GUEST BLOG BY PRESIDENT AT MPI BELGUIM: WHAT PRACTICAL EVIDENCE SHOULD I SEE TO KNOW MY EVENT IS SUSTAINABLE

This month's theme is 'easy ways to know my event is sustainable.' We asked Mariska Kesteloo, the president of MPI Belgium, to discuss this theme further. Offering a Meetings Go Green guide for event professionals, these easy steps can be followed to make the process easier. 

WHAT PRACTICAL EVIDENCE SHOULD I SEE TO KNOW MY EVENT IS SUSTAINABLE

A lot of event planners and suppliers are struggling with this question. Therefore MPI Belgium, the international association for Meeting Professionals in Belgium has developed Meetings Go Green guide. This guide has been developed as part of the project, led by the MPI Belgium Chapter and funded by the Brussels Institute for Environmental Management (Bruxelles Environnement) within the Brussels Waste Network (BWN) programme. The purpose of this guide is to provide tools, best practices and courses of action to event managers for organising eco-friendly low-waste activities, highlighting several existing innovative solutions. During the entire year, MPI Belgium organised 4 workshops for suppliers and planners to create awareness around sustainable events.

We would like to share interesting insights concerning the topic, how can you see that your event is sustainable. We have divided the process of the event in three parts: before the event, during the event and after the event. 

BEFORE THE EVENT

1. You no longer want to see the contents of beautiful freshly laid plates end up in the bin! Good communication with your suppliers is key for success.

2. In order to estimate the quantity of food needed, it is essential to ask a series of questions beforehand. Approximately two months before the event, when ordering from the catering service: Ask for a quote based on a 40% participation rate.

3. Ask for the deadline for confirming the number of participants.

4. Approximately two months before the event, when sending invitations to participants: Provide a checkbox for the attendance at lunch during event registration, in order to estimate the number of people who will be present at lunch.

5. Ask participants to notify as soon as possible of their withdrawal.

DURING THE EVENT

1. Confirm the exact number of participants to the caterer so that they can keep part of the food in the fridge and avoid transporting everything to the event site in case the number of participants is less than the number originally foreseen.

2. Take the meals/sandwiches out of the fridge only as people are served. This way you can propose them to your staff or for another event (e.g. caterer) the same day or the day after. This will also allow you to follow the conditions (imposed by the AFSCA) for donating to a charity.

3. Propose plates/portions of various sizes to participants: small, medium or large in order to adapt the offer to the audience depending on their appetites;

4. Contact a food aid association (or other related association) directly if you estimate that there will be a significant amount of food left over so that it can organise the logistics for a pick-up.

AFTER THE EVENT

1. Donate leftover food to your staff by offering them to take home the surplus us if they wish. It is a good idea to provide supplies such as doggy bags to facilitate the collection and transport of the surplus.

2. Attention caterers and chefs: Prepare leftovers for new meals using a maximum of what is still consumable and respecting the hygiene rules imposed by the (Belgian) food safety agency AFSCA. You can find tips for new recipes based on leftovers (e.g. salads, sauces, etc.). More and greater recipes with leftovers are available online.

3. Call the Federation of Social Services (FDSS) or directly a food aid organisation to organise the collection of surplus in the best possible condition. Good communication during all three parts of the event with all your suppliers is key for success!

Good luck with your upcoming event. If you interested to know more about this topic, you can download the Meetings Go Green guide by clicking here. 

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