Sandton Convention Centre, which is host to upward of 500 000 thousand people who come through its doors annually as exhibitors, visitors, delegates, business people and staff, is on a consistent sustainability drive to reduce its overall carbon footprint.
Shaun Bird, GM of Sandton Convention Centre, says, “Environmental sustainability at every level is key for us. As part of the Tsogo Sun group, we adhere stringently to our environmental policy and we are committed to integrating best environmental practices into our core business strategy and achieving balance between economic, social and environmental results.”
The Sandton Convention Centre’s policy ensures compliance with legal requirements and best practices; prevention of pollution to air, water and land; waste management; conservation of natural resources; biodiversity management; buy-in from suppliers, contractors and visitors encouraged; positive involvement in the local community; implementation of an environmental system that will make the policy available, train staff members, manage environmental risks and impact, set environmental objectives, targets and plans, and measure and monitor for consistent improvement.
Waste management starts on site with a waste separation area that is manned full-time, separating waste into recyclable – paper, carton, tins, plastic, glass, aluminium, and fluorescent light bulbs – and non-recyclable material. A specialist outsourced waste company then collects and manages all the waste effectively.
Electricity and water usage is managed with a range of systems and sensors to ensure reduced consumption throughout the building, such as lights out when not in use, environmentally friendly dry cleaning of carpets, a building management system that ensures air conditioners and chillers switch off at certain temperatures, automated water control sensors, escalators switching off when not in use, and careful attention to potential wastage at every water or electricity point. When furniture and furnishings are replaced, the discarded items are donated to under-privileged crèches and schools to ensure ongoing re-use of items.
Bottled spring water for conference delegates and other visitors is now being provided in glass rather than plastic bottles, ensuring a reduction in single use plastic bottle consumption.
In the Sandton Convention Centre kitchens, Executive Chef and President of the SA Chefs Association, James Khoza is also intensively managing sustainability. He notes that with Tsogo Sun’s strategy to ensure high standards of sustainability in the kitchens throughout the group, Sandton Convention Centre has put various practices in place:
- A Green Team that meets regularly to review or implement new group sustainability directives
- Sustainability aligned purchasing, with suppliers engaged on traceability detail, buying only locally sourced ingredients, buying seasonal ingredients, and ordering according to event forecast to avoid over ordering
- Menus are designed to embrace sustainability initiatives
- Buying SASSI approved seafood and fish
- Use of more vegetable with proteins on the buffets and avoiding over-catering on buffets
- Producing a single menu for daily conference delegates to reduce wastage
- Oil removed by an oil management partner
- More natural fats from proteins used in cooking proteins
- Palm oil is no longer bought because of its negative environmental impact
- Ingredients are used in their entirety and other uses found for offcuts
- Leftover food goes to the staff canteen
- Waste is separated in the kitchen and removed by Bokashi recycling partner
- Only biodegradable packaging material is used
- No plastic straws are used and biodegradable straws are only given if asked for
- Energy saving lamps and single ovens are used
- Cold room and fridge seals are maintained
- PVC strip curtains are used in cold rooms to minimise cold air loss
- Lights are switched off when not needed
- Pre-heating times are reduced
- Vegetable refreshing under running water is avoided
Says Bird, “These multi-faceted sustainability initiatives are having a positive impact on our business and on the environment, while also ensuing that our collective mindset at Sandton Convention Centre is becoming more and more aware of the need to be vigilant and to be constantly on the lookout for new and better ways to reduce our footprint on this earth. Environmentalist and businessman Jochen Zeitz reminded us that ‘Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.’ We’re committed to that – and to ensuring that every delegate, exhibitor, and visitor experience here is world-class.”