As the Meeting Industry Association launches its #20PercentLess campaign, chief executive Jane Longhurst encourages AIEA members to spread the word so we can win the war against single-use plastics.

Over the last year we have become more conscious of single-use plastic and the negative impact it has on the environment.
Many are already taking steps to cut their plastics use and help reduce the estimated five million tonnes that WRAP says is created in the UK each year.
Reducing plastic use is certainly an area the meetings and events industry should be focusing on and we know that, like other industries there is a keenness to cut reliance on single-use plastics in a bid to operate more sustainably and improve our carbon footprint.
This growing ambition to operate in a more environmentally-friendly way is the reason why the mia has launched the #20PercentLess campaign. The campaign asks organisations to commit to eliminating single-use plastic by a minimum of 20% each year for the next five years, so that by 2025 they will no longer be using it.
Our campaign is already gaining widespread support from across the industry with dozens of companies and organisations signing our pledge wall and committing to cutting plastic.
However, while we’re thrilled to see our campaign gaining momentum, it will only achieve its aim if it gains widespread support and everyone – whether they are a chain of hotels and conference centres, a booking agent, sports stadium or supplier – agrees to make cutting out plastic a priority.
While it is important for organisations to audit their own plastics use and find recyclable or re-usable alternatives to products like plastic cups, plastic water bottles and plastic cutlery, it is also important that they encourage others to do likewise.
One of our campaign’s aims is to influence the supply chain and ensure those you work with and your suppliers, share the same ethos when it comes to the protecting the environment. After all, if you’re a conference venue and have done all the hard work of eliminating plastics within the meeting space, only to find that the catering company hired to provide lunch relies on reams of cling film and plastic trays to wrap and transport food, it may feel like a wasted effort.
Likewise, a carbon conscious client will not be too pleased if the meeting venue they have booked through an agency serves water in plastic bottles and coffee in disposable cups.
It is individual businesses and organisations who will sign our pledge wall, but the only way we can truly eliminate single-use plastics within the meetings and events industry is if we tackle it as a collective.
As members of the AIEA you are part of a wide network that is used to sharing knowledge and expertise, so educating your peers and suppliers about the plastics problem and convincing them why it makes sense to find alternatives should come as second nature.
By working together and choosing suppliers with similar goals we stand a far greater chance of winning the war against single-use plastics and that, after all, is why we are doing it.
Businesses can find out more about the mia’s campaign and join the initiative by signing the #20PercentLess edge on the trade association’s website here.