A guide to organise sustainable events: the programme

May 5, 2016 | Events

Work area: Organisation and management of the event’s programme.

Irrespective of size, events negatively impact the environment in which they occur: elevated consumption of resources in a short period of time (water, energy, food, paper…), waste generation, increases in CO2 emissions due to transport, accommodation, etc. A sustainable event is one that effectively takes all these aspects into account and attempts to minimize them as much as possible to generate the least environmental impact possible in its surroundings. But, in addition, a sustainable event must be capable of leaving behind a positive legacy, both socially and economically, in the hosting community.

Logo_carbon neutral event_APDIn this sense, ACCIONA Producciones y Diseño (APD) is a company that designs, organizes and produces events in a sustainable manner, trying to maximize the reduction of its ecological footprint. Similarly, the aim is to maximize all those impacts or positive results that arise from the events. To do this, APD undertakes the implementation of a series of preventive measures aimed at minimizing the CO2 emissions associated with the organization and celebration of the event.

In this section we would like to share with you a series of recommendations or good sustainable practices that can be applied to the organisation of events and which we will deliver in a series of articles dedicated to each of the work areas of the design, production and celebration of any event.

One of the most important phases to consider when designing a sustainable production plan for an event is the organisation and management of the programme, an area of work that can involve a considerable and disproportionate consumption of materials, such as paper, cardboard and plastic, used to carry out actions related to information, promotion or diffusion. In the 2.0 era these practices are obsolete and there are novel and efficient alternatives available for the organisation of an event. Nevertheless, conscious that there is still a long road to be travelled until we reach “0 paper” events, it is important to consider some of the sustainable measures that can be applied when producing materials of this kind. 

Good sustainable practices

  • Maximum reduction in the quantity of materials used in tasks for communication, diffusion and promotion, thereby reducing the consumption of raw materials, water and energy necessary for their manufacture and transport.
  • Encouraging the re-use of materials for dissemination and promotions in similar future events or other uses.
  • Reduce the use of toxic products in the development of materials for communication, dissemination and promotion.
  • Use recycled materials whenever possible, with approved environmental quality (for example, FSC for paper and cardboard) or that permit re-use (rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones, white boards instead of blocks).
  • Establish policies of printing on both sides of the paper, in black and white and in economy mode to reduce consumption of paper and toner.
  • Selective retrieval of wastes, paying special attention to those that have special treatment like toner and print cartridges or batteries, and those that can be recycled such as paper or cardboard.
  • Facilitate the recording and access of the event’s information through new technologies.
  • Substitute, whenever possible, printed documents for information in electronic format.
  • Substitute sign-boards and other signage for digital screens.
  • Encourage eco-design of materials for communication, dissemination and promotion.
  • Guarantee access to all people of all elements of communication of the event, trying to eliminate any type of sensory barriers that may exclude the handicapped.
  • Promote a culture of respect for diversity and non-discrimination in elements of communication of the event, avoiding the use of sexist language or images.
  • Develop and apply innovative elements in communicating the event, giving an overall positive impact that can be re-applied in similar events.
  • Facilitate the return of accreditations at the end of the event, providing an identification access point at the exit of the event, together with a cord to hold the accreditation for other events.
  • Use a kind of accreditation card that can be re-used and/or recycled, and whose composition not contain any PVC.
  • Carry out planning that adjusts to what is strictly necessary in printing out of materials for dissemination.
  • Take into account the basic recommendations for eco-design in the design of materials such as: avoiding blank sheets of paper and unnecessary margins, not use inks other than what is strictly necessary, not exceed in the grain of the paper and reduce the area covered by ink.
  • Inform all participants in the event (speakers, assistants, suppliers, the media…) of actions for sustainability of the event and make them participate in the practices and measures put in place.

Case study: MOVE by Vodafone, the sustainable city


At the 6th Edition of the Business Mobility Trade Fair (MOVE 2012) a sustainable city was recreated that introduced multiple technological solutions that not only increased productivity and savings but also attempted to reduce the environmental impact generated by their activities.

In line with the objectives established by the client, and following APD’s commitment with sustainability, among the actions introduced special attention was paid to the environmental training and awareness of all suppliers, who received a guide for good practice. Equally, awareness was directed at guests via a series of messages issued during the event as well as being encouraged to use technological solutions to reduce the amount of printing in documents and signage. Finally, at the end of the day a series of collection points at the venue gathered guest credentials for recycling.