Sustainable event catering at IMEX

By Eric Wallinger

3 mins

How IMEX serves up sustainability with its catering choices

When you consume food or drink, do you wonder where it has come from, or where its packaging will go? Do you think about how much water your food takes to produce?

These considerations have become a driving force behind the use of food and beverage at our shows.

Food hall IMEX America

The complex supply chains in the food and beverage industry are difficult to influence but have the most impact on our environment – especially at large events. But it’s possible to make changes. 

Sustainable food production in the local area 

There’s a growing partnership with community businesses local to Las Vegas, such as the use of sustainably produced flour from Bon Breads–only seven miles away from the event site–which is used in all sandwich bread and burger buns. This means less carbon impact from unnecessary global transportation and more resources being kept directly in the local economy.

Compostable serviceware

A second area of the supply chain that has been impacted is the transformation of all non-reusable cups, plates and service-ware into compostable products. This requires forethought and training with convention center food outlets and operations. It also requires compost-only bins to be set on the show floor and arrangements for them to be hauled to a compost facility post-event where it is returned to the soil. Since 2012, IMEX has composted 130,053kg of organic material.

IMEX America food waste

Highlighting sustainable food and beverage options 

A third supply chain influence area occurred through the construction of the event menu. Water is a finite resource globally, but its conservation takes on an enhanced significance in Las Vegas. As a result, items that use less water to produce are highlighted at food outlets. For example, a turkey burger uses three times less water than a beef burger, and if just 2,000 attendees chose to select turkey over beef, over 2.5 million liters (about the volume of an Olympic-size swimming pool) of water could be saved.

Educating attendees through menu choices

Fruit IMEX America

In that spirit, IMEX uses its menu as an educational tool for attendees by highlighting vegetarian and waterwise options. Participants are encouraged to select menu items with reduced water impact. 

Reusable and refillable water bottles and coffee cups

We also encourage attendees to use refillable water bottles and coffee cups to reduce the impact of single-use plastics like disposable water bottles and non-recyclable coffee cups, whose thermal lining renders them difficult to recycle.

As you can see, food and beverage at IMEX America is a vital component of the show’s broader sustainability initiatives. We look forward to continuing to raise the bar in the future!

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About the author

Eric Wallinger is a Director of Sustainability at MeetGreen, whose focus on resources and the environment is complemented by 15+ years of experience in the events industry.

In 2010 Eric became a LEED Accredited Professional (O+M) with the U.S. Green Building Council.MeetGreen works with progressive global organizations integrating sustainable practices and producing conferences and events that deliver targeted business results. MeetGreen has helped greenify IMEX America since 2011.

Eric Wallinger