Sustainability In Action: Shepard’s Role in Reducing Waste at CL24 

As we gear up for this year’s PCMA Convening Leaders, the anticipation is palpable at Shepard. We’re thrilled to be part of an event that not only brings together the brightest minds in the business events industry, but also champions a cause close to our hearts – sustainability.

At Shepard we recognize the environmental impact challenge shared by all of our industry peers. This year’s theme, “Think Bigger,” reflects PCMA’s dedication to driving strategic change and sustainability leadership within the business events community. What particularly caught our eye is the event’s focus on sustainability-related sessions, waste management planning, and green practices in food and beverage.

As one of the official sponsors of CL24, we’re excited to be doing our part to help steer the industry toward more sustainable practices. We’re teaming up with Fill It Forward to provide reusable water bottles at hydration stations throughout the venue. Through a simple QR code scan, Fill It Forward reusable bottles allow attendees to track and visualize the environmental impact of diverting single-use bottles from landfills and oceans.

Another cool thing about Fill It Forward is that every time someone reuses/scans the code, they contribute to charitable projects focused on water and natural resource conservation, including WaterAid, Digdeep, Second Harvest, and One Tree Planted. It’s an elegant way of affirming we’re part of a larger community that cares, and we’re all in this together. To date, Fill It Forward participants have donated over $1 million to the organization’s trusted charitable partners worldwide.

Fill It Forward promotional materials
Fill It Forward promotional materials

Connecting in Person to Envision a More Sustainable Events Industry

While the travel associated with the industry’s essential in-person meetings is carbon-intensive, CL24 is providing a forum for thoughtful discussions on other ways event professionals can make their events sustainable by design. If you plan on attending, be sure to check out these talks on sustainability:

There is a business case for investing in more sustainable practices, and CL24 aims to provide specific guidance for event professionals hoping to integrate sustainability into their events planning.

Putting Sustainability Commitments into Action

With CL24, PCMA is putting its commitments into action by adopting EIC’s standard for sustainable and socially impactful events, carried out with guidance from Honeycomb Strategies in collaboration with San Diego Convention Center, Sodexo, Heritage, and other vendors. ​ Local sourcing and waste diversion practices are all part of the mix to create a more sustainable event. For those of you who like to get into the details, here’s a breakdown of how PCMA is stepping up its sustainable practices in 2024, as well as a taste of what an EIC-certified event looks like:

  1. Food and Beverage:
    • Locally sourced plant-forward menus, and collaboration with venues and F&B providers for sustainable waste management practices
  2. Reusables (that’s where we come in!):
    • Water refill stations throughout the convention center for easy refill.
    • Elimination of single-use plastic water bottles at vendors; all food and beverage service ware is compostable or reusable.
  3. Waste Management Planning:
    • Determining waste collection infrastructure, signage, communications, food service ware packaging, exhibit hall materials, stakeholder training, downstream disposal verification, and measurement methodologies.
    • Implementation of an additional BOH waste sorting station for maximum waste diversion.
  4. Waste Stations:
    • Clearly labeled waste bin systems (recycle and landfill) throughout the San Diego Convention Center to maximize clean waste streams.
    • Implementation of 100% compostable disposable service ware and front-of-house composting at all food and beverage locations, in partnership with AB Jones Co.
  5. Signage:
  6. Vendor Procurement and Sustainability Guides:
    • Implementation of supply vetting systems and provision of best practices to exhibitors for minimizing the environmental impact of the expo.
  7. Stakeholders/Partners Sustainability Program:
    • Guidance provided to vendors on sustainable operations and policies related to CL24.
    • Early engagement with vendors through pre-event surveys for data gathering and visibility of solutions for reducing the environmental impact of events.
  8. Local Stakeholders Sustainability Engagement:
    • Request for all CL24 venues to follow sustainability best practices.
    • Notification process for non-compliant and unresponsive hotels, with onsite adjustments where appropriate.

Learn more about sustainability in CL24’s event design here.

CL24: Think Bigger

Beyond the Venue: CL24’s Local Impact

Beyond the convention center walls, CL24 extends its influence to make a positive social impact on the local community in San Diego, this year’s host city. Exhibit materials aren’t just headed for the landfill — they will be diverted to Habitat for Humanity. And when it comes to combating local food insecurity, PCMA has teamed up with the San Diego Rescue Mission. 

We’re proud to be on board with PCMA as it charts a course toward more sustainable events. So, while we all gather at CL24 next week, let’s take a moment to reflect on how our practices, big or small, impact our shared environment. It’s the little steps that add up to a big impact! 

Further Reading 

Learn how Shepard makes an impact in the communities where we live and work. 

From the blog: 5 Ways To Be More Sustainable at Events 

Shepard is a full-service event production company. We design, develop and manage trade shows, corporate and other events throughout the U.S.