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Plastic fantastic: why experiential needs to be more sustainable

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As the climate crisis has risen in the global consciousness, many of us are trying to make a change by taking action. The team at The Producers (PrettyGreen's experiential and events agency) is starting 2020 with an ambition to tackle and change the ingrained habits of experiential agencies to ensure we are helping to tackling the global issue.

The events and experiential business is based around creating temporary environments for events and brands, whether that be a brand activation, festival, exhibition, expo or party, however the temporary nature of the events industry has led the creators of such events to use disposable and temporary materials that are having a significant impact on the environment.

The RAW Foundation has found that “an overwhelming 72% of plastic packaging is not recovered at all. 40% is landfilled and 32% leaks out of collection systems, leaking chemicals into surrounding habitats, fresh water and marine water systems.”

But don’t panic, it’s not all bad and there are big changes that many brands & agencies are making using The RAW Foundation’s pillars of 'Remove, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle'.

Remove

While removing plastics from our events is key, The Producers wanted to help like-minded brands to remove the litter locally and is proud to be working with the Canal & River Trust to encourage local action and develop The Plastics Challenge in 2020. The Canal & River Trust are trying to localise the global issue of plastics to generate significant change. In 2019, The Canal and River Trust Plastics Challenge report looked into the impact of littering on our canals and rivers on the overall global plastics issue and they found that “around 80% of the plastics and litter found in the oceans is being dropped inland and we know a vast majority of this is recyclable or could be re-used in creative and innovative ways."

Reduce

Some brands are already making huge strides such as Lego who have committed to make all Lego bricks sustainably by 2030. Lego sustainability pledges will vastly reduce their plastic footprint which is an incredible achievement already in action.

With tech solutions at our fingertips creating experiences with less wastage has never been easier with digital re-skinning of builds and removing the vast amounts of paper or plastic giveaways is a conscious step that The Producers is taking in planning campaigns. In the world of brand experience, modular and multi-use kit solutions need to have a bigger focus. So often we create incredible ‘one-off’ experiences which could be toured or re-purposed for future and we’re pleased to see some of our core clients share this vision and it also makes sense commercially.

Reuse and recycle

Our most successful experiential campaigns are when we have created an experience that works with a 1-9-90 focus which means that it can be used by PR and social channels as well as delivering multiple engagements rather than creating separate campaigns – this requires both client and agency to integrate which can be more work but reaps the benefits.

Brands with issues on packaging and waste in their delivery cycle are also able to drive change and leading the charge are IKEA with its People & Planet Positive initiative which will remove all single use plastic and even Amazon is making commitments to become carbon neutral by 2040 in their Amazon sustainability reports.

The Producers' pledge for 2020? To ensure every campaign it creates has a sustainability commitment. It is challenging all its team - from creative to technical production - to build better and create consciously.

Jessica Hargreaves, group MD at The Producers - the experiential division within the PrettyGreen Group.

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