MCEC partners with uni students to help eliminate single-use plastic

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is partnering with RMIT University students to help eliminate problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic from the venue’s events and onsite cafés by 2025.

The partnership sees students participating in the RMIT Activator’s Impact Academy program receive mentoring by MCEC in a multidisciplinary sustainability project that aims to achieve this goal

A key aspect of the challenge was to apply a circular economy approach to developing a solution, in that they had to rethink the system to design out waste and keep materials and products in use.

MCEC sustainability manager and project coordinator Samantha Ferrier said: “It’s a unique opportunity for industry to solve real challenges by collaborating with university students.

“The students are highly self-motivated and passionate, and are taught to apply a design and systems thinking approach.

“Our team at MCEC is really excited to see the solutions that the students come up with, because eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic is something we’ve been working towards for some time.

“It’s important that the events industry is doing all we can to prevent waste by redesigning the system.”

The six RMIT students involved in the project are studying degrees in marketing, economics and finance or information systems.

RMIT Impact Academy participant Keeley Trifunovich said: “This program has helped me to discover that there are niche roles in every business, alike to Sam’s role of head of sustainability.”

Julie Stevens, partnerships manager at RMIT Activator, echoed the importance of a program connecting industry to students.

“Impact Academy is beneficial for both businesses and students, and can make a positive difference to our future workforce,” she said.

“Students gain valuable experience working with real industry challenges and developing professional skills in a real world setting while completing their university studies.

“Plus, businesses have direct access to a niche market of students to take on challenges that may provide new opinions/mindsets/skillsets.”

Featured image source: iStock/Harry Wedzinga