Ahead of the Curve: Exploring the Future of Sustainable Experiences

Q&A with Project Director, Vicky Nutt

In the world of BIGGER and BOLDER, it’s quite surprising to see the experience industry adopting a ‘less is more’ approach in recent years. From cutting down event waste to reducing carbon emissions, event professionals are answering the call for memorable experiences with a lighter environmental footprint.

As agencies continue to navigate their sustainability journies, it’s clear that this isn’t just a passing trend, but a continuous commitment to their people, brands and planet. 

As a founding member of Isla, Smyle proudly maintains ISO 14001:2015 (Enviornmental Management) and ISO 20121:2012 (Sustainable Events) certifications and continues its journey toward carbon neutral and B-corp status. From experience design to delivery, Project Director Vicky Nutt shares Smyle’s unique sustainability journey and visions for the future.

What is Smyle’s sustainability commitment?

Our commitment is rooted in our vision ‘to lead in sustainability management, amplify positive change through engagement with all interested parties, innovate best practice and leave a meaningful legacy.’

This vision ensures our core values and aspirations will continue to align with the expectations of our clients, partners and wider community and hold us accountable as a forward-thinking and responsible organisation. Moreover, it inspires us to strive for excellence and leave a lasting legacy we can be proud of.

We’re in the process of understanding our baseline for 2023-2024 to formulate a plan to hit 50% reductions in emissions by 2030 and ultimately be net zero by 2050. This vision will guide our commitment to ensure Smyle not only hits our long-term goals but leaves a positive impact on the world.

How do the agency’s environmental goals guide its resource and material choices?

As we work towards zero waste to landfill by 2030, we’re taking a much harder look at our approach to suppliers, materials, and waste management.

Sourcing sustainable materials and resources can feel daunting at first due to limited availability or higher costs, which is why we have begun engaging suppliers at the contractual stage. Smyle works closely with suppliers to overcome these constraints and ensure a reliable supply of sustainable options.

Transitioning to more sustainable options may initially seem cost-prohibitive, but in many cases, can lead to long-term savings. For example, investing in energy-efficient equipment or reusable materials can reduce operational expenses over time. By getting the data and collaboration commitment from the offset, we can rate our suppliers and materials to ensure they meet our standards.

We are also aware that a big proportion of emissions comes from using toxic materials, and have invested in the materials council to test new project items and their longevity. By taking a mindful and selective approach to our suppliers and resources, we’re another step closer to meeting our goals for 2030.

How does Smyle engage clients to meet sustainability goals?

Engaging clients to meet sustainability goals requires a combination of education, collaboration, and innovative solutions. Aligning values and producing projects with low environmental impact will always be a top priority.

Our collaboration with Meta at the World Economic Forum is a great example of how sustainable design doesn’t have to mean compromise. Together we developed a comprehensive strategy that kept sustainability at its core with a first-of-its-kind two-story pavilion that was as beautiful as it was responsible.

Collaborating with clients who share our values and are up to the challenge has led to some of our favourite thought-leading projects.

How will the agency’s sustainability efforts evolve in the next few years?

Looking ahead, I’m proud of Smyle’s journey in sustainability. We’re making strides in minimising our environmental impact and engaging stakeholders. Moving forward, I hope we continue to build on these achievements and strive for even greater impact and influence.

I’m particularly excited about finding opportunities to innovate and pioneer sustainable event management practices. Imagine if we could develop new technologies or methodologies that revolutionise the industry, making events not only more eco-friendly but also more engaging and memorable. Whether it’s through leveraging renewable energy sources, implementing zero-waste strategies, or creating immersive virtual experiences, there’s immense potential for us to lead the charge in redefining what sustainable events look like.

By working together with industry peers, policymakers, and advocacy groups, we can drive systemic change and create a ripple effect that extends far beyond our operations. While the path ahead may not always be clear, I’m confident that with our passion, creativity, and dedication, Smyle can continue to push boundaries, inspire others, and make a meaningful difference in the world of sustainability.