In partnership with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), Portland, Ore.-based event management company MeetGreen—formerly Meeting Strategies Worldwide—has unveiled a new program with which to promote green meetings and events.
Introduced last week, the program uses so-called "Eco-Event Zones" to encourage ongoing, long-term sustainability initiatives among meeting planners and the cities that host them. It works by encouraging planners who are hosting meetings in the same city—the same "zone"—to collaborate on finding and creating green meetings opportunities in their host destinations, and to work together in order to understand the cumulative impact they can have by greening their pre- and post-event processes.
"Too often we see meetings as a singular event, rather than a transformative process," MeetGreen's Shawna McKinley said in a statement. "This initiative shows meetings are about much more than a few days sharing in education or networking. Conferences and events are multi-month or multi-year processes that can positively transform the cities where we meet and change how we look at an event footprint if we work together with our stakeholders."
MPI and UUA, both of which are hosting large meetings in Salt Lake City this summer, are among the first groups to build an Eco-Event Zone partnership.
"We were thrilled to find the convention center recycled, had switched to compostable disposables and was providing limited prep-food composting," UUA's Director of General Assembly & Conference Services Janiece Sneegas, Ph.D., said of Salt Lake City's Salt Palace Convention Center. "Unfortunately, however, the city didn't have infrastructure to compost meat, oil or disposables, which accounts for about 15-20 percent of our waste. We wanted to find a way to advocate for this, but were one voice and one event."
To amplify its voice, UUA partnered with MPI and MeetGreen, which joined it in advocating for a commercial composting service in Salt Lake City that can be accessed by the meeting and hospitality industry.
"We appreciate the initiative of MeetGreen, the UUA and MPI in communicating to our local bodies the economic impact their events have, and the services that are important to them," Salt Lake City Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Scott Beck said in a statement. "Even though these organizations will have come and gone from Salt Lake City by the time commercial composting is implemented, our city departments understand this is a desired service and one that is a decision-making factor for meeting planners when selecting a city. When you consider the direct value of just these two events is estimated at over $20 million, it is easy to see the enormous impact of meetings on our local economy. The addition of commercial composting adds to our existing green meeting package for Salt Lake and increases our marketability to the meetings industry as a whole."
For more information about Eco-Event Zones, visit MeetGreen's Web site at www.meetgreen.com.