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C'Mon Cannes, Clean Up Your Act



In a year when ocean plastics and sustainability were a massive theme, Cheil's Global CCO Malcolm Poynton asks whether Cannes Lions could be doing more to lessen the festival's environmental impact

C'Mon Cannes, Clean Up Your Act

How gratifying to see 'Trash Isles' by AMV BBDO being honoured at Cannes with two Grands Prix. The issue of plastic waste has been slow to rise to the top of the global environmental agenda. Unfortunately, like one of those single use plastic bottles that make up the 8m tonnes of waste dumped into the oceans each year, it continues to bob along, with a lot of chat but not enough action. Hopefully, the attention this campaign is now receiving will help galvanise people into finally doing something about it.

But while the Cannes jurors did their bit to help raise awareness about the problems this waste product causes to wildlife and to our health, the Cannes organisers could be doing much more.

Organising an event on the scale of the Cannes festival every year is, of course, going to leave a considerable carbon footprint. But there are ways that Cannes Lions owner Ascential can minimise its impact on the environment. A good place to start would be with some of its branded merchandise. The number of small single-use water bottles handed out in the Palais (sponsored by Peru in a bid to increase the number of firms filming in the country), didn’t remotely chime with the ethos behind Cannes’ new and laudable Sustainable Development Goals Lion.

Two slurps that was it; the plastic bottles were chucked before replenishments were quickly stacked into the fridge. Noticeably, there were no bins that were explicitly for recyclable material. In my estimation, they must have gone through tens of thousands of these bottles during the week, all of which will end up in landfill or in the oceans causing precisely the sort of problems that the 'Trash Isles' campaign was trying to highlight.

While Cannes has done a good job of ditching the half-tonne of printed material that delegates are burdened with at registration, free newspapers were just as plentiful as the water bottles at Cannes. Most trade magazines and many big news titles gave away loads of copies every day, most of which went unread and all of which went unrecycled, because there’s nowhere other than rubbish bins to dump them. 

Many conferences now ask delegates to return plastic lanyards when they’re done with them, but there was no such opportunity at Cannes. A few may be taken home as mementos, but most, like the signage along the beach and the Croisette, will end up in the bin.

Of course companies want to promote themselves at Cannes, and naturally, like most event organisers, Ascential makes the most of every revenue stream it can find. But there has to be a thought for sustainability and the environment in the process. Balancing the logistics of putting on a global conference with environmental responsibility isn’t easy, but in this instance the solution can be found in the 3Rs that schoolkids learn: reduce, reuse, recycle. 

Cannes organisers and sponsors should think carefully about the amount of printed material handed out; recycling bins should be everywhere (surely a great sponsorship opportunity?); and delegates should be given a reusable water bottle (another sponsorship opportunity) they can refill and take home at the end of the week. 

I hope Ascential will find new ways to tread more lightly on the environment before Cannes 2019. So c'mon Cannes, take inspiration from some of the Grand Prix winners and commit to a carbon neutral festival in the future.

view more - The Sustainability Channel
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Cheil Worldwide, Thu, 28 Jun 2018 15:43:46 GMT