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AIIC joins the refill revolution!

The August 2019 PRIMS meeting in Montreal was a first: a plastic-free AIIC event.

On arrival at the PRIMS Montreal meeting, participants were presented with a plastic-free AIIC-branded reusable bottle, to refill at will. No single-use bottles of water were offered, and no garbage bags of empty plastic containers were left behind.

This could be the start of a new cleaner, healthier era for the conference interpreter profession.

Be part of the solution

Every year millions of tons of single-use plastic containers are discarded. Plastics don’t biodegrade: they break down into smaller particles and leach into the soil and groundwater. The chemicals produced poison the environment and accumulate in human tissues, where they may be linked to cancers, birth defects and other ailments.

While recycling plastic bottles does help, it is a complex and expensive process, and much of the waste still ends up in landfill.

Declaring the PRIMS Montreal meeting as plastic free is a small gesture, but we intend to make all PRIMS events plastic free, and then use our influence to make other AIIC events follow in our footprints: regional meetings, training events, group and committee meetings, perhaps the Assembly…

We also encourage members to keep their reusable bottles, and use it proudly wherever they work. AIIC will be visibly associated with not only professionalism and quality in interpreting, but with environmental responsibility too. 

It will also follow that AIIC members will carry some of this consciousness into the rest of their lives.

Photo: Sharona Wolkowicz


AIIC Vice President Jenny Fearnside-Bitsios said that the Executive Committee supports the initiative wholeheartedly.

“This is an excellent initiative from AIIC’s Private Market Sector group,” she said. “ExCo would like to expand this project across the Association, so that one day, soon, all AIIC events will be plastic free,”

“As a profession we can influence those we work with, and perhaps others in the conference industry will be swayed when they notice that the booths used by AIIC interpreters are clear of empty plastic bottles, and that they carry a ‘Plastic Free AIIC Event’ reusable bottle wherever they work.”

A global coalition

ExCo is also considering seriously a PRIMS proposal that AIIC joins the Plastic Pollution Coalition – a global alliance working toward a world free of plastic pollution. The Coalition promotes a “4 R” pledge:

  • Refuse disposable plastic whenever and wherever possible.
  • Reuse durable, non-toxic straws, utensils, containers, bottles, bags, and other everyday items.
  • Reduce your plastic footprint.
  • Recycle what you can’t refuse, reduce or reuse.

Next time you’re thirsty, