The hashtag #FutureDecoded trended on Twitter during the event

Microsoft cracks down on plastics at Future Decoded

Microsoft is cracking down on plastic at this year’s Future Decoded as part of a plan to host the most sustainable event to date.

The company is tackling single-use materials during the two-day event, Microsoft’s biggest annual event in the UK, and is urging people to take reusable water bottles.

Microsoft said it is “committed to enabling a sustainable future by empowering every person and every organisation on the planet to thrive in a resource-constrained world through the use of technology like AI”.

Thousands of business leaders, journalists and technology fans will flock to the ExCeL in London on October 1 and 2 for Future Decoded, which this year will focus on how businesses can use technology to improve how they work. Speakers include astronauts Tim Peake and Helen Sharman; Christian Horner, Team Principal of the Formula One Red Bull team; Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK; and Lucas Joppa, Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Officer.

Microsoft is encouraging visitors to take reusable water bottles and use re-fill stations located throughout the venue. All coffee cups will be 100% recyclable, including compostable stirrers and recyclable sleeves, while plants used around the event will be recycled and replanted.

Cindy Rose

Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose will be speaking at Future Decoded

China cups will be provided in smaller meetings and the drinks reception will use glass bottles, which will be recycled by the venue. The AI Juice Bar, which offers free drinks to Future Decoded attendees, will also be using glass bottles, with any leftover juice donated to City Harvest. The charity delivers high-quality, nourishing food to organisations that provide meals to vulnerable people, including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, children’s programmes, centres for the elderly and refuges for women experiencing domestic violence.

Microsoft will take a digital-first approach to signage, to reduce the use of materials. Any roller banners that are used throughout the event will be reused, along with the printed material and cartridges. The ExCeL will turn PVC banners into traffic cones as part of its recycling programme.

Most of the materials on the keynote set will be reused by Microsoft, but those that aren’t will be given to the Children’s Scrapstore charity in Bristol – a charity dedicated to helping improve play and creative opportunities for children, young people and adults. Additionally, the larger sections of carpet on the staging will be retained and reused at smaller events.

The carpets from the Future Decoded expo will be sent to one of three locations – Waregem in Belgium, Czestochowa in Poland or Klobuck in Poland. From there, Waregem recycles the carpet using a thermal conversion process to turn the carpet into plastic pellets. These are then sold to manufacturers who use blow-moulding technology. Czestochowa and Klobuck clean and cut the carpets for reuse in furniture manufacturing or home and garden products, such as door and bathroom mats, mattresses, sofas and armchairs.

Young men and women sitting on a sofa and armchair in a flat

Some of the carpets will be used to make sofas and armchairs

The plan for Future Decoded builds on Microsoft’s commitment to sustainability. The company has been carbon neutral since 2012 and is one of the largest purchasers of renewable energy in the US. Microsoft Surface and Xbox devices are made with an emphasis on eco-friendly materials, while $50 million has been invested in the AI for Earth programme that puts artificial intelligence in the hands of those working on the front lines to address sustainability challenges.