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Plans for ‘compostable’ plastics at London Olympics

January 4th, 2012

Amid claims that the London 2012 Olympics will be the greenest in the event’s history, an environmental organisation is hoping that plastic packaging used at the event that is not recyclable will be made from compostable materials.

The NNFCC, the UK’s National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials, has agreed to act as an advisor to the Olympics Delivery Authority and London Organising Committee on how renewable packaging can be used at the event. The organisation is helping to create a supply chain for bio-based packaging at the London Olympics and will ensure that materials used comply with European Standard EN13432 (the requirement for packaging recovery through composting and biodegradation).

The NNFCC said this certification would mean that non-reusable, non-recyclable packaging should be suitable for ‘in-vessel’ composting or anaerobic digestion. John Williams, the NNFCC’s Head of Materials, said the body wanted any plastics used at London 2012 that were not recyclable to be made out of certified compostable plastic. The NNFCC is promoting the certification scheme for compostable materials through its UK Renewable Packaging Group, while “raising awareness of the benefits offered by more sustainable materials to key players in the packaging supply chain”.

Mr Williams conceded that the scale of the Olympics venture would be relatively small but added, “2012 is a perfect way to show how waste can be dealt with.” The NNFCC is working with a number of retail brands – including the fast food chain, McDonalds – in the run-up to the event.

Here at the Corporate Carrier Company, we take environmental concerns seriously. As standard, all of our polythene bags are produced from biodegradable plastic. They are also produced in the UK, minimising transport miles. All our UK-produced laminated paper bags are manufactured with paper from approved sustainable sources and the inks used are made from vegetable dyes, making them an eco-friendly option. Whilst we have the option to import bags when longer lead times allow, the vast majority of our laminated paper bags are produced in the UK, minimising transport miles. Of course, our twisted handle paper bags are 100% biodegradable, while our cotton bags are produced from natural, unbleached cotton.

Event tourism gets government backing

December 21st, 2011

Following its launch in the autumn, momentum continues to gather for this year’s Britain for Events campaign. Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media & Sport, Jeremy Hunt, have both officially endorsed the campaign. Speaking at the recent World Travel Market event, Mr Hunt revealed the government’s latest initiative, under which it is calling on the domestic tourism industry to give 20.12% discounts on hotels and holidays bought before the end of the Olympic Games.

Mr Hunt said the project would be backed by a £4 million marketing campaign that would include two months of television advertising from its launch in February. The campaign has already secured the backing of Hoseasons, Bourne Leisure, The Coach Tourism Council, Superbreak and The Eden Project, which will all offer 20.12% off rooms and holidays for people who book before the closing ceremony of the Paralympics on September 9 – although the actual period of travel can be outside this date. “What we want to do is make next year into a moment when we turn a corner for our domestic tourism industry which has often been a poor relation,” said Jeremy Hunt. “I want to turn it into something really aspirational.”

Commented Michael Hirst, Chair of the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) and Campaign Co-ordinator for Britain for Events, “Event tourism is now firmly on the government agenda. It is fitting that these developments have all taken place in the lead up to, and during one of the UK’s seminal tourism events and goes to demonstrate the growing role both business and leisure events play in UK tourism.”

London set to lose corporate events in busy 2012 summer

December 20th, 2011

Recent research has indicated that London may lose some of its lucrative corporate events business next summer, as events managers avoid the capital in what will undoubtedly be a busy period. With both the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, London is set to be overrun with British as well as foreign tourists.

In research carried out by the corporate venue, Center Parcs, among 110 of its corporate events clients – which include Innocent, Sainsbury’s, Gap, Vodafone, HSBC and the NHS – 85% of respondents who have in the past hosted summer events in the capital said they will be moving their events outside of London. Of the survey respondents, 42% regularly host events in the capital, with 40% of these London events taking place during the summer months. Some 15% of those who plan meetings, conferences and events in the capital said they plan to postpone any activity to later in 2012. The reasons for their decision to host events outside of London included cost (58%) and likely transport issues (17%).

The research from Center Parcs is supported by the findings of the European Tour Operators’ Association, which predicts an average 90% downturn in bookings in London during next summer.

Outlook for the events industry in 2012

December 20th, 2011

With rising fears concerning the state of the economy and the Euro zone crisis, alongside high hopes surrounding the Olympics, the outlook for 2012 in the UK exhibitions and events sector really is a mixed bag.

What is not in doubt is the fact that there is a lot at stake here. In a recent article in support of the Britain for Events campaign, Kevin Murphy, CEO of ExCel London, outlined the impact that the events industry has on the UK economy: “Every organisation that chooses to bring its event to the UK delivers an average economic impact of £15 million for its local economy, meaning just 10 more events held in this country would generate £150 million. That would pay for 7,000 nurses in our hospitals, 6,000 more teachers in our schools or 5,000 more police officers on our streets.”

