Asian MICE industry needs to be cleaner, greener: experts

Industry experts at the International MICE Conference and Forum 2019 in Chiang Mai last week urged the Asian business events industry to clean up its act and adopt more sustainable practices.

Orachorn Wongpan-Ngam, MICE Capabilities Development Department director of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), said: “It is very important that our industry focuses on sustainability. In organising a business event, we consume a lot and waste a lot.”

GainingEdge’s Jane Vong Holmes (standing) leads a panel session on sustainable MICE with speakers (from left) TCEB’s Arunwadi Leewananthawet, Pu Muen Village’s Jirawan Chaikor, and Holiday Inn Chiang Mai’s Maneeporn Koatkhao (Photo by TCEB)

Reducing the use of plastic, minimising food waste, moving towards green energy and using local resources are steps the industry is being encouraged to consider.

Seung Jyun Yoon, a professor of Hannam University in South Korea, said: “It’s important to promote the use of eco-friendly products, reduce the printing of information, manage food waste, use public transport and use less disposable products.

“MICE companies need to make a positive contribution to communities and use local suppliers and human resources.”

Maneeporn Koatkhao, director of sales and marketing at Holiday Inn Chiang Mai, said IHG has rolled out a series of sustainability measures, such as reducing plastic, using green energy, waste management and encouraging employees and associates to adopt eco-friendly practises.

Electronic documents have replaced printed alternatives and leftover food from buffets is given to the staff canteen.

Koatkhao added: “At meetings, companies want to impress by having their logo on bottles of water at conferences. We have moved towards using glasses or encourage organisers to give away recycled bottles to delegates who can fill them up from a water cooler.”

In 2018, TCEB developed the Thailand Sustainable Event and launched its standards earlier this year. It is currently auditing MICE organisations, and at least 15 of them will be certified by the end of the year.

The programme has been supporting some local players in their sustainability efforts. JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok’s food waste prevention programme is one such example.

As part of its five-year plans, TCEB aims for the standards to be adopted by all ASEAN members.

Jane Vong Holmes, senior manager, Asia of GainingEdge, concluded that sustainability is “not only for the future of human kind but because we need to futureproof our business”.

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