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Congress and the environment

Reducing the environmental impact of Congress is an issue which members have raised over recent months.

In response we have put together the following information to explain what is being done already and how everyone can contribute to making Congress more environmentally friendly.

We ask all our members and staff to travel to and from the venue via public transport where possible. If you do need to travel by car then please car share as much as you can.

The ACC is one of the greenest venues in Europe, and the only UK venue with both BREEAM and ISO14001 accreditation. The ACC has a zero-to-landfill policy managed by an onsite recycling centre. It has five low-noise wind turbines contributing to the site’s power supply, and operates rainwater collection which accounts for 40% of the water used for flushing toilets. Together with low-energy lighting, the building was designed to generate 50% less CO2 while using 20% less electricity.

We’re encouraging all Congress delegates to bring their own reusable tea/coffee mugs and water bottles. These must have a lid. We’ll also be selling them at the RCN shop in the Exhibition Hall. (Please note that the on-site caterers are unable to wash or rinse these cups.)

The single-use cups and lids used at the ACC are compostable.

Caterers at the ACC only use sustainable Vegware packaging:

  • Salad boxes - Made from sustainably sourced board with a plant based PLA window. They’re made in the UK, and are commercially compostable.
  • Takeaway boxes - These are suitable for both hot and cold food. They’re made from recycled sugarcane which is an environmentally friendly alternative to polystyrene and are commercially compostable.
  • Deli containers and cold cups - Transparent containers made from commercially compostable plant-based PLA
  • Soup containers - Suitable for hot soup, both the bodies and lids are commercially compostable.
  • Cutlery - Made from recycled materials, this was the world’s first compostable cutlery made from recycled plant-based PLA.
  • Straws -  Made from ecovio, a compostable plant-based material

Construction of the Exhibition Hall and the registration area is managed by Joe Manby Ltd. During the construction and get-out phases of their work, every effort is made to minimise noise, traffic disruption and other environmental impacts. Preference is always given to the most environmentally sustainable products and where waste disposal is unavoidable, this is only carried out through licensed contractors or other responsible and recorded means.

In addition, all the carpet used is sent for recycling, this is made into plastic pellets, which in turn as used to make water butts, playground equipment etc. All the exhibition construction materials are reused after each event, including electrical cables which are part of a reusable system.

Production in the main hall – including the set and all audio/visual requirements – is managed by PWP Productions. Low-energy lighting is used throughout resulting in a saving of around 40,000 watts, and all electrical equipment is switched off when not in use. Batteries, coloured gel offcuts, lamps and cable toggles are re-used or recycled appropriately. The carpet and other stage coverings are recycled after Congress, and items such as the podium and other stock panels are stored for re-use.

A paper-free Congress is our ultimate aim. The reliability of connectivity – both wifi and 3/4/5G signals – as well as the availability of devices and suitable software to deliver a successful event are some of the issues which need to be addressed before we can remove paper altogether.

In the meantime, the Agenda Committee, Council and RCN staff are making every effort to reduce the amount of printed material produced for Congress, while still giving delegates all the information they need to make the most of their time in Liverpool.

The Congress Daily Bulletin, a round-up of news and views from Congress will be produced digitally this year. This follows a successful trial of the new RCN Magazines online platform at Congress last year.

We have also stopped producing Congress at a Glance, the small, folded schedule designed to fit in the back pocket of the badge wallets. Production schedules meant that this had to be completed long before Congress and that it was out-of-date by the time Congress started. 

Everything you need to know about Congress, include up-to-date schedules, is available live on the Congress website.

Printed material produced by the RCN for Congress, including the main Congress Guide, is manufactured by our printers Brown, Knight and Truscott (BKT). BKT’s sustainability policy requires the company to comply with, and exceed where practicable, all applicable legislation, regulations and codes of practice. BKT is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and uses exclusively FSC-certified paper, either virgin, recycled or a blend of both.

FSC runs a global forest certification system with two key components: Forest Management and Chain of Custody certification. This system allows consumers to identify, purchase and use wood, paper and other forest products produced from well-managed forests and/or recycled materials. 

FSC’s “tick tree” logo is used to indicate that products are certified under the FSC system. When you see the FSC logo on a label, you can buy forest products with confidence that you are helping to ensure our forests are alive for generations to come.

We base the quantity of materials we order on the number of registered delegates, and our expectation of the numbers who will actually attend.

Delegate bags, and the associated promotional fliers and fillers they contained, will no longer be produced for Congress.

Please bring your own bags to keep your Congress guides and other bits and pieces together.

We only use PET polyester lanyards. PET is made from recycled polyester, respun into new material. These are also biodegradable so if you do not wish to keep yours, please leave your and plastic badge wallets in the dedicated recycling bins by the main entrance. We will ensure that the wallets are re-used and that the biodegradable lanyards are disposed of appropriately.

We are adopting a more sustainable approach to the branded clothing worn by staff, ambassadors, students and committee members. Polo shirts are now kept by committee members for the duration of their office and, this year, our staff are piloting wearing gilets rather than T shirts.  The gilets can be worn over their own clothes and reduce the need to buy multiple T shirts for each staff member. They can also be re-used at future events.

Page last updated - 05/03/2019