Any organiser of events interested in eco-responsibility will sooner or later have come into contact with the Sustainable Development standard specific to events: the ISO 20121 standard.
The ISO 20121 standard deals with "Responsible management specific to event activities". Developed in 2012, it is applicable to organisations of any size that contribute to the design and implementation of events, be they organisers, service providers or site managers.
Adapted to all types of events, it has an aim to help professionals define the means to mobilise and integrate the principles of sustainable development during the organisation of an event, via a management system applicable to both large companies and small businesses. The certification represents an international variation of the British standard (BS 8901) and is recognized in more than 30. One of the first global examples was the ISO 20121 certification of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
More red tape... What is the point of this certification?
- The certification of your event makes it possible to formalise your approach on sustainable development in a clear and globally recognised way.
- This approach will form the basis of motivating not only your employees to improve internal processes but also helps with the dialogue with external contacts (i.e. contractors, subcontractors and suppliers).
- Finally, ISO 20121 certification will give visibility and credibility to your commitment.
How to obtain the certification
The certification is obtained following an audit carried out by an independent certifying body. Upstream, a specialised firm can assist you in this process. The methodology will be different depending on whether your event is punctual or recurrent with, for this second case, a phased audit during the next editions of your event.
Beyond the commitments already made, the chosen firm will guide you according to several defined axes:
- The commitment of management in a sustainable development policy with short and medium terms goal setting.
- Increased awareness through training of all employees mobilised during your events.
- Noticeable internal actions and results but also via external service providers.
- Continual improvement of operations and a dynamic initiative in sustainable development.
In terms of duration, the ISO 20121 certification takes roughly 4 to 12 months to complete implementation. The duration, of course, varies according to the event concerned (size or type), the size of the organizing structure and the scope of certification.
Eco-Friendly Event Marketing Campaigns
For those of us who work in event management/promotion one resource, in particular, that is in a constant state of flux; ordering, stock checking, re-ordering, repeat.. is paper and ink. The common uses being for brochures, newsletters, pamphlets, flyers, posters.. the list goes on. In an approach to eco-responsible communication, the question of how to control paper supplies is often summed up simply as "print less" & "whatever you do, don't make a typo mistake". This reflection may be credible, despite everything, however, I do not believe it really helps with resource management in the long-term.
Although not directly linked to eco-responsible communication, The Bridgewater Hall who regularly produce informative blog articles on event planning, (and a Unique Space For Hire In Manchester) have outlined straightforward SMART objectives which would be a good starting point towards implementing long-lasting changes for event/marketing strategies.
For several years now, paper has been awarded labels aiming to certify an environmentally friendly approach. Alas, like the food industry and its innumerable labels, it is sometimes necessary to know how to clear the ground before making your choices. We will try to find ourselves then ...
Before you start, here are some base definitions:
- A label is a collective mark identified by a distinctive sign (logo, name ...) that can be used by different brands conforming to a precise specification.
- An "Ecolabel" is an official label issued to products corresponding to type "I" of the ISO14024 standard (a product which has legitimate environmental benefits).
- A certification is a procedure by which an independent organization certifies that a product conforms to the requirements specified in a standard or a repository. Certification usually leads to the authorization to use a label or an Ecolabel.
Labels related to the origin of paper, fibres or wood:
Created in 1999 at the initiative of several European forest owners, the PEFC certification guarantees certain criteria: traceability of timber, verification of its legality and especially from sustainably managed forests.
This label is the most widely used internationally, and especially in Europe with more than 52 million hectares of certified forests.
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label was created in 1993 thanks to the initiative of a group of non-governmental organizations gathered in Rio, Brazil. Initially intended for the preservation of tropical forests, its specifications, quite comprehensive in fact, included 10 environmental and social principles that guaranteed a sustainable management of forest resources.
This label has three levels:
- "FSC 100%" meaning that the entire production comes from FSC certified forests,
- "FSC 100% Recycled" indicating that the product is made from recycled materials (of which at least 85% comes from post-consumer),
- "FSC 100% Mixed" for a product combining certified wood fibres and recycled fibres.
In the opinion of many environmental protection associations, the FSC label made it possible to securely identify a logging operation that was actually managed sustainably.
The APUR (Association of Producers and Users of Recycled Papers) label was created in 1992 to promote the use of recycled paper in France, and now Europe-wide. Available in 3 levels (60%, 80% or 100%), it indicates clearly and effectively the proportion of recycled fibres in your paper.
Among the oldest (1977) and perhaps one of the most interesting, the Blue Angel (Blauer Engel) is a German eco-label that guarantees that paper is 100% made from recycled fibres.
Beyond the origin of the fibres it is also a guarantee on the paper bleaching process. The use of hazardous substances must be limited during its production; including the prohibition of lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium pigments. This label is also awarded to different types of consumer goods.
Labels related to printing:
Since 1991, the "NF Environmental Certification" mark has been awarded to wood products that have a reduced ecological footprint compared to similar conventional products. A reduced ecological impact means that the entire life cycle of the product is taken into account:
The design and materials chosen are thus energy-saving and guaranteed to be free of harmful substances. Of course, the guarantees are based upon production processes, but there are fewer constraints on sustainable forest management.
The IMPRIM'VERT standard (available to all printing activities) makes it possible to identify printers who make environmental efforts, particularly with regard to the proper management of hazardous waste, the safe storage of hazardous liquids and the non-use of hazardous waste. This approach, limited to the printing process, remains in the end only a guarantee of compliance with the legislation in force. To date, this eco-brand covers 80% of the paper printed in France.
The logo that leaves me sceptical ...
The Moebius Loop is a self-declaring type II (ISO 14021) environmental statement. That is to say that this logo is affixed to the full responsibility of the company, without any control of a third body. If it contains a number inside, it indicates the proportion of recycled material. If on the other hand, no figure is indicated, it means that the material is potentially recyclable.
Ecological Printing - Vegetable Based Inks
As an alternative to traditional offset inks, known as "mineral-based", vegetable inks are becoming increasingly popular for printers seeking a sustainable development approach.
Impact of mineral inks on the environment:
There are four main factors to consider when considering the impact of inks on the environment and human health:
- Pigments containing heavy metals such as barium, copper and zinc,
- Highly volatile petroleum-based solvents used as binders or accelerators for drying,
- Colourless additives used to increase gloss, fluidity and increase resistance,
- Waste generated by the manufacture and use of inks, complex to treat.
What are vegetable inks?
Inks consisting of several components, with different percentages depending on the ink (vegetable or mineral):
- A colouring matter composed of vegetation-based pigments;
- A medium that will allow the placement of the ink onto the desired paper source;
- Vegetation-based additives used to improve characteristics of the ink before and after printing.
The difference with vegetable ink is at the level of the medium, which makes up 70% of the ink in general. We talk about offset inks when the inks do not contain mineral oils as diluents, but only vegetable oils (Chinese wood oil, soybean oil, linseed oil ....). Pigments and driers (with coelators) although biodegradable remain non-renewable synthetic products, that's why no ink is 100% vegetable.
Beyond the environmental impact of product composition, vegetable inks have many advantages for the printer:
- A better transference, bringing more intense colours and allowing a reduction of the consumption
- A more stable water to ink ratio for printing at high speed
An improved environmental management process - resulting in the reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds and easier recycling of printed materials.