Making annual general meetings “environmentally responsible”
|In domains||Banking and Finance, Conservation of Source Materials, Giving Back to the Community|
In order to raise greater awareness of sustainable development among its members, the Desjardins Group decided that, as of 2006, its annual general meetings (attended by about 2,000 participants) would be environmentally responsible events. To attain this objective, the bank entered into a partnership with the Chaire en éco-Conseil at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC)
Founded in 2003, the mission of the Chaire en éco-conseil is to support the development of the profession of eco-counsellor, highlight the importance of this occupation in the implementation of sustainable development projects and draw attention to the necessity of establishing theoretical foundations for this profession in order to ensure that it becomes an integral and permanent part of our society. The research program is based on eco-counselling practices and sustainable development. For more information click on the following link (French only): http://www.uqac.ca/recherche/organismes/chaire_ecoconseil.php
The objective is to ensure that the event is run according to the 4 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover) and to raise awareness among participants of environmentally-friendly practices, particularly sorting and reducing waste.
• Desjardins asked the Chaire en éco-Conseil to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions generated by participants travelling to the annual general meeting. For the time being, the bank compensates for these emissions by planting trees. Since the beginning of the initiative, Desjardins has planted over 15,000 trees.
• Desjardins gives its partners (such as the Centre des Congrès in Québec City or the Palais des Congrès in Montréal) very detailed lists to ensure that local caterers are hired who will provide foods that are in season and use a minimum of packaging. The bank also makes logistical recommendations, such as using durable rather than disposable dishware, providing water coolers instead of bottled water, and placing dozens of bins for recycling and composting.
• The “Green Squad”, a team of volunteers, is responsible for raising awareness among participants about waste reduction and collecting badges at the end of the event.
• Lastly, uneaten meals will be given to the Tablée des Chefs, a non-profit organization working with community associations to end hunger.
Financial investment: a three-person team is appointed and given the task of contacting partners and suppliers and overseeing the preparation of the event. Financial costs are particularly high when partners have to cover additional expenses in cases of emergencies, since these expenses are then billed to or shared with clients. For example, Desjardins joined Montréal’s Palais des Congrès in a program to collect compostable material: the Palais was responsible for collecting the compost and Desjardins paid for transporting it to a special treatment centre (in Sorel). However, such costs are decreasing as partners become better equipped to handle such environmental tasks. In general, organizing an environmentally responsible event costs about $5-10 more per person than it does for “traditional” events.
Time investment: the first time an environmentally responsible event was held, the necessary preparations lasted over eight months. At the end of the second year, only about three to four months was required. It is necessary to get involved in the event logistics as soon as the planning begins; one has to be aware of all requirements sufficiently far in advance so that suppliers can address them and act accordingly. It is often necessary to raise awareness among partners and provide them with support.
Investments in terms of awareness-raising: a team of volunteers (in the case of Desjardins, about 10 people for 2,500 participants) is quickly formed before the event to raise awareness among the public regarding topics such as the selective sorting of waste. During the event, information regarding the concept of an environmentally responsible event is distributed to the public. Overall, feedback from participants at such events is very positive.
Between 2006 (the year the pilot project took place) and 2007, there was a reduction in the daily volume of garbage per person from 167 g to 10.7 g, a decrease of more than 95%!
The volume of plastic/glass/metal waste went from 356 kg to 62.1 kg (-82.6%), that of paper/cardboard waste from 2,520 kg to 35.2 kg (a drop of over 98%) and that of final waste from 746 kg to 45.1kg (-94%). However, the volume of compostable material increased by almost 600%, rising from 78 kg to 540.4 kg.
Tremblant Forum 2006
-Organized by: public relations firm NATIONAL -Examples of environmentally responsible measures adopted:
• Promotional bags made by a social welfare organization;
• Fair trade food baskets offered to conference speakers;
• Choice of environmentally responsible financial partners;
• Vegetarian menus;
• Organic and local products;
• Compensation for greenhouse gas emissions;
• FSC-certified paper;
• Rented biodiesel bus for transporting participants;
• Electronic communication.
-January 20 to 22, 2005, at the Hyatt-Regency Hotel, Montréal
-Organized by: Le Réseau québécois des femmes en environnement
-Number of participants: 500
-Objective: to hold a 100% environmentally responsible event
-Examples of environmentally responsible measures adopted:
• Handicapped-accessible location easily reached by métro and featuring on-site accommodation;
• Efforts to promote sustainable transit and responsible consumption to participants, partners, exhibitors, hotel staff and passers-by in the Place du Complexe Desjardins;
• Recycling and composting of waste materials;
• Double-sided printing on recycled paper (when printing was necessary);
• Vegetarian, locally-produced, fair trade and organic meals without packaging;
• Only washable dishware;
• Invitation of and participation by people from various backgrounds to share their expertise and help develop multisectoral projects;
• Efforts made to facilitate the participation of low-income persons;
• Tributes to leading Québec women working for the environment.
For other examples, click on the following link: http://www.evenementecoresponsable.com/content/view/24/41/
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