Meeting Mentor Magazine

May 2024

IMEX Group Offers Sustainability Benchmarks

In an effort to both improve its own events’ sustainability and to provide examples of what it’s doing to green its meetings, the IMEX Group has released its second sustainability benchmarking white paper.

The IMEX Group has made sustainability a key priority for its events, IMEX Frankfurt, held in Frankfurt, Germany, each spring, and IMEX America, held in Las Vegas in the fall. The company, which signed the Net-Zero Carbon Events (NZCE) pledge and has committed to getting to net-zero by 2030 — two decades before the NZCE’s target goal of 2050.

The event organizer last month released a 23-page white paper, produced in conjunction with sustainability consultants Meet Green, outlining the results of its efforts at the 2023 Frankfurt event. This is the second year the IMEX Group reported on its sustainability efforts at the Frankfurt show, with the aim of both making its sustainability efforts transparent and providing ideas others can adopt for their own meetings and events.

The white paper focuses on what IMEX Group has done in the following areas to make its event more sustainable:

• Destination and venue choices: Saying destination and site selection as playing two of the most significant roles towards helping manage and mitigate the show’s environmental impacts, the group credits the show venue, Messe Frankfurt, the city of Frankfurt and its host hotels for providing some of the heavy lifting. For example, the Frankfurt Marriott Hotel, which hosted the Association Focus reception and hosted buyer and attendee accommodations, is powered by 42% renewable energy, a portion of which is generated onsite via solar panels.

• Waste management: Last year, IMEX Frankfurt diverted 86% of all event waste, preincineration, into material recycling, organics and donations channels, with the remainder generating energy through incineration.

• Food and beverage: Attendees could refill water bottles at plumbed water stations throughout Messe Frankfurt, and all the to-go hot cups had compostable paper lids. Catering also sourced much of its produce and dairy from local producers.

• Energy and water: Even though attendance jumped 26% in 2023, water consumption only increased by 1%. Exhibitors also used 12% less electricity, even though their numbers increased by 22%.

• Ground transportation: IMEX Frankfurt used four fully electric buses, saving an estimated 103kg CO2e. They also planted 1,000 trees to mitigate the emissions from the fossil fuel-powered transport.

• Gala dinner: Held at the Atle Oper, which sources 30% of its energy from renewable sources, the gala dinner meals — which were made using locally sourced ingredients — were served on reusable dinnerware. Almost a third opted to partake of the low-carbon vegetarian option.

• Environmental design and exhibitor engagement: For the first time, IMEX left the Galleria between its exhibition space and the learning area uncarpeted, reducing its carpet use by 909 square meters. They also reduced print production in the expo hall by 85% over the previous year. They also decreased “build & burn” use booths by 38% over 2019 levels.

• Material donations: The company is dedicated to donating leftover materials it can’t reuse, which in 2023 included more than 1,700 pounds of exhibit hall turf to Naturgarten e.V.; about 265 pounds of floral arrangements to the venue’s staff and ShoutOutLoud; and about 88 pounds of blankets, t-shirts and office supplies to Frankfurt Bahnhofsmission.

• Education and community impact: The IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum drew 58 students to participate, while 61 attendees participated in the IMEX Frankfurt People & Planet Pledge. The white paper also is intended to help educate others in the industry on some of the things they can do to reduce their events’ carbon footprints.

• Equity and well-being: The event organizer ensured it had a good balance of speakers, which last year were 58% female and 42% male. It also provided Be Well Lounge sessions and the IMEXrun, both of which drew more than 200 people.

Read the full report here.

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