The United Nations has designated today, Wednesday 5 June, as World Environment Day. At the NEC Group we proudly recognise our contribution to our local environment every single day. As Europe’s leading live events company, hosting 1000s of events across our venues each year, improving our sustainability footprint is high on the agenda for us, our customers and partners.
We’ve challenged ourselves to look at everything from food miles, energy and waste, to how we support the local community around us. In the early years of the NEC more than 40 years ago, we would have been contributors to air pollution, increased landfill and food waste – with a massive 95% of our waste going to landfill. However, in the past 10 years we’ve become trailblazers for sustainable working and we now send zero waste to landfill.
All of our waste is separated to be recycled, and any waste that cannot be recycled is converted to energy at local power plants – meaning we have a regular recycle rate of 82%. We have a fleet of waste vehicles based on site, so no unnecessary travelling takes place. Our policy is that waste should not travel more than 30 miles from our venues, which also minimises carbon emissions and supports local businesses. Our glass waste is taken to a processor 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 two junctions away from up the M42.
Our award-winning caterers, Amadeus, ensure sustainable solutions for all customers buying food and drink in our venues. 98% of Amadeus’s disposable packaging spend is on sustainable products – be that recyclable, biodegradable or compostable. Our food and beverage offering supports local communities too, 80% of our suppliers can be found within a 25-30 mile radius, and 60% of these are small and medium sized businesses. All food waste 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, all our staff were given reusable drinks bottles to use at new hydration stations around our offices to help us become even more environmentally friendly. With our local partners at Birmingham Airport, Birmingham Business Park and Resorts World we have also come together to create 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.”