Ocean Media, organisers of the UK Venue Show and Event Production Show, recently provided an optimistic report following research conducted amongst some 3,000 visitors. This indicated that budgets would increase by 10% year on year. Meanwhile, the Britain for Events campaign gained momentum during 2011, with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, officially endorsing the campaign. In addition, the identification of business tourism as one of the areas to benefit from VisitEngland’s successful bid for £19.8 million of Regional Growth Fund will bring a welcome boost. The cash will fund the three-year ‘Growing Tourism Locally’ project and help the UK events industry to capitalise on key events in 2012 including the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Diamond Jubilee, the Torch Relay and the Cultural Olympiad.

Although the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement painted a gloomy picture, with the UK growth forecast for 2012 revised down from 2.5% to 0.7%, hard-hit consumers may continue to shun foreign holidays in favour of domestic vacations and day trips, which would be a welcome shot in the arm for cultural, music and festival events in the UK.

The Autumn Statement also made provision for support for SMEs through a credit-easing programme, a £1 billion business finance partnership to raise money for medium-sized firms and a regional growth regeneration fund. The many SMEs that are service providers to the events industry may well benefit. On balance, then, things are not looking so bad for 2012.

CBI says government and business should work together to save resources

December 15th, 2011

According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), government and business interests need to work together to overcome the barriers that prevent the use of fewer resources and achieve greater efficiencies.

At the launch of its report entitled ‘Made to last: Creating a resource efficient economy’ earlier this week, the CBI said that businesses are increasingly looking to improve their resource efficiency in terms of both man-made and natural materials, as doing so offers them competitive advantage and reduces their dependence on supplies which can be volatile in price and availability.

At an event on resource security organised jointly with the Green Alliance and attended by Business Secretary, Vince Cable, the CBI’s Deputy Director-General, Neil Bentley, said, “The CBI has worked hard over a number of years to show leadership on climate change. We want to do the same with the much broader issue of resource efficiency. There’s a business case for acting, and a threat to our growth prospects if we don’t.” He went on, “Too many different government departments at too many different levels are coming up with their own ways of dealing with this problem. We’re looking to the Business Secretary and the EU Commissioner to give us the right policy framework. The CBI continues to believe you need to be green and grow. At the front of our mind should be how we can use this agenda to increase our competitiveness, deliver growth and ensure security of supplies well into the future. Framed correctly, environmental goals can help us achieve our economic goals.”

The CBI report argues that three steps are necessary to achieve a more resource efficient economy:

  1. Recognise that resource efficiency makes business and environmental sense and will be key to our future economy;
  2. Establish a shared set of indicators for resource efficiency before introducing targets; and
  3. Address policy and market risks to investment in resource efficient products and services

Also speaking at the event, Chief Executive of WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), Liz Goodwin, argued that produce reuse could hold the key to issues of resource security. She said that by pursuing the opportunities for reuse, the UK could lower its reliance on raw materials by as much as 20% by the year 2020. Her speech hinted at a shift from a focus on packaging to one on products and their lifecycles.

In the supply of custom-printed carrier bags, for example, the CBI and WRAP would no doubt recommend a shift towards longer-life bags such as those produced from cotton, canvas or non-woven material.

During his time at the podium, the European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, said the EC would be promoting eco-design next year within the EU. He stated, “If every company could afford to carry out a proper life-cycle costing of its operations and products, and consumers were properly informed, then waste could be prevented, products recycled and re-used. Many companies are already doing this, but there are many different standards across the European economy. A common approach across the EU would help break down these barriers and open up more opportunities for a truly European Single Market for green products. Public authorities could help by making their procurement decisions sustainable across the life-cycle.”

Redeveloped West Hall opens at Olympia

December 14th, 2011

Venue owner Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O) has opened Olympia’s redeveloped West Hall as planned. Part of a 20 million investment in Olympia by EC&O’s parent company – Capital & Counties (Capco) – the improvements include the addition of a floor to transform the West Hall into a two-storey, 90,000-square-foot exhibition facility. Links have also been created to the Grand Hall and Olympia Two behind the restored façade.

Nigel Nathan, EC&O Venues Managing Director, said, “Our vision for Olympia respects the fabric of this historic building whilst also making the internal space easier to access and more flexible for organisers to use. These enhancements protect our heritage and position the Olympia complex for the future.”

Karim Halwagi, Chief Executive of the Association of Event Organisers, believes the enhancements will help stimulate the London event market.

“The expansion of space at Olympia is a positive step for the exhibition industry as it will help both large and small shows grow,” he said. “Large shows will be able to get better utilisation and visitor flows while small shows will have more flexibility to expand.”

EC&O dismisses TfL’s special tube service

December 13th, 2011

In the latest chapter in the long-running saga of tube services from Olympia to Olympia exhibition centre, venue owner Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O) has played down a special underground service to be provided for 20 shows at the venue during the next six months.

