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Sustainability Report Highlights Current Efforts and Future Goals

A report on the sustainability of IMEX Group’s 2023 events-industry exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany, provides ideas and inspiration for others working to lower the carbon impact of their meetings and conventions.

IMEX Group, which produces exhibitions for the global events industry, has released a white paper on its sustainability efforts at its 2023 show in Frankfurt, Germany. The 23-page report is valuable to meeting professionals in other industries on at least four levels:

• Understanding what can be measured and improved. The IMEX Sustainable Event Report has nine sections: destination and venue choices, waste management, food and beverage, energy and water, ground transportation, gala dinner, sustainable exhibiting, material donations, education and community impact, and equity and well-being. Each section reports on a number of metrics that IMEX tracks. For example, in the waste-management section, the paper shares IMEX Frankfurt’s total waste per attendee, waste incinerated per attendee, the volume of name badges and lanyards recovered, the reduction in the amount of carpet used, and other data.

Watching IMEX Group’s progress. This is the second year for the report, so environmental efforts are now being benchmarked over time. IMEX has committed to the Net-Zero Carbon Events pledge and has created a bold goal for itself: to reach net-zero by 2030, well ahead of the 2050 target set by NZCE.

• Seeing how sustainability can be effectively communicated. For some event producers, sharing information on their sustainability efforts could be key to getting stakeholder support for destination, venue, and event-design choices. IMEX’s 23-page report, produced in conjunction with sustainability consultants Meet Green, communicates the Frankfurt event’s sustainability efforts in a clear and engaging way, using text, charts, and images to tell the story. Even for stakeholders only focused on the data, the IMEX report is a reminder to highlight and reiterate the facts you want people to remember.

• Appreciating that sustainability is a journey. As much as IMEX has accomplished around sustainability, the report highlights seven new goals for IMEX Frankfurt 2024, including sourcing carpeting made from recycled content, piloting a food-donation program, limiting food waste, and encouraging rail transit. By being upfront about what they’ve accomplished as well as what’s left to accomplish, the report reminds planners that sustainability is achieved incrementally.

Sustainability Highlights from IMEX Frankfurt 2023
• The event used four electric buses to transport attendees from Frankfurt’s Hauptbahnhof railway station to Messe Frankfurt. While that represented less than 3 percent of the distance traveled by the show’s ground transportation, it saved an estimated 103 kg CO2e. To offset the fossil-fuel portion of fleet emissions, IMEX contracted for 1,000 trees to be planted.

• IMEX estimates a 38-percent decrease in single-use “build & burn” booths compared to 2019 levels, as a result of its exhibitor sustainability education efforts.

• Because beef production creates far more carbon emissions than other protein choices, IMEX reduced the amount of beef on the menus in the show’s Hall 9 food court to less than five percent of the items. The result was that 58 percent of the meals served were vegetarian, 39 percent included chicken or fish, and three percent included beef.

• For the first time, the area between Hall 8 and Hall 9, where people walk between the exhibition and the learning area, was left uncarpeted. This reduced the amount of carpeting that would have ended up in the waste stream by almost 10,000 square feet.

Read the full Sustainable Event Report for IMEX Frankfurt 2023, here.

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