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The Lanyard Problem

Here are a few environmentally-friendly options and tips on how to keep them out landfills

By Ron Johnson

Open up that desk drawer (you know, the one reserved for conference paraphernalia) and count the lanyards—that is, if you can unravel them.

But, really, drawer dysfunction is the least of your (mine, everyone’s) problem; it’s the lanyards, or more accurately, the waste they produce, that we need worry about most.

According to a recent MPI study, 70 million people attend meetings and events in Canada every year. That’s a lot of lanyards. So figuring out what to do with them would be one step closer to eliminating plastic and cords from landfill.   

"Most lanyards are made from polypropylene, standard plastic, non-biodegradable, non-recyclable—stuff that will be here when your great, great grandkids are around," says Kemp Edwards, owner of Ethical Profiling, an environmentally responsible product sourcing company in Vancouver.

Green options include bioplastics, bamboo and cork. In addition, Edwards suggests PET—a resin derived from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.

"As a material to work with, I like it because it actually creates a purpose for what would otherwise be waste," Edwards explains.

Another option is going back to basics, says Ottawa-based Sandra Wood, CMP, annual meeting manager, Canadian Medical Association.

"I always go back to the 3 R's and the first word on that timeless mantra is Reduce. So that’s what I’ve done, I’m not using them," states Wood, also a board member of the Green Meeting Industry Council. "I just use generic string, and then re-use it next time."

How do you handle the lanyard problem? Share your thoughts and ideas with us at IgniteMeetingsConnect.

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