From our very first conference in 1994, MeetGreen has been directly concerned with the impacts of event waste and waste reduction. Our approaches have evolved quite a bit since then, but are rooted in questions such as, how can we accurately measure, account for, and better understand the central inputs and outputs of our event waste stream? And then, how can we reduce and improve these over a consistent period of time?
This methodology and the severity of the issues surrounding event waste was validated more than a decade later when the United States Environmental Protection Agency listed the meetings, conventions, and events industry as the second most waste producing industry in our nation. While recent years have seen a marked improvement since those darkest days of the EPA assessment, there remains a substantial and striking gap between a small number of high-performing properties and events and the rest of the pack. At present there is not an event-specific diversion rate for our field, but if the present average diversion rate of 36% for United States cities is any indication, there is still tremendous room to grow for our meetings and conventions. While event waste management in the United States varies widely, in recent years, one term has begun to gain main-stream traction in our lexicon around exemplary achievement: Zero Waste.