This is the word from RX Africa CEO Carol Weaving, who notes that changes have been measurably impactful, but that there will always be more to be done. “We began by looking at each event we create or participate in, and how we could minimise its impact on the planet. “Events such as Africa Travel Week went paperless, and digital catalogues replaced print. Lanyards are made from recycled plastic and the badge holders are no longer plastic but are rather made out of seed paper that can be planted. Further to this, our exhibitors are encouraged to join in our efforts by building stands that can be used across multiple events and out of upcycled materials wherever possible.”
With Zero Waste day being just twelve months away, Weaving says, “It’s heartening to see overall awareness of sustainable practices among event attendees, participants and our own RX colleagues who active seek solutions.”
According to Weaving, this includes:
“The 2022 Event Greening Forum highlighted the fact that a typical conference attendee produces 1.89kg of waste each day, of which 1.16kg will end up in a landfill. To mitigate this, RX Africa created a waste reduction policy that continually reviews and fine-tunes initiatives to implement solutions wherever possible,” says Weaving.
“We ensure that recycling bins are available at conference centres, in our offices and encouraged in our homes. Importantly, we partners with venues that meet exacting standards of waste reduction, reduced carbon footprint and water saving.”
In terms of water usage specifically, RX Africa assesses all suppliers to ensure they align with our sustainability goals. “As our venue partner of choice in the region, the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) has consistently raised the bar for water usage,” she says. “Over the last few years, the CTICC has reduced its water consumption year-on-year. Rainwater tanks now capture and store up to 265 000 litres of rainwater. This, combined with 20 000 litres of condensation saved from the air-conditioning units and all grey water from the complex is captured and used for cleaning and gardening.”
The savings don’t stop there. In response to the massive drought between 2015 and 2017 in Cape Town, the CTICC installed waterless hand sanitisers and turned off water to hand basins in bathrooms. Toilet cistern water-holding capacity was reduced by 20% in all ablution facilities, and butterfly shutdown valves were installed to lower the water supply to cooling towers by 20%.
“These efforts were impressive,” Weaving notes, “and water leaks are continue to be treated as emergencies. RX Africa worked closely with the CTICC to ensure clear and comprehensive communication around the water issue with all stakeholders from exhibitors at the show to visitors and speakers. “Messaging around the water crisis was prompt and regular in order to educate everyone on the importance of preserving water. Onsite signage was vital to bringing the message home.”
It is this type of collaboration in both messaging and action that Weaving believes will enable RX Africa to meet its 2024 waste reduction effort. “Waste reduction and proper disposal, water savings and upcycling or recycling are no longer ‘nice to haves’ in our industry and company. They are part of a business imperative and strategy with sustainability at its core. Where we can collaborate, we do. We owe it to our planet and her people.”