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April 4, 2008
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Does BS8901 have what it takes to succeed?




At Jack Morton we are actively interested in making our work sustainable, and have taken major steps over the past two years to reduce our carbon footprint and environmental impact, so we welcome any initiative that will help us to do so. As far as BS 8901 is concerned, there are definitely some good recommendations within the standard which we will trial.

One thing is abundantly clear, and that is that the events industry, throughout its entire supply chain, does need to take major steps to improve its green credentials, and in particular look at reducing the significant amount of waste that it creates and improving its record on recycling. Someone needs to be championing this cause, and BS8901 would seem a good starting place.

As far as whether or not it will work, sadly, I am sceptical. As with all standards, it is quite difficult to interpret and also onerous to follow to the letter. Sections such as the “sustainable development maturity matrix” are almost unintelligible to anyone lacking a degree in sustainable development studies. Many event organisers are small companies, and will not be able to cope with the potential administrative burden that this could add to an already stretched resource. So I fear they won't bother at all.

It would be useful for some other organisation to step forward with some simpler recommendations, guidelines and benchmarks for KPIs, that anyone can follow, and that will make a difference.

Furthermore, companies need to follow the standard because they want to reduce the environmental impact of their operations, not just to step in line. I believe a clever company with a clever consultant could produce a paper trail that shows compliance without actually altering their practices much. That would be a great shame.

At the end of the day, I expect that large commissioning clients, in particular those with strong procurement organisations, and government departments will embrace the standard, and I can only applaud them for doing so. As such, those other companies in their supply chain that do also adhere to the standard can only benefit, as according to the standard they must receive preferential treatment.

Julian Pullan is joint managing director at Jack Morton Worldwide


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