Following negotiations with Transport for London (TfL), the special services have been implemented now that the full weekday service has ended. Between January and June 2012, two trains an hour will run off-peak to the venue on weekdays, with the full District line service continuing to operate at weekends and on Bank Holidays. Shows to get the special tube service include the London International Horse Show, the Doctor Who Experience and the National Wedding Show.

EC&O, however, has been rather dismissive, urging visitors to use the overground train service instead. Said EC&O Head of Marketing, Tom Lambregts, “The best way to get to Olympia is on the excellent overground service. It is a far more frequent service, with up to seven trains an hour.”

The full list of the shows set to receive the special District Line service is as follows:

London International Horse Show,13-19 Dec

BETT 2012, 11-13 Jan

Doctor Who Experience, 12-13 Jan & Feb 13-14

Toy Fair, 25-26 Jan

Learning Tech Exhibition, 25-26 Jan

Cloud Expo Europe, 25 Jan

Pure Womenswear Spring, 13-14 Feb

London Investor, Feb 24

Who do you think you are! Feb 24

The National Wedding Show, 24 Feb

Stitch & Craft, 16 Mar

Landscape, 16 Mar

Boden Sale, 16 Mar

British & International Franchise, 16 Mar

Social Media World Forum, 28 Mar

UCAS London, 28-30 Mar

Counter Terror Expo, 25-26 Apr

HRD, 25-26 Apr

Spirit of Summer,16-18 May

Café Culture, 16-17 May

Allergy Show, 18 May

Medical Commissioning, 27-28 Jun

Marketing Week Live, 27-28 Jun

Unilever partners local council for recycling initiative

December 8th, 2011

Fast-moving consumer goods giant, Unilever, has announced plans to work in partnership with Torbay Council in a pilot project for mixed plastics recycling. This is the first time Unilever has worked with a council on such a scheme and its decision has been commended by the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP).

The name behind famous household brands such as Wall’s, Flora, Persil, Dove and Knorr will support the council’s new mixed plastics recycling initiative. From December, the 60,000 households in Torbay will be able to recycle their mixed plastics by adding them to their weekly refuse collection, to be sorted in transit. Materials that previously went to landfill that will now be recycled include margarine tubs, noodle pots and ice cream tubs.

Torbay Council’s Executive Lead with responsibility for waste disposal and recycling, Councillor David Thomas, said, “It is thanks to the fantastic efforts of Torbay residents that we have increased the Bay’s recycling rate to 45 per cent. We are aware they would also like to recycle plastics and other items, and we are really pleased that our joint venture company, TOR21, has been able to find outlets for these items. We are also extremely grateful to Unilever for their support for our latest initiative.”

Commenting on behalf of Unilever, Louis Lindenberg, Global Packaging Sustainability Director, said, “Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Unilever. In the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, we made a global commitment to halve our environmental impact by 2020 across the life cycle of our products, incorporating a pledge to increase recycling in countries all around the world, including the UK. This project with Torbay Council is a great example of our commitment in action and our way of helping consumers to do their part for the environment.”

About a million tonnes of non-bottle plastic packaging are disposed of by households each year in the UK. With this new programme, Unilever and Torbay Council are demonstrating how this type of packaging can be collected and recycled effectively into valuable resource streams.

Collections sold to pay for funeral of ‘bag lady’

December 2nd, 2011

Family, friends and neighbours of a collector affectionately known as the ‘bag lady’ are planning to auction off her property to pay the costs of her funeral.

Carol Vaughan, who died recently at the age of 67 at her home in the Black Country’s Great Barr, had amassed a collection of more than 35,000 carrier bags, as well as 600 biscuit tins, 850 mugs and a Guinness World Record-breaking number of soaps. She had became a local celebrity and even recently appeared on ITV’s Daybreak programme, in the show’s ‘Collectorholics’ feature.

Despite her tendency to hoard unusual items – including also ashtrays, watches, cuddly toys and beads – she was not given to collecting cash and the executors of her will claim that there is no money to fund her funeral. Hence the sell-off of the thousands of items that she has collected over the years.

Carrier bag collector passes away

December 1st, 2011

A prolific collector of carrier bags who was known affectionately as ‘the bag lady’ has died at the age of 67.

Carol Vaughan of Great Barr in the Black Country had amassed a collection of more than 35,000 carrier bags over a number of years. It wasn’t just bags that took Carol’s eye, however; she also made it into the Guinness Book of Records for having the biggest soap collection, as well as collecting over 600 biscuit tins and 850 mugs. Incredibly, all the items were kept at her rather modest home in Dunedin Road, where she passed away.

Carol recently had a brush with fame, appearing on ITV’s ‘Daybreak’ in its ‘collectorholics’ slot, where she talked about her love of collecting. Tributes have been paid by numerous friends and neighbours, who told how she could “light up a room”.