The 379-room Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, Calif., has launched a new reduced-waste conferences program that seeks to shrink the environmental footprint of meetings that take place at Portola by way of minimizing food- and paper-based garbage.
For participating groups, Portola has agreed to promote the program to meeting attendees through its group reservation system; make recommendations for environmentally friendly vendors; source organic and sustainable ingredients from local farmers and vendors; utilize china, glassware and silverware instead of disposable cups and utensils; track diverted waste on a daily basis across its kitchen, housekeeping and banquet departments; compost pre- and post-consumer waste; separate recyclable and compostable materials to keep them from going to the landfill; and provide meeting planners with a post-meeting recap that summarizes their group's waste-reduction achievements.
In return, meeting planners must agree to confirm menu selections 14 days before the meeting to allow for the selection and purchase of sustainable ingredients; use biodegradable badges and conference materials, or offer an opportunity for attendees to return badges so they can be reused at future events; use A/V equipment for presentations instead of printed handouts; and educate/encourage attendees to practice sustainable behaviors at the meeting, such as using reusable water bottles instead of disposable ones.
"Reduced-waste conferences are a great way to communicate to meeting attendees the importance to conserve natural resources," said Portola general manager Janine Chicourrat. "We partner with the meeting planners to implement a variety of green practices, and we are able to communicate to attendees how they can contribute. A great example of this is offering reusable aluminum-can water bottles instead of plastic bottles. We host groups of over 1,000 attendees, so the reduction of plastic water bottles over a three-day event can be in excess of 4,000 bottles."
For four more properties with their own green initiatives, visit NorthstarMeetingsGroup.com.