The United Nations has designated today (Wednesday 5 June) as World Environment Day. As Europe’s leading live events company, hosting 1000s of events across our venues each year, the NEC Group makes a massive contribution to our local environment every single day and has been working hard to improve their sustainability footprint, working with their arenas, exhibitions and events partners and customers.
The NEC Group has been looking at everything from food miles, energy and waste, to how they support the local community around the West Midlands. In the early years of the NEC more than 40 years ago, the NEC would have been a contributor to air pollution, increased landfill and food waste – with a massive 95% of their waste going to landfill. However, in the past 10 years the now much larger NEC Group has become a trailblazing organisation for sustainable working, sending zero waste to landfill.
All waste from NEC Group venues is separated to be recycled, and any waste that cannot be recycled is converted to energy at local power plants – meaning they have a regular recycle rate of 82%. The Group has a fleet of waste vehicles based on site, so no unnecessary travelling takes place. They have created a policy that waste should not travel more than 30 miles from their venues, which also minimises carbon emissions and supports local businesses. All glass waste is taken to a processor in 18 miles away in Walsall, metal waste is collected and transported to a processor just five miles from the NEC campus, wooden pallets from exhibitions are collected and taken to a local company just two junctions away up the M42 motorway.
The Group’s award-winning caterers, Amadeus, ensure sustainable solutions for all customers buying food and drink in their venues. 98% of Amadeus’s disposable packaging spend is on sustainable products – be that recyclable, biodegradable or compostable. The food and beverage offering in NEC Group venues supports local communities too, 80% of suppliers can be found within a 25-30 mile radius, and 60% of these are small and medium sized businesses. All food waste from the NEC is separated on site and taken four miles away to the Severn Trent Anaerobic Digestion Plant to be converter to fertilisers for the local land.
This month, NEC Group staff were given reusable drinks bottles to use at new hydration stations around our offices to help everyone become even more environmentally friendly. With local partners at Birmingham Airport, Birmingham Business Park and Resorts World, the Group have also created the ‘Birmingham Green Hub Liftshare’ scheme to ease traffic and parking congestion, promote sustainable travel and reduce single occupancy car journeys.
Kathryn James, Managing Director, NEC Group Conventions & Exhibitions said “We’re extremely proud of our environmental footprint but we’re striving for more improvements. We’ve recently installed smart meters at the ICC and NEC and replaced ever bulb in our exhibition halls to LEDs. We’re changing all our air conditioning to lower energy units and the water saving devices we’ve installed in our gents’ toilets are set to save 1 million litres of water this year!
“We’ve created a proactive culture of sustainable working within our business. Our staff want to make a difference not only to the NEC Group but to our local community. Our teams have utilised waste materials to create a sensory garden in Chelmsley Wood, a quiet garden for a Midlands hospice and created a community ‘Wellies to Bellies’ garden project. We’ve come a long way since the early years of the NEC in 1976 – sustainability is now firmly at the top of our agenda!”