Efforts to improve sustainability have always been prevalent at MICE over the years, but this year’s expo aims to be the most environmentally conscious edition to date.
“We want all visitors and exhibitors to know that we’ve put our best efforts into making MICE2023 the most sustainable event to date. We have a lot to celebrate this year, and it includes the number of sustainability partners and initiatives we have taking place throughout the show,” says MICE Show Director Lauren Winterbottom.
“We know sustainability is front of mind for most people, and we want that to extend to the experience they have at MICE, from waste collection and recycling to repurposing of materials.”
To help with sustainability efforts this year’s MICE will have one major change from previous editions.
“We’re not producing showbags this year,” says Lauren. “It’s small decisions like this that result in less resources being used for a single-use item.”
Host venue, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), says in the past, monitoring the sustainability efforts of visitors has been challenging, with many people confused when it comes to separating their recycling from general waste.
To avoid any doubt, ask an on-site MCEC team member if unsure which bin any waste item should enter.
“We encourage people to throw coffee cups to the commingled recycling bin where our staff will be sorting through it back of house,” says IKON Waste and Environmental Services Manager Yasmin Assis.
“Once these events are over, our staff are trained on how to properly sort recycling. It’s a constant ongoing commitment.”
MCEC Sustainability Manager Sam Ferrier says the success of this year’s sustainability efforts at MICE require the support of staff and those in attendance.
“As a collective, we’re all working towards removing problematic materials and reducing our carbon footprint,” says Sam.
Leftover furniture, stands and staging at the end of expos is another common issue that’s difficult to recycle.
“[Furniture] that can be hired and reused is our preference,” says Sam. “Furniture has the potential to be quite a significant contribution to landfill if it’s not managed properly.
To avoid landfill altogether, social enterprise Co-Ground will be on hand to reuse and convert appropriate stands into social enterprise coffee carts, and office-based hospitality setups.
“The aim with MICE this year is to create some assets that can further our social impact efforts through hospitality,” says Co-Ground Co-Founder and Managing Director Andrew Mellody.
“We are big believers in using business for good, and social enterprise is one key way to engrain social impact in businesses.”
Andrew says the Co-Ground team is looking forward to engaging with MICE participants to assist them with their large-scale recycling efforts.
“Waste is a massive problem in the coffee industry, and it’s a problem that we all need to solve,” he says. Across the board, social responsibility and sustainability is more important than ever.”
“We are excited about working together with exhibitors to turn unwanted stands into coffee carts that can fund education, water access and Indigenous employment programs. These materials can have an ongoing social impact for years to come.”
Another contributor to this year’s sustainable efforts is OzHarvest, a food rescue organisation that will be on site to collect any remaining milk or food products. A collection point will be available at the end of the show for all the leftovers. All types of quality surplus food are welcomed, as long as it’s within its use- by date and is food safe.
“OzHarvest is very excited to be teaming up with MICE this year,” says OzHarvest Victoria and South Australia Engagement Manager Alana Roberts. “The MCEC is an awesome partner of OzHarvest and regularly arranges the donation of surplus food from expos such as MICE.
Alana adds that every meal collected from MICE will be diverted from landfill.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to rescue all surplus food and coffee from the event and deliver it to charities that feed people in need,” she says.
Social enterprise Reground will return to MICE to collect discarded coffee and chaff waste product and give it a second life.
Reground is planning a collections hub for attendees to dispose of their waste through correct channels. They will also have staff members roaming the venue with collection bins. “We need to be extremely efficient in the way we collect coffee so we can get as much as possible,” says Reground Communications Manager Fiona Parsons.
This year, Fiona says Reground is conscious of making collection bins more identifiable for attendees.
“We have a huge opportunity to improve on the collection side this year, so we can collect much more coffee in a cleaner and more efficient way,” she says.
Another priority for Reground is talking with exhibitors about ways they can enhance their sustainability efforts.
“Rather than just collecting the waste, we’re going to also start having conversations,” says Fiona.
“It’s a massive opportunity to be there in-person and speak to exhibitors.”
Fiona says conversations with café owners is also crucial to improving their individual recycling practices.
“A lot of cafés and business owners make the same mistakes we do at home, as we all have a tendency to do what’s easy and what’s familiar,” she says.
With a number of new sustainability efforts in place for MICE2023, MICE Show Director Lauren says the event is in the best place to have a reduced environmental impact.
“It’s nice that the coffee industry is so forward thinking about sustainability and trying to drive a lot of these solutions themselves,” Lauren says.
She adds that the sustainability efforts of MICE will be a group effort, not only from the individuals attending but the team of organisations working together to reduce waste.
“Partnering with these groups has been really beneficial,” Lauren says. “Knowing that the waste will be sorted, and that leftover food and materials can be repurposed, is reassuring. The coffee industry celebrates each stage of the supply chain, and we want to make sure it doesn’t end at MICE. We want there to be an infinite cycle of usage, not waste.
“It’s really exciting to be at the forefront of these new features.”
This article appears in the MICE Showguide 2023. View the Showguide HERE.