Workshops in 2023: our sustainability journey

20 December 2023 

It is known that some organised events can create up to 2400 metric tonnes of CO2/eq, which has a significant impact in accelerating global warming. Every step taken to decrease the carbon impact of the event industry counts in the fight against climate change, and this is something which The Company of Biologists feels strongly about.

This year, we reinforced our commitment to decrease the carbon footprint of our scientific Workshops, working hard to implement new sustainable strategies during the organisation and implementation of our events.

We are excited to share with you some of our achievements from 2023 in tackling the carbon footprint of multiple aspects of our Workshops:

Carbon tracking

Our November 2023 Workshop was the first event hosted by The Company of Biologists to track and calculate the carbon footprint of every aspect of the event. This included recording the venue’s energy and water consumption for the duration of the Workshop, and analysing the CO2 output of the transportation, catering, AV, accommodation and communication.

Carbon tracking is a crucial step in order to monitor our progress and identify the carbon footprint of every aspect of our events, to highlight any factors that need to be addressed to reduce our impact going forward.

Sustainable venues

The majority of the CO2 emissions of an event are directly linked to the carbon footprint of the venue. Globally, the variety of different sustainable standards and certificates makes it hard to compare the sustainable strategy of one venue with another. We have worked hard to tackle this by:

  • developing our own checklist to score and rate the sustainability of our chosen venues
  • continuing to look for new venues which are aligned with our sustainable criteria and choosing ones which match closely for hosting future events

If you are interested in finding a sustainable venue for your next event, but are not sure which factors to take into consideration, check out our recent guide on how to choose sustainable venues.

Sustainable menus

Event catering is also known to have an environmental impact through both direct and indirect CO2 emissions. This year we have worked hard to create a new strategy of creating nourishing menus whilst trying to reduce the carbon impact on our planet. At our November 2023 Workshop, we collaborated with My Emissions, a carbon footprint labelling company, and the chef at Buxted Park to make this happen by:

  • prioritising local, seasonal, organic and low carbon footprint ingredients for every meal
  • cutting out beef completely from our menu due to the high greenhouse gas emissions formed during its production
  • introducing a vegan day during our 4-day event
  • encouraging the delegates to make more conscious decisions on what they eat by providing them with the carbon footprint score of each individual meal during our buffet lunches

We are also pleased to announce that our first sustainable lunch and dinner menus obtained a score of B (i.e. low carbon emissions) from My Emissions, and we are committed to obtaining an A (i.e. very low carbon footprint) at our upcoming Workshops in 2024.

If you wish to build a sustainable menu for your next event, but are not sure where to start, check out our guide on how to build sustainable menus for events.

Sustainability and communication

Since 2021, we have been moving towards making our Workshops paperless. To help with this we have been using an event app as a replacement for a printed programme and resources.  Now our app has been expanded and has become a hub for not only sharing our sustainable commitments for the Workshops, but also providing information on how our delegates can contribute to the goal of reducing the carbon footprint of the Workshop.

We continue to expand our sustainability blogs with more tips from The Company of Biologists on how to organise sustainable events or reports from other event organisers that have been able to put their sustainable vision into practice using our Sustainable Conferencing Grant.

Sustainable suppliers

Event suppliers and their services can also impact a significant proportion of indirect carbon emissions produced at events.

In 2023 The Company of Biologists’ events team has started to seek out suppliers that support our sustainable standards. For example, we have identified a new supplier for producing our pull up banners whose manufacturing processes have a lower environmental impact. We also are using a new electric taxi company with ambitious sustainable commitments to manage our local travel and airport transfers.

In 2024, we are committed to increase our list of sustainable suppliers and create long-term relationships with partners who share our sustainable goals.

Contact us?

Are you interested in organising sustainable events, but are not sure where to start? Please check our sustainability tips on our blog page or email us at sustainability@biologists.com.

If you have any idea on how to create sustainable events, we have funding and would love to support you with our Sustainable Conferencing Grant.

Visit our journal websites

Development Journal of Cell Science The Journal of Experimental Biology Disease Models & Mechanisms Biology Open

© 2024 The Company of Biologists Ltd | Registered Charity 277992
Registered in England and Wales | Company Limited by Guarantee No 514735
Registered office: Bidder Building, Station Road, Histon, Cambridge CB24 9LF, UK