The events industry generates a tremendous amount of waste. Historically, there has been very little concern for the environmental and social impacts of convention centers, and industry norms have been established that prove difficult for events professionals to break. The “This is the way we’ve always done it” mentality, combined with different recycling/composting opportunities in various parts of the country, has made it hard for professionals in our line of work to shift the industry in a more sustainable direction.
The Oregon Convention Center is not satisfied with the status quo. We have stepped forward as a model of an alternative way of doing business. Here’s how.
OCC is the only convention center in the country to explicitly call out a formal partnership between client and venue when putting on a sustainable event. We call it our Waste Diversion Policy (WDP), and it is written into the contract so that each stakeholder knows all about the important role they play.
Our Waste Diversion Policy has four main components:
1) We identify certain items that are not allowed into the facility. Examples include foamcore signage and single-use plastic bags commonly distributed at trade show events. Items have been put on this list because they are not recyclable in the Pacific Northwest, but alternatives that meet the same need can be recycled.
2) A second list includes items that are allowed in the facility, but that must be taken away at the completion of the event. The list includes vinyl banners, wood pallets, electronics, and carpet. This list was designed to help clients find opportunities for reuse.
3) The third expectation of the Waste Diversion Policy is that all recyclable materials generated over the course of an event are placed in the appropriate receptacles. Materials currently collected are:
- Cardboard boxes and signs
- Construction debris
- Glass containers
- Kitchen grease
- Plastic film and shrink wrap
- Vinyl tablecloths
- Metal containers
- Scrap metal
- Food scraps (for composting)
- Plants, trees, and other yard debris
4) In many cases, there are items at the end of an event that can be donated to local nonprofit organizations. The OCC asks that coordination take place prior to the conclusion of the event. This will allow plans to be put in place that will allow for donations to get where they can be best utilized.
For more information, please feel free to reach out to either the Sustainability Coordinator or your designated Event Manager.