ISO Show

Sustainability In Events: The ISO Show Episode 38 – What is ISO 20121?


The Events industry in the UK is worth £39.1 billion – accounting for 30% of the UK visitor economy. This includes music events, sporting events, exhibitions and various festivals and cultural events.

It’s awesome that this is so great for the economy, and for people getting together to have a great time, however, the sad fact is that the lack of sustainability in events these events is having a devastating impact on our planet.

According to the stats from WRAP – Many events only recycle around 15% of waste from events – the rest goes to landfill

The Music Industry alone created 23,500 Tonnes of waste a year, and only 32% of that is recycled

Recognising that something needed to be done about this wasteful industry a standard for sustainability events was created by the events industry for the events industry known as ISO 20121.

Just to give you a bit of background, ISO 20121 is applicable to any size organization that either runs or hosts events, and wishes to improve the sustainability of their events.  The standard provides a framework to establish, an event sustainability management system, which not only helps to reduce the negative impacts of events, but also capitalizes on the more positive impacts through improved planning and processes.

So this standard started out as a British standard – BS 8901 in 2009. This was when we first got involved with implementing the standard for events companies and venues that hosted events.  But it wasn’t until the Olympic Games 2012 in London, that the standard really made its mark.

I think this really helped to push the topic of sustainability to the top of events management companies agenda’S.

I understand that one of the key aims of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012, was to leave behind a positive legacy in terms of economic, environmental and social benefits, with minimum material waste, energy consumption, or strain on local communities.

One of the many questions we get asked is about the scope of certification

So let me just talk you through the options here:-

Venue – i.e. Wembley Stadium

Organiser – Events Management company or just a company that organises or hosts a lot of events.

Want to learn more about ISO 20121? Take a look at our Steps to Success.

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