Meet the Australian event industry leaders championing sustainability

Australia’s business events industry is making notable progress in sustainability. In this article, we dive into the efforts and strategies of various sustainability champions. Through their insights and experiences, we uncover practical strategies and ideas for businesses of all sizes looking to make a positive impact on the environment, culture and society.

ARINEX: Australia’s first carbon neutral event management company.

Nicole Walker, managing director:

What motivated Arinex to become Australia’s first carbon neutral event management company?

I wanted Arinex to become a carbon neutral company because we believe in the crucial role that events play in bringing people together and driving progress. We also understand the significant environmental impact that events can have, and I felt a strong responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint. By taking tangible steps to offset our emissions and encourage sustainability, we aim to encourage fellow event professionals to do the same and prioritise sustainability in our industry.

What role does Arinex play in improving event sustainability?

As a carbon neutral certified event management company, we lead in promoting sustainability in the events we manage. We aim to empower our clients to adopt sustainable solutions, minimise waste, encourage sustainable transportation and source sustainable products and services. Furthermore, we are equipped to guide and educate our clients through the process of achieving carbon neutral certification for their events as all our activities are already offset through our own certification.

What advice would you offer to organisations seeking to adopt sustainable practices and reduce event carbon footprint?

My advice is to begin with small steps and gradually increase your efforts. Partnering with service providers, suppliers and venues that prioritise sustainability can be a valuable step in implementing greener practices. It’s crucial to establish achievable goals, regularly track your progress and continuously evaluate and enhance your sustainability efforts for maximum impact.

BANGARRA DANCE THEATREPerformance-based approach to cultural sustainability.
Frances Rings, artistic director:

How is Bangarra Dance Theatre promoting the sustainability and continuation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures?

Bangarra is a performing company that creates works of dance, theatre and music – the preservation and protection of Indigenous culture is at the core of what we do. All performers are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background and tell the stories of their Elders, promoting awareness and understanding of our cultures. Bangarra’s efforts extend beyond stage performances to programmes that foster emerging talent and youth programmes that connect Indigenous school children with their heritage. As a Cultural Foundation, Bangarra takes responsibility for setting up a bright future for Indigenous talent and emerging leaders. Our work is critical in ensuring the stories of Indigenous Australia are passed on to future generations.

How does Bangarra Dance Theatre’s approach to storytelling and performance celebrate First Nations culture?

Bangarra’s stage works are deeply rooted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture, people and communities. Developed over years of cultural exchange, community engagement, research and permission-seeking from Elders and custodians, these works honour the communities that entrust Bangarra with their language, stories, songs and dances. After touring across Australia, the works are returned to be performed on Country, in thanks and acknowledgement. This practice ensures that our community relationships, developed over many years, continue to inform the integrity of our work.

How does community engagement support Bangarra Dance Theatre’s efforts to promote cultural sustainability?

Bangarra has delighted audiences worldwide through international tours and stage performances throughout Australia. Even those who don’t speak English can enjoy a mind-blowing 60-minute experience of Indigenous Australia at the Sydney Opera House, situated on Gadigal Country at Bennelong Point. It’s a beautiful exchange as visiting audiences want to leave with a greater understanding of the place and its people, and Indigenous culture is at the heart of what Australia is about.

Bangarra’s award-winning Terrain performed at the Sydney Opera House. Photo credit: Daniel Boud.

COLEMAN GROUPEvent and exhibition signage with a circular economy approach.
Rod Peter, managing director:

What initiatives has Coleman Group implemented to reuse, repurpose, and recycle?

As a sustainability leader in the event, exhibition and signage industry, we were the first company to sign the Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) Sustainable Events 2030 Pledge and have a fully recyclable fabric process. Waste fabric is sent to BlockTexx, a Resource Recovery Facility, for conversion into high-value raw materials. Polyester textiles become PET pellets for use in manufacturing, and cellulose used for hydro-mulch or fertiliser. We offer frame rental and fabric storage to promote reuse and prevent waste. All aluminium offcuts, cardboard, and paper waste are recycled for a closed-loop system.

How does Coleman Group measure and report on its sustainability impact?

We stay on top of our numbers through several important reporting systems. BlockTexx tracks the amount of fabric we recycle with them every year, and Coleman Group performs monthly stocktakes and stock reports to track how much aluminium is being reused. We also have a live inventory system that traces how much recycled material we are using. Finally, Coleman Group has installed solar panels over our warehouse, and we have a live dashboard that logs the energy we produce and save by using solar instead of grid electricity.

What role do sustainable practices play in Coleman Group’s overall business strategy?

