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What Does “Circularity” Mean for Meetings?

Refine your ideas about event sustainability by thinking upstream rather than downstream.

Meeting professionals with sustainability and social impact among their planning goals should be thinking less about waste and more about circularity.

That was among the themes of a recent MeetingsNet webinar led by Mariela McIlwraith, vice president of sustainability and industry advancement at the Events Industry Council, and Yalmaz Siddiqui, vice president, corporate sustainability at MGM Resorts International and chair of the EIC Sustainability and Social Impact Committee.

“At the moment, the world has a linear economy where materials and resources are taken, used, and then wasted. The transition to a circular economy is about avoiding the linear and thinking more about circular flows of resources,” said Siddiqui.

The mindset change for the event industry is for planners to think about the materials they’re buying or sourcing for their live events rather than starting their thinking with waste management in mind (for example, how to measure landfill and recycling at the end of the event). “Think more about the beginning; think more about what is being purchased, and about what will be done with what is purchased at the end of the event,” Siddiqui explained. “The shift is really from the downstream to the upstream.”

An advantage to looking upstream at the materials used for events is that the values and practices of suppliers can also be considered, said Siddiqui. “Are you buying from entities that are thinking about sustainability and social impact themselves and being fair and diverse?” he asked. McIlwraith added that a shift to thinking about circularity positions planners to consider whether items are genuinely needed, how are they produced, and what their full impact will be.

On the 60-minute webinar, “Reimagining Sustainability and Social Impact in the Events Industry,” McIlwraith and Siddiqui also discussed ideas at the intersection of meeting planning and social impact, well-being, climate, and inclusion. The event is now available on demand and attendees can earn one credit toward verification or reverification of their Certified Meeting Professional designation.

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