SMG Sustainability Donation Program at Huntington Convention Center Delivers Recycled Products to Community-based Organizations
SMG has been busy helping the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland amp up its sustainability goals by partnering with show organizers and exhibitors to cut back on event waste while giving back to the local community.
To help the HCCC reduce its environmental impact by diverting more recyclable items from landfill, the facility operator recently unveiled its Sustainability Donation Program, a green initiative that provides clients, exhibitors and contractors a simple and environmentally friendly solution to reduce the amount of waste they generate at an HCCC event.
By serving as a resource for placing recyclable products from vendors, exhibitors and other organizations as part of its overall Reduce, Reuse and Recycle initiative, SMG has assisted the HCCC in achieving a 55 percent landfill diversion rate.
“The SMG Cleveland program’s goal is to take items that would have been simply thrown away and placed into landfills and then turn those items into a positive change for our community,” explained Anastasia Volsko, operations manager at the HCCC.
She continued, “SMG has been testing the program since the end of the Republican National Convention in 2016 and Levy, our food service partner, has had a donation program for perishable foods for several years (but) SMG formally rolled out the donation program earlier this fall.”
The program made its official debut just in time for Content Marketing World, held Sept. 4-7 at the HCCC, from which SMG received 523 lbs. in donations, including shelving, coffee tables, books and tchotchkes that went to Habitat for Humanity Restore.
Modeled after similar programs at other sustainability-minded convention facilities, the donation program partners show organizers with members of the SMG events team to inform exhibitors and attendees about the program and encourage them to participate. Information is also included in the exhibitor kit and advertised onsite.
According to Volsko, SMG collaborates on a place to locate the donations station and provides stickers to mark large donations that can’t be moved by hand, after which the HCCC operations team begins working to secure a home for all items left behind.
After its Diversified Brands Division training session for 220 employees, held July 30-August 3 at the HCCC, Sherwin Williams worked with SMG to recycle a lion’s share of its leftover building and painting supplies items, including more than 4,500 lbs. of products that were donated to Habitat for Humanity Restore and more than 2,200 pounds of building materials, including stain, waterproofing, paint, landscaping brick, drywall and trim donated to the Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church.
In addition, the paint company also painted and donated youth furniture sets to Habitat for Humanity Restore.
“Sherwin Williams planned the donation of leftover products and children’s furniture in advance,” Volsko explained. “Once onsite, they informed SMG and we worked together to maximize the donation and the placement of the donated products.”
She continued, “SMG Operations Coordinator Diane Samples worked the phones and through help from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste district, we were able to find homes for almost everything else that was left behind, including decking, drywall, waterproof sealer and pavers.”
Besides planning to donate an additional 2,500 pounds of supplies from the event to other non-profit organizations, SMG recently donated 1,900 lbs. of leftover carpeting from an HCCC event to a local theater group, as well as 600 lbs. of pre-prepared food from the School Nutrition Association of Ohio convention to the Edward Keating Center.
“SMG will actively work and advertise this program to any client that is having an event in our facility,” said Volsko.
She continued, “For example, SMG recently worked with the BFG Garden and Growers Expo to donate 18,367 pounds of goods – everything from hummingbird feeders and snow shovels to shelving units and plant pots. Almost all these items went to Habitat for Humanity Restore. The BFG exhibitors and show management were very excited to help with the program!”
SMG also provides a biannual donation from the building’s lost and found to the Salvation Army, including clothing, coats, gloves, umbrellas and cold-weather gear left behind by the more than 400 thousand annual visitors to the HCCC and the adjacent Global Center for Health Innovation.
A LEED Gold facility, the HCCC and its team work daily to reduce its environmental impact, conserve resources, implement recycling initiatives both internally and for organizations hosting events there, and uses environmentally friendly products and practices.
A comprehensive co-mingled, single-stream recycling program works to divert waste from landfills to recycling centers via reducing, reusing and recycling paper, cardboard, metal, aluminum, glass and plastic.
“Ideally, we would love to help all of our event organizers to realize a balanced approach to economic impact, environmental responsibility and social influence,” Volsko said. “The SMG team is seeing more frequent requests for sustainability reports from show producers and the focus on ensuring that events are ‘green’ is becoming a standard practice in the industry.”
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