Disney is addressing environmental issues that face the meetings industry and offering solutions for meeting planners and groups looking to host more sustainable meetings.
The Walt Disney Company’s legacy on “green” issues spans more than 60 years, dating back to Walt Disney's personal commitment to being a good steward of the environment. While today much of the industry focuses on energy-efficient lighting, traditional recycling and the like, the Walt Disney World Resort takes its approach to the next level.
"We feel it’s important to share our commitment to environmentality with other meeting professionals," said George Aguel, senior vice president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "It’s a shared responsibility, and we take a great deal of pride in helping planners leverage the numerous programs we have in place that can touch every aspect of their experience. We’ve also received very positive feedback from attendees when they see our efforts.”
Meeting professionals seeking green venues will find them at the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney’s six dedicated convention resorts are among the 24 Disney-owned and -operated resorts in Florida to be certified as Green Lodges by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Each resort has been recognized for ‘green’ practices that reduce waste and conserve natural resources. Other environmentally friendly features include computerized energy management systems, recycling programs for guests and staff, low-flow shower heads, and a towel and linen reuse program
Beyond hotel certification, Disney’s commitment to the environment encompasses several other initiatives, including:
Energy Conservation – Disney convention centers feature automatic lights and CO2 sensors, which regulate air conditioning and reduce energy use. To further conserve power, light levels are kept low during event set ups and breakdowns. Lighting throughout all of the Disney resorts is being converted to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL’s), which will save about 20 million kilowatt hours annually.
Disney Harvest Food Program – Banquet food that has been prepared but not served is donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Disney contributes nearly 50,000 pounds of edible food to the local community each month. In addition, Disney’s “Culinary Conservation Committee,” compromised of representatives from purchasing, food and beverage, and animal programs, has been established to implement green purchasing practices and explore sustainable food purchases.
Floral Elements – Disney horticulturalists and florists partner to use greens from around the Walt Disney World Resort in floral arrangements, which reduce the need for shipping similar items in from other locations. The majority of the floral vendors working with Disney have received the VeriFlora seal of approval, which certifies that their flowers have been grown without harmful chemicals. Recycling also extends to floral displays as well, where the majority of props, vases and containers are made from reusable glass and plastic.
Educational Programs – Disney offers fun, informative and experiential programs that can be incorporated into a meeting agenda or made available as spouse/guest programs. Select Disney Institute programs take participants “behind the scenes” to see Disney Environmentality practices in action or to learn more about the art and science of horticulture and landscaping. Even Disney’s championship golf courses are dedicated to conservation and have been certified by Audubon International as Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuaries.
Recycling – In meeting rooms and other locations, in-house recycling is available to groups upon request in the form of marked containers for cans, bottles and paper. Recycling is also available in all Disney resort guest rooms, and each resort recycles less traditional items like room keys, which total over five million per year.