American Chemical Society documents key advances toward sustainable national meetings: First report of its kind from any organization

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A press conference on this topic will be held at 4 p.m. Eastern Time, March 26, 2012, in the ACS Press Center, Room 15A, in the San Diego Convention Center. Reporters can attend in person or access live audio and video of the event and ask questions at www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive.

SAN DIEGO, March 26, 2012 — The American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, today documented significant progress toward conserving energy and water, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation at its internationally known annual meetings during 2011.

Alan Hutchins, ACS’ director of Meeting Operations, explained that the achievements are core elements in the Society’s efforts to achieve sustainability, the use of resources in ways that meet the needs of people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Summarized in a report released at a press briefing here during the ACS’ 243rd National Meeting & Exposition, the document is the first “registered GRI report” from any scientific society, association or company using the new Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Event Organizers Sector Supplement guidelines, according to LEGACY Sustainability Management. LEGACY is a sustainability reporting and consulting company that partners with associations, corporations and other large event planners to incorporate sustainability initiatives into the event-planning process.

Those guidelines were just released in January by GRI, which is a non-governmental organization that aims to drive sustainability reporting and environmental, social and governance disclosure.

“While we have been internally tracking and reporting event sustainability data since 2010, the process of creating and publishing this GRI report was an exciting step toward both a greater understanding of the quantitative impacts of our meetings and an increased commitment to transparency and stakeholder engagement,” Hutchins said. “By taking this step, the ACS hopes to not only transform its own meetings over time but to demonstrate leadership within the meeting and event industry, pushing fellow associations to enhance their environmental and social responsibility efforts.”

“We bring a sustainability focus to our work, incorporating green meeting practices into the planning and implementation of our annual meetings,” says Dee Casteel, chair, ACS Committee on Meetings & Expositions and associate dean of faculty, College of Arts and Sciences, Bucknell University. “ACS was recognized for these efforts as the recipient of the 2011 Green Leader Award from the Capital Chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).”

The ACS 2011 National Meetings & Expositions Sustainability Report describes initiatives and performance results for National Meetings & Expositions held in Anaheim, Calif., and Denver, Colo. Combined attendance at the meetings exceeded 24,000 people. Among the achievements, ACS:

  • Decreased carbon dioxide associated with hotel shuttles by 50% and offset all 76 remaining tons in partnership with Transportation Management Services through the Carbon Fund.
  • Reduced signage printing and waste by measures that included substitution of digital signs for paper signs and utilization of 100% recyclable signage, containing post-consumer recycled material.
  • Launched the first electronic version of the Denver meeting program as a mobile application and PDF download, saving some 1,600 pounds of paper and associated freight, and significantly reduced the number of printed programs. Programs typically run nearly 500 pages.
  • Designated its Sci-Mix Poster Session as a “zero waste” awareness event, diverting 82 percent of total waste through recycling and composting.
  • Donated all usable, uneaten food from other events at the meeting to local community groups.
  • Provided meeting attendees with reusable plastic water bottles, avoiding use of petroleum-based, disposable water bottles.
  • Donated non-recyclable signs to an area teachers’ group to use to create learning tools.

Each year, ACS hosts two of the most respected and influential meetings within the scientific community, bringing together more than 20,000 chemistry professionals and students from across the globe. In 2008, recognizing that these meetings are vital to advancing the chemistry enterprise, but also have real environmental and social impacts that must be considered, ACS began taking its first steps toward integrating sustainable practices into the event-planning process.

Since then, the ACS Department of Meetings & Expositions Services and the Committee on Meetings & Expositions, in partnership with its sustainability consultants, LEGACY Sustainability Management, have been committed to continuously improving sustainability performance through tracking performance data and collaborating with venue, vendor and hotel partners to develop and implement effective sustainability initiatives.

Mike Wallace, director of the Global Reporting Initiative's Focal Point USA, said, “GRI welcomes the use of the Event Organizers Sector Supplement by the ACS and applauds the leadership they are demonstrating by embracing GRI reporting. Association events bring together a large number of stakeholders, and industry associations like ACS play an important role in helping their members better understand the importance of measuring, managing and reporting on sustainability performance in a credible, comparable and consistent manner. By ACS using the GRI Guidelines, their members and other key stakeholders can see the importance the Society places on sustainability issues.”

“We look forward to seeing the first ACS report that follows the Event Organizers Sector Supplement, and we hope it will be the first of many,” added Wallace.

At future meetings and events, ACS plans to build on its progress on sustainability by implementing several new initiatives, including reducing paper use by increasing awareness of the digital version of the meeting program and exploring hotel amenity donation programs to provide unused portions of hotel shampoos, soaps and other supplies to reduce waste and help local and international communities.

About ACS
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewing journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. www.acs.org

About GRI
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a network-based non-governmental organization that aims to drive sustainability reporting and environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure by all organizations. GRI produces the world’s most widely used Sustainability Reporting Framework to enable this drive toward greater transparency. www.globalreporting.org

About the GRI Event Organizers Sector Supplement
GRI’s Event Organizers Sector Supplement contains the latest and most comprehensive guidance for disclosing sustainability performance, tailored for the events sector. Like all GRI’s guidance, the Supplement has been developed by a diverse multi-stakeholder Working Group following due process, including calls for public comment. The Supplement is applicable in the business, cultural, sports, meeting and convention sectors. https://www.globalreporting.org/reporting/sector-guidance/event-organizers

LEGACY Sustainability Management is a sustainability reporting and consulting company that partners with associations, corporations and other large event planners to incorporate sustainability initiatives into the event-planning process informed by consistent and transparent data tracking and reporting. www.LEGACYsmi.com

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society contact newsroom@acs.org.


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