustainable management

  • Financial benefits- Conserving energy, reducing and recycling wastage can result in saving expenses. Money spent on research and development of sustainable technologies is an investment that can save costs in the long run.
  • Positive image- Marketing the fact that you are organizing or hosting an event that is environment-friendly will at a reasonable cost will grab public as well as media attention. Companies keen to transition to sustainability will show interest either by funding or collaborating with you.
  • Inspiring change- A sustainable event is an excellent opportunity to spread awareness about the protecting environment among your community, encouraging other service providers, organizations to take up the change.

How to make events sustainable?

It takes a lot of work to make an event sustainable. You need to think about the materials you are using, the food served, and transportation for attendees. Events can be made more sustainable by taking care of these things:

How to Make Events Sustainable

  • Digital tools- From printing contracts to posters, there are a dozen uses of paper which could be one of the largest sources of waste generated before or during an event. Use digital tools like DocuSign, which can allow digital signature and avoid paperwork to be reviewed and any form to be filled. Use social media platforms to increase the reach of your audience instead of depending on printed ads.
  • Biodegradable plates and cups- Biodegradable cups and plates are a great alternative to traditional disposable dinnerware. These products are made from materials that will biodegrade in the environment after use, like cornstarch-based PLA (polylactic acid) which is 100% compostable, or plant-based paper which can also be recycled.
  • Energy conservation- Event managers use carbon-neutral and solar energy methods to save energy, although these may seem unrealistic for small events. Many small strategies can be applied at events like using energy-saving lights, smart power strips, and insulating the venue.
  • Reduce food waste- Find ways to reduce what gets thrown away at your event so it doesn’t end up in a landfill or incinerator after the party is over. Catering produces vast amounts of waste more than any other department. There is no need for event managers to spend food on more than people need. With more thoughtful planning, you can make the Catering a bit smaller.
  1. Before the event, ask attendees to fill out details about their food preferences and how much they would like to eat through a digital form. These details will give you exact information about their choices.
  2. Prefer seasonal and locally grown food
  3. Try to compost leftover food.
  • Conduct virtual events – Many events can be conducted online using that can accumulate many attendees. These events can be easier to host and increase the attendance rate compared to offline ones. It generates a higher revenue by reducing travel, food, and venue costs.

How to get ISO20121 certified?

  • Gap Analysis- Gap analysis is a company’s pre-assessment practice. A closer look is taken at the event management practices and compared with the ISO20121 requirements. This helps identify weaker areas that require more effort before a formal assessment is carried out.
  • Formal assessment- The organization’s controls and procedures are checked and compared with ISO20121 requirements. The implementation of guidelines and rules are assessed to ensure they are working effectively required for certification.
  • Certification and beyond- Once you have passed your formal assessment, you will receive an ISO20121 certificate with three years of validity. During this period, your client manager will stay in touch by paying regular visits to ensure your procedures remain updated as per the changing requirements.

Principles of sustainable events:

Organizing a sustainable event is a process that begins before the event takes place. Make sure you start planning early in advance as many events may fail due to late planning. In particular, always remember to follow these steps:

Principles of Sustainable Events

  • Planning- Create a plan with objectives, responsibilities, deadlines, deadlines, resources, and appropriate actions.
  • Allocation of resources These resources can be time, staff, or money to meet the requirements, and an emergency fund also needs to be arranged if any additional necessity arises at the last moment.
  • Step by step approach- If you are a small business, start gradually by focusing on one or two events since you have a small team, then move on to the other aspects. Utilize the resources you have to their optimum level, then expand your goals in the next event.
  • Communication- One of the most important criteria for your event’s success depends on sharing what you know and what you have done. If you have taken sustainable steps, ensure your attendees and stakeholders know your sustainable activities. Use different communication channels and creative techniques to convey your information.
  • Sustainable procurement- Sustainable procurement is the process of creating a company’s supply chain so that it can be sustained indefinitely. This means no raw materials are wasted; all suppliers are ethically sourced, and environmentally friendly practices are used to produce goods. Many companies have made sustainable procurement part of their business plan simply because it will help them save money in the long run.
  • Monitor and report- Track the progress and outcomes of your sustainable activities to find weaker areas, measure achievements, and set goals for the future. Share your results through various marketing and communication tools to attract clients and investors.