For years, sustainable practices have been a top priority of ours and we’ve instilled a culture of sustainability throughout our operations. Coleman Group is ensuring we are creating a fully sustainable circular economy from the printing, products and packaging materials we use to limiting the number of trucks needed to transport installations. We reuse, repurpose, and recycle throughout the print process, opting for cleaner materials such as water-based inks and recycled fabrics. As a leader in the event and exhibition industry, we promote sustainability by using innovative and eco-friendly materials like locally produced and 100% recyclable eco-board. We remain committed to upholding high standards and adopting new strategies to stay ahead of the game.

Coleman Group sends waste fabric for conversion to high-value raw materials.

CRYSTALBROOKE COLLECTIONLuxurious accommodation with a conscience.

Geoff York, CEO:

How does Crystalbrook Collection’s #ResponsibleLuxury reflect the desired visitor experience at its hotels?

Responsible Luxury sits at the heart of Crystalbrook Collection – Australia’s largest independent sustainability-led five-star hospitality group – as we aspire to protect the environment and create sustainable experiences that enhance, rather than comprise the guest experience. We enjoy modern living through attitude, design, technology and a passion for a better world. Some examples of how this philosophy reflects our guest experience include: plastic-free amenities; 100% recycled wooden key cards, paperless tech and mobile check-ins; and 80% of all produce used in our restaurants comes from within a three-hour drive, forming part of our Climate Calories initiative. We are also proud to be the first hospitality-led group to achieve 100% waste-free bathrooms, while still offering a five-star experience, naturally.

What is a recent sustainability initiative implemented by Crystalbrook Collection, and how has it been received?

In 2022 Crystalbrook Collection embarked on a journey across its 14 restaurants and bars that involved labelling all menu items with Climate Calorie information to enable diners to enjoy their meal, comfortable that they are mitigating their environmental impact. Through Climate Calories, diners will immediately seewhether the ingredients in their dish are locally sourced, sustainably grown or caught, have an indigenous connection, consciously reduce waste and were delivered to the restaurant in eco-friendly packaging.  Through this initiative, our customers feel empowered that they’re making a good environmental choice while connecting with the location and the community.

How does Crystalbrook Collection manage waste and water/energy consumption?

Crystalbrook Collection has partnered with EarthCheck, the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification, and advisory group, to help create a more sustainable tourism industry. Through this partnership we work to cut down greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, reduce waste, and enhance ecosystem conversation. Through EarthCheck we track waste management and water/energy consumption, and this is then certified, assessed and validated by the organisation which includes yearly on-site assessment and benchmarking within Australasia.

Crystalbrook Collection rooms feature glass water bottles and refill taps.

RADISH EVENTSAustralia’s first BCorp certified caterer, on a mission to zero waste to landfill and 100% carbon neutral.

Henrique Marcello Turra, managing director:

What measures does Radish take to ethically and sustainably source ingredients?

At Radish we source our ingredients as ethically and sustainably as possible through a strict Supplier Procurement Guide. The guide categorises suppliers based on meat, fish, veggies, dry goods, packaging, etc. We work with three meat suppliers – Feather and Bone ProvidoreShiralee Organic Meats, and Two Hands, who source their meat from sustainable, ethical farms. We have also made a formal commitment via the GoodFish Sustainable Seafood Guide to not serve red-listed seafood and source traceable, sustainable fish with the help of Two Hands – who uses a blockchain technology to guarantee provenance. We prioritise seasonal and local veggies to reduce transport-related carbon emissions and source dry goods through Community Cupboard, which uses a refillable ‘bulk-buy’ format with no packaging waste.

How does Radish incorporate sustainable practices and minimise food waste in event catering?

We take a few steps to minimise food waste. First, we work with clients to determine the best format, menu and quantities for their event. Then, our menus are designed to produce as little food waste as possible, utilising all parts of ingredients such as our ‘heads and collars’ fish croquette or our upcycled herb chimichurri. After this, any remaining food waste is sent to a composting facility, and we provide green bins at events we cater for to ensure proper disposal.

What are Radish’s sustainability goals for ethical catering in 2023?

Our main sustainability goal for 2023 is to promote a zero-waste mindset in our kitchen while supporting our ethical farmers. We have just introduced a ‘tongue to tail’ approach to serving animal proteins at all sit-down format events. This means that our pasture-raised beef dish will include several cuts of the animal, cooked using specific techniques, to showcase the delicious potential of lesser-known cuts. We are thrilled to move in this direction as it will highlight the excellent work of our local partners and suppliers.

Radish Events has a zero-waste mindset and supports local farmers. Photo credit – Lucy Leonardi