Working hard to create a sustainable event

When we set out our intentions for MEET South West one of the main areas of focus was to try and make the show as sustainable as possible. Throughout the months of planning this has remained at the fore when making decisions and partnering with companies.

We want to share the sustainability love with our visitors as well so we purposely invited Sam Rowe, CEO of Ignition, an experience, exhibition and events agency based in Bristol, that deliver events all over the globe, to talk about this very subject from an event planner’s perspective.

Sam and her company are champions of sustainability and Ignition was the first company in its sector to receive ISO 2012-1 accreditation for Sustainable Event Management, in addition to gaining both ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 for Environmental and Quality Management.

A sustainable state of mind will cover tips, ideas and trends from the macro to the micro, from creating sustainable policies for events, demanding more of venues and buildings and eradicating waste in everything from ticketing and badging to food and drink provision. Finally, ideas for how to make everyone involved into a champion of sustainability too, helping everyone raise benchmark standards.

We The Curious is passionate about sustainability which reinforced our view that they were the perfect venue partner for us. We The Curious is focusing on six main areas of sustainability – Energy, Water, Procurement, Waste, Nature and Transport. They have an ongoing ‘3 x 6 campaign’ in which they continuously address three issues within each sustainability area. Whenever a project is completed, it is replaced with a new one thereby constantly looking to develop and improve.

We The Curious’ catering partner, Elior, are also fully committed to the 3 x 6 campaign and recycle their packaging and dispose of their food waste in line with venue policy and guidelines.

Some key successes they have had include:


  • 294 solar panels on the roof
  • Innovative sustainable building systems: phase change tank for heating & cooling; car park smart fans.
  • Use ‘off-peak’ electricity
  • LED lighting across site
  • 27% energy reduction since 2011


  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Waterless toilets & flush reduction
  • Green roof


  • Buying from companies who meet our sustainable criteria – encouraging change through economics
  • No single use plastic
  • Palm oil audit and behaviour change program with Bristol Zoo


  • Cardboard baling
  • Segregation & Recycling


  • Green roof
  • Urban beehive & pollinator hotels
  • Urban allotments


  • Electric charging points in car park
  • Cycling facilities & parking points across site

It can’t go unremarked that as a city centre location, and the notorious Bristol traffic, we will be encouraging exhibitors and delegates alike to walk or take public transport. GWR are one of our travel partners and they are providing discounted rail tickets for anyone attending business events in the region. They are also providing free transport for those attending our familiarisation trip which MEET South West is holding in partnership with Meet Bristol and Visit Bath. We The Curious is a short trot from Bristol Temple Meads or you can get a bus from there to the centre.

Colour Studios are providing us with the branding collateral that we need to make an impact at the show. Rather than producing the MEET South West backdrops and and branding on standard pull-up stands, Colour Studios will be producing them on their 100% recyclable cardboard – reusable and ‘end of life’ recyclable, meaning they can be used for months, even years and recycle at the end of their useful life – so both the environment and we win!

For exhibitors who are looking to refresh their branding for the show, Colour Studios are kindly offering a special package to switch to their recyclable cardboard displays.

As a company, Colour Studios are committed to ensuring that their operations always consider the possible impact on the environment thus environmental issues are considered through the use of their resources, energy and disposal of waste. Colour Studios is committed to the proper monitoring of waste, the reduction of pollution, compliance with legislation and relevant training of staff and they maintain a policy of actively reviewing their operational methods and ways of saving waste to improve environmental conditions.

Sure Shot Coffee, who are providing one free coffee to visitors, are fully committed to their green credentials. The coffee that they source is direct trade, all their cups are compostable and they discourage the use of lids (although if you do need one, they are recyclable). Sure Shot even bring their own bin to make sure nothing goes into landfill rather than the composter.

For the stage backdrops we are working with Evans AV and Staging. By using existing stock walling and fully recyclable graphic wraps we are ensuring our messages are loud and our conscious is clear. Any other signage will be digital or printed on a recyclable substrate. No foam board here!

So that’s the partners and programme so what else are MEET South West doing?

The show guide will be printed, by Minuteman Press, on recycled stock from carbon captured paper and is recyclable – as while we are sure that visitors will make excellent use of the guide during and after the show, please ensure you recycle it when you are finished with it.

Goody bags are the mainstay of exhibitions but we have decided to do away with the goody and the bags! If you want some swag you’ll need to go and talk to the exhibitors – as well as getting some fun stuff you make a potentially-valuable business connection as well!

Our delegate management system is managed via Event Reference and we will be utilising their technology to do badge printing on demand. This means that we don’t waste materials printing all badges in advance. Everyone attending the show – delegates, exhibitors and speakers – zaps their barcode, included on their confirmation email, at the registration desk on arrival and out pops their name badge.

In conjunction with print on demand, we are also not printing or providing lanyards, or as we like to call it ‘BYOL’ AKA Bring Your Own Lanyard! As event professionals I’m sure we all have a load hanging around the office or at home, so why print any more? Instead we are asking visitors to bring their own. Pick one from an event you loved, or perhaps one with a story attached. It’s a conversation starter, helps you stand out, and helps reduce the event carbon footprint to a minimum! So remember #BYOL.

We continue to work hard to make this event as sustainable as we can and are really grateful for the commitment our partners, exhibitors and suppliers have shown to support us in this important objective.