22-23 report and results
A 2nd year of measuring our carbon footprint
What we did:
Over the last year we have continued to measure the expanding number of UK events and new US shows that Raccoon organise.
There have been wins in the UK events with the ‘carbon footprint per visitor’ score reducing way beyond the targets set last year. However, we have found the US market more challenging than the UK.
Each year the accuracy of our measurements is improving and we are building more data on how we can reduce our footprint year on year. We have a number of initiatives and partnerships in place now (e.g. Earth Runs) that are helping us to raise awareness and reduce our footprint, as well as offset in a sustainable way.
- The Office
- Working From Home
- Business Travel
- Our Websites
- Our Merchandise
- Our Events, which included:
- The Venue
- Our Suppliers
- The Exhibitors
- The Visitors
We have made significant carbon reductions on nearly all of our events compared to previous years. Figures based on average carbon footprint per visitor (kg CO2e).
How the results compare
In 2021/22, the average carbon footprint per visitor was: 22kg of CO2e.*
In 2022/23, the average carbon footprint per visitor was: 18kg of CO2e.
In 2023/24, the plan is to reduce it below 16kg of CO2e.
*Due to an improvement in how we calculate visitor numbers, this number has changed since previous updates.
In 2021/22, there were no US-based events.
In 2022/23, the average carbon footprint per visitor was: 41kg of CO2e.
In 2023/24, the plan is to reduce it below 37kg of CO2e.
With the help of our carbon auditor and sustainability consultant, we have created a number of actions for 23/24.
The actions are split into different categories, those that may be small but are important, Such as making sure the office is run on renewable energy as well as lowering team travel emissions, to those that are harder to change but have a large impact overall e.g. visitor travel emissions.
The aim is to encourage visitors, exhibitors, venues and suppliers to strive to reduce their emissions each year. Raccoon can influence all these people by creating a new ‘normal’.
Where we need help:
The vast majority of Raccoon’s footprint comes from visitors and exhibitors. We are going to reduce barriers for these groups to make carbon action easier. But we cannot force them to change. That is why we need collaboration from our customers but also the industry.
What we need to improve:
There is no shortage of possibilities to improve. From collecting better data from shows to allowing more time to research low-carbon options. As a business, we aim to be transparent in our limitations but due to the amount of carbon reduction needed and an ever-looming deadline, we need to focus on progress over perfection.
The new shows in the US will likely be a challenge too with larger distances and venues that perhaps are not as advanced as UK venues when it comes to climate action. Industry frameworks are coming but need to be implemented at greater speed so it becomes easier to track progress and know what needs to be done in order to be ‘net zero’.
Our aim is to be net carbon in 2025 with the UK business, but with the US business we will aim to be net carbon by 2027 – currently the infrastructure and venues in the USA are not set up to focus on sustainability, hence the slower progression with the US business.
Measuring an event is hard, there are lots of things to consider. We are constantly improving the way we gather data and reviewing retrospectively.
Carbon Neutral & Net Zero
One area of confusion we have seen in the industry is knowing the difference between carbon neutral and net zero.
If a company states they are carbon neutral, typically they are carrying on with business as usual and once a year paying a small sum of money to an offsetting company.
If a company states they are aiming to be net zero, they are making changes to how they operate so that their very existence results in less emissions going into the atmosphere. They will keep on reducing their carbon footprint year on year until it is near impossible to reduce it any further. At this point, they will pay for offsetting projects that actively remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Zero emissions are what the world needs so encourage your company to do the same.
This graph kind of shows the difference in emissions between carbon-neutral and net-zero.
Away from Carbon:
Raccoon is a high growth company that brings together people from all over the world, to encourage more time outdoors and active lifestyles. The UK, and the rest of the world, needs this. Getting outside, climbing a hill, getting a sweat on is good for us and it is likely going to be a very low carbon activity compared to alternatives. The more we connect with nature the more we feel inclined to save it.
With this in mind, Raccoon has a responsibility to get those who wouldn’t normally consider heading into the woods out exploring, using events to create a ripple effect of positive change.
Raccoon Media Group are actively encouraging exhibitors who have a sustainable message to participate in their events and are actively partnering with organisations in order to support sustainability and other good causes. You can view the full 22-23 ESG annual report here.
Raccoon Events ditches aisle carpets in net-zero pledge
Raccoon Events, the award-winning health and well-being events company behind shows such as The National Running Show, The National Cycling Show, The National Outdoor Expo, and The National Snow Show, has announced it will remove aisle carpets from all future events.
This is the first of many initiatives from Raccoon Events as they strive to become net-zero by 2025, announced by CEO Mike Seaman at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2021.
Mike commented: “When I announced our ambitious target at COP26, we were still in the process of having our carbon footprint measured. This is an in-depth analysis of all areas of our business to identify where we can make carbon reductions, and I’m thrilled to see we could save over 15,100kg CO2 e just from removing aisle carpets from our shows!”
Although they can be recycled, it’s not easy, and the carpet industry still produces significant carbon emissions. Mike explained: “We initially looked at recycling, but from manufacturing to installing and removing the carpet and then transporting it from venue to venue, it still added up to a significant footprint. So in the end, we decided to get rid of them completely.”
“Of course, we’re looking to our venue partners to come up with a sustainable yet comfortable alternative to make sure our visitors still have a great experience,” he added, “we’re looking forward to seeing what they come up with but in the meantime we will be pushing forward to remove all aisle carpets at our shows..”
To measure its carbon footprint, Raccoon Events partnered with ecollective, a carbon emissions analysis firm. Charlie Cotton, Founder of ecollective, said: “When you think of carbon footprints and emissions, you normally don’t think of carpets, but to tackle the climate crisis, no area of a business should be out of scope. When we worked through the data and presented it back to the Raccoon Events team, the numbers spoke for themselves.”
Raccoon Events set up a Sustainability Working Group to work with suppliers and exhibitors to reduce their carbon footprint. Event carpeting was one of the first areas they focussed on.
Matthew Lambert, Director of Operations at Raccoon Events, said: “When we got the data back from ecollective, we jumped at the chance to make a real difference. So when visitors flock to the National Running Show South in May, they’ll take part in a much more sustainable show experience. Not only have we removed aisle carpets, but our ambassador teams all wear T-shirts made from recycled plastic bottles produced by our partners Scimitar.”
“In addition, we removed over 20,000 plastic merchandise bags, discouraged the use of single-use printed materials, and swapped our printed show guides with a digital alternative. We even replaced our VIP gift bags with ones made from sustainable and biodegradable jute.”
Raccoon Events is calling on the rest of the event industry to follow its lead and assess their supply chains. Matt continued: “We want to challenge every supplier and partner to join us in focusing on minimising their carbon footprint and offsetting any emissions that can’t be reduced. We’ve also given our visitors the option to offset their emissions from travelling to the venue. We want our guests to feel confident that whenever they visit one of our events, it’s as sustainable as we can make it. Even down to the (lack of) carpet under their feet.”
Raccoon Events sets out ambitious net zero plan at COP26
Raccoon Events’ CEO Mike Seaman spoke at COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference on Wednesday (10 November), setting out a pathway for a more sustainable industry. Speaking at the event, Seaman put forward a strategy that emphasised the need for forward motion and a conscious approach to meet the industry’s net zero aspirations.
Raccoon Events, which employs 22 staff in the UK and US, has set the ambitious goal to get the company and its UK and US events to net zero by 2025. Seaman spoke as part of a panel discussion about the JMIC event industry net zero pledge and explained that the first step in the company’ process was to set up a sustainability working group comprising internal and external organisations including ecollective, sustainable travel partner Ecolibrium and Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol). Together the consortium is working to assess and reduce the environmental impact of Raccoon Events’ own business practices, its suppliers and exhibitors and to develop tools to support visitors in reducing their environmental impact before exploring offsetting opportunities.
Speaking at COP26 Seaman set out that the company is currently finalising the ‘measurement’ phase of the plan: “It’s quite frustrating as a small business that just wants to act, but actually the measurement phase is the most important and we have put a lot of time, effort and money into measuring the total impact of our events. We’ve now measured our first two events and are already actioning the ‘reduce’ part of the strategy.
Seaman continued: “There is a lot of fear out there – fear of costs and fear of getting it wrong. This can sometimes cause paralysis – if something feels too big and too hard then it’s almost impossible to tackle. I certainly don’t have all the answers and as a business we’ve had to accept that whatever solution we come up with will be an imperfect one. But we didn’t want to sit still either, so we made a collective decision that we would just start, do something now, learn as we go and keep evolving.
“What we have learned so far gives us insight that we can share with our suppliers and stakeholders so that we can follow a pattern of measuring and then reducing the impact of our actions. We then develop a process of continuous improvement, every year measuring and reducing until we get to 2025. Once we get to 2025, we will then offset whatever the remaining balance is, but we continue the process of measuring and reducing every year and the hope is that we continue to reduce the amount we have to offset.”
Seaman continued: “I’m sure our strategy isn’t perfect and the danger of speaking on a platform like this is that people might pick holes and criticize the mistakes you make along the way. That is inevitable but my main focus is to create a business that has an ethical consideration for the planet and I think we are starting to get towards that.”