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New sustainability initiatives at Australia's convention centres
Australia’s convention centres are constantly evolving in the sustainability space, from converting retired uniforms into building materials to an innovative low carbon culinary offering.
In Brisbane/Meeanjin, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC) has developed a partnership with world-leading Brisbane-based textile recovery company BlockTexx. The recent arrival of the Centre’s new uniforms prompted BCEC to take advantage of this innovative new technology which turns textiles into reusable resources to prevent them going to landfill. BlockTexx, which has received international acclaim, turns cotton and linen into cellulose, captures and reuses polyester, and separates out wool and other man-made fibres for use in a range of applications. The end product is returned to varying industries for use in packaging, building products and even pharmaceuticals. BCEC will continue to work with BlockTexx to recycle linen that is no longer fit for purpose, including its linen tablecloths and napkins.
International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) is making a conscious effort to reduce its carbon footprint by releasing a unique new low-carbon menu. Developed by an in-house team of culinary experts, the dishes have been created based on a low estimated carbon footprint associated with the farming, harvesting, production, and transportation of ingredients. The 2023 Menu Collection offers 186 low-carbon dishes across six core menus and features creative carbon-friendly dishes such as oven baked salmon with leek puree, saltbush potatoes, shaved fennel and native sea succulents. The menu offers event organisers another avenue to make a positive difference to the environment and community, whilst also supporting First Nations-owned businesses.
Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC) is leading the charge when it comes to the management and reduction of waste to landfill, reducing total waste to landfill by an audited 96 per cent over the past 15 years. As part of its commitment to ongoing innovation in this space, ACC recently installed Adelaide/Tarntanya’s first WasteMaster – an innovative onsite food and organic waste recycling system which converts food waste to high value outputs including energy production, fertiliser and compost. The WasteMaster accelerates the decomposition of food waste – without water or additives – reducing total volume to a much smaller quantity of dry and odour-free residual organic material. The process reduces the weight and volume of food waste by up to 80 per cent after conversion, reducing equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by 84 per cent.
To prevent the use of more than one million disposable cups each year, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) in Melbourne/Narrm has been trialling a reusable cup scheme in partnership with a local reusable cup supplier, Returnr. MCEC purchased 10,000 stainless steel cups to provide a convenient alternative to single-use coffee cups at catered corporate events. The cups, along with dedicated units via which they are collected and washed, have been trialled at several events since December 2021, and have been well received by delegates.
Cairns Convention Centre has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by partnering with Business Events Cairns & Great Barrier Reef to launch an innovative destination carbon offset program. In conjunction with Australian-based platform Reforest and environmental management organisation Terrain, the Reforest program will facilitate the revegetation of the Wongabel Mabi Rainforest near Cairns, which had previously been cleared for forestry and agriculture. Reforest will calculate an event’s high-level carbon footprint and offer organisations options to offset their event by purchasing trees for planting in the local area, giving delegates a tangible way to offset their carbon footprint and give back to the destination they visit. The Centre’s new expansion is also due to open in mid-2023 and boasts an energy efficient design which features a living green façade optimised to reduce direct sunlight and heat gain.
In Western Australia’s capital of Perth/Boorloo, Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre (PCEC) has recently installed a special water filtration system to reduce the need for bottled water at events. The Vestal water filtration system allows PCEC to offer premium still and sparkling water using water that is sourced and filtered onsite. The water is served in elegant, high quality reusable bottles made of flint glass, reducing the need for water bottle delivery, storage and disposal.
Given Darwin/Gulumerrdgen’s close proximity to the Arafura Marine Park and the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, it’s particularly important to the Darwin Convention Centre to divert waste from landfill by ensuring its plastics are effectively recycled. The Centre has partnered with local community organisation Darwin Plastic Makers Space to introduce a new initiative whereby all plastic bottle caps from events are collected, sorted, and used as materials for hands-on educational art workshops. Plastic bottle lids were chosen due to their inability to be collected by large recycling companies due to their size.
In Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast, the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre has recently achieved its EarthCheck accreditation for the 14th consecutive year. Along with Adelaide Convention Centre and Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, GCCEC is one of few convention centres worldwide to be certified at Platinum level, which means it’s only one year away from Master certification level. The Centre is working on several new sustainability initiatives including a dedicated waste segregation project, and recently introduced a paperless parking system.
Published: 25 May 2023