News & Blog

Don’t let the value of our major events go to waste

Written by: Alison McRae, Senior Director of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

In Glasgow, we are lucky enough to have outstanding venues and spaces that give us capacity to host massive, global standard events.

In 2017 alone, more than three million attendees were recorded at high profile events within the city, from festivals and concerts to football matches and conferences.

Reinforcing this was the city’s recent win at the Meeting & Incentive Travel (M&IT) awards, crowning Glasgow at the UK’s Best Convention Bureau for the twelfth year in a row.

We of course had the Commonwealth Games back in 2014 and will co-host the 2018 European Championships with Berlin later this year.

The city will also welcome over 130,000 conference delegates to events such as the Circular Hotspot Conference Scotland in October, along with numerous festivals, sporting events and concerts taking place in the heart of the city.

The economic and social impact that comes with these events is substantive for Glasgow, reaping in the benefits that come with the influx of visitors.

But it’s what happens after the events that is often overlooked yet worthy of consideration. It has been said that on average, festival visitors each produce more than one kilogram of waste per day. Marry this with the number of events taking place in Glasgow and the amount of wear and tear on our local areas begins to surge.

Consider the amount of materials used to create an event, for example the number of single-use, disposable food containers found at music festivals, or the excess rolls of carpet used for a conference. The majority of this will end up in landfill.

However, if SMEs were to inject a circular approach up front to current business models and create a more sustainable solution to combat these issues, a real opportunity becomes available to collaborate with events within the city and beyond.

Imagine a carpet supplier that decided to not only supply to large conferences, but collected and recycled material to give it a new life post event, saving money from input and making profit through collaboration.

Did you know that 72% of plastic won’t ever be recovered? But what if companies begin to recover the plastic used at events and rebirth the material to give it another use?

If food containers were made from a recycled product with the intent of a further lifespan after the event, wouldn’t this be the go-to product for festivals and concerts?

The impact of these types of forward-thinking ideas would look to future proof our city, building on its resilience for years to come.

Circular Glasgow, an initiative of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, has recently launched a Circle Lab challenge that asks individuals and businesses from Glasgow and across the world to generate these types of ideas, with the winning concepts becoming a reality for our city – ones that other cities can learn from in the spirit of open source solutions.

There are numerous aspects to any event that result in waste of material that could be given a new life, with great prospects for businesses, and the opportunity to extend the legacy of the event.

It’s when we start to have these conversations that we begin to explore innovative ways to change the way we think about doing business, and the way we shape these events both operationally and experientially.

We are absolutely focused on mass events continuing to come to our city.

The opportunity to adapt lies within how we play host, including all of the diverse supply chain of businesses involved in making the event a reality.

Let’s take steps towards achieving this, and make our city one that is even more innovative, resilient and collaborative.

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