56 Sustainability Statistics Planners Need to Know

July 24, 2019

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Here at Stova, we were thrilled to see IMEX take a stance on sustainability this year. When hundreds or even thousands of people travel to attend a meeting or event, it impacts the environment greatly and in more ways than we think. It’s up to planners to educate themselves and take steps to make their meetings and events more sustainable.

At the Frankfurt event back in May, we supported sustainability initiatives by incorporating recyclable badges and reusable coffee cups at our digitally-oriented booth, and we plan on continuing to do so in Las Vegas. To kick off our commitment as a exhibitor, here are some sustainability stats planners need to know to inform their decisions going forward:

Transportation & Energy

Travel is a huge part of the events industry, so it’s crucial that planners are aware of the impact events can have via transportation and general energy use.

  • By 2020, hybrid meetings will now be the norm, reducing carbon emissions from travel and opening up meetings to those who would otherwise have been unable to attend. (Source)
  • In 2017 314,000 wind turbines supplied nearly 4% of global electricity. (Source)
  • Roughly 1 billion people (13% of the world’s population) live without electricity with around 118 million people gaining access to electricity each year. (Source)
  • Nine out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air. (Source)
  • An estimated 7 million people die every year from air pollution, with almost 90 percent of deaths occurring in countries of low and middle incomes. (Source)
  • Did you know that many electronics consume energy even when they’re not actively “on”? It’s called phantom energy, and besides being a waste of electricity, it can add as much as 10 percent to your electricity bill. (Source)
  • When you switch from incandescent light bulbs to energy efficient light bulbs like the compact fluorescent light bulbs, you use 70% to 75% less energy. (Source)

Food & Beverage

How many times have you attended or planned an event with mounds of leftovers? Be sure to estimate your attendee numbers and try not to over order food. Additionally, to reduce waste, order food and beverages in bulk. Rather than a 6-pack of individually packaged sodas, stick to a two-liter.

  • An estimated one third of all food produced globally is either lost or wasted, in an age where almost one billion people go hungry. (Source)
  • 3.6 billion of the global population live in potentially water-stressed areas. This is expected to reach 4.8 5.7 billion by 2050. (Source)
  • The average beef hamburger takes 2400 liters of water to produce. (Source)
  • A loss of 30% of all food produced worldwide occurs along the value-added chain “from farm to fork” every year which equates to about 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste. (Source)
  • The food wasted by the United States and Europe alone could feed the world 3 times over. (Source)
  • Food production requires water. In the United States, food waste accounts for 25 percent of the country’s water use. (Source)
  • One ton of food waste prevented can save 4.2 tons of CO2 equivalent. (Source)
  • Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries. (Source)
  • Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish. (Source)
  • 1 in 7 truckloads carrying perishables are eventually tossed after being delivered to supermarkets, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). (Source)

Going Paperless & Getting Digital

This is arguably the most relevant point for planners, where planners can make the greatest impact. The stats below explain why switching to paperless and digital event planning platforms is an important step to make in prompting and supporting sustainability.

  • An average of 4 weeks is lost each year waiting on misfiled, mislabeled, untracked, or lost documents. (Source)
  • U.S. businesses use around 21 million tons of paper every year. (Source)
  • Every year, $25-35 billion is spent in the U.S. on filing, storing, and retrieving paper. (Source)
  • Every 4-drawer file cabinet holds between 10,000-12,000 documents, occupies around 9 square feet of floor space. and costs $1,500 yearly to maintain. (Source)
  • Pulp and paper is the third largest industrial polluter to air, water, and land in both Canada and the United States, and releases well over 100 million kg of toxic pollution each year. (Source)
  • 59% of businesses going paperless achieved full ROI in less than 12 months; 84% achieved payback in less than 18 months. (Source)
  • Going paperless can improve staff productivity by nearly 30%. (Source)
  • Printing accounts for 10% of IT-related energy use this can be eliminated by going paperless. (Source)
  • Printer ink costs more per ounce than a bottle of Chanel No. 5. (Source)
  • Ninety-two percent of 300 U.S. companies participating in a survey conducted by the IDC said that “getting customers to move from print to online services is a goal they hope to initiate within 12 months. (Source)
  • On average, Americans use 650 pounds of paper a year. Each. (Source)
  • A single American consumes roughly two trees annually in paper products. (Source)
  • The majority of the 4 million tons of junk mail that Americans receive annually ends up in landfills. (Source)

Life in Plastic, Not Fantastic

As you find yourself planning your event or meeting, remember to avoid unnecessary uses of plastic. If you can find an alternative, do so.

  • An estimated five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. (Source)
  • Globally only 9% of plastic ever produced has been recycled, whilst 79% can now be found in landfills, dumps or the environment and 12% has been incinerated.(Source)
  • In just the U.S. alone, one estimate suggests 500 million straws are used every single day. (Source)
  • One study published earlier this year estimated as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches. (Source)
  • Eight million tons of plastic flow into the ocean every year. (Source)
  • Plastic straws comprise just 0.025 percent of that eight million tons. (Source)
  • 91% of plastic going un-recycled, the business of recycling is a huge market opportunity. (Source)
  • Plastics cause more than 80% of the negative effects on animals associated with ocean trash. (Source)
  • Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and ingestion. (Source)
  • Of that, 269,000 tons of plastic float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea. (Source)

Recycling at Events

As a planner, it’s important not only to encourage your attendees to recycle, but to make the process as easy, accessible and straightforward as possible.

  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as it takes to burn it. (Source)
  • The U.S. recycling rate is around 34.5%. If we’re able to get the rate to 75%, the effect will be like removing 50 million passenger cars from U.S. roads. (Source)
  • 9 out of 10 people said they would recycle if it were “easier.” (Source)
  • It only takes 5 recycled plastic bottles to make enough fiberfill to stuff a ski jacket. (Source)
  • A single recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours. It also creates 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than would be created when making a new bottle. (Source)
  • There is no limit to the number of times you can recycle an aluminum can. (Source)
  • You can make 20 new cans from recycled material using the same amount of energy that it takes to make 1 brand new can. (Source)

The Price of Sustainable Choices

Many dismiss sustainability as an expensive practice. However, there are plenty of statistics to encourage people to put their money where their mouths are, and evaluate the cost of sustainability.

  • Nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment. (Source)
  • These consumers spent $128.5 billion on sustainable fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) products this year*. (Source)
  • Since 2014, these influential shoppers have grown sustainable product sales by nearly 20%, with a compound average growth rate (CAGR) that’s four times larger than conventional products (3.5% vs -1.0%** comparatively). (Source)
  • By 2021, we expect these sustainably minded shoppers to spend up to $150 billion on sustainable FMCG goods an increase of $14 billion $22 billion.(Source)
  • Millennials, however, are also more likely than Baby Boomers (53% vs. 34%) to say they’d be willing to forgo a brand in order to buy products that are environmentally friendly. (Source)
  • Millennials also find it much easier to find environmentally friendly products in the stores where they shop (74% vs. 46%). (Source)
  • According to Nielsen and Natural Marketing Institute’s (NMI) segmentation, 60% of Americans fall into the “Sustainable Mainstream” category. They want to be more sustainable, but they are also searching for some added benefits, such as improving health or cost and environmental savings. (Source)
  • While we expect sustainable-minded shoppers to spend up to $150 billion on sustainable products by 2021. (Source)
  • According to the most authoritative research to date, humanity could save $26 trillion by 2030 through a global shift to sustainable development. (Source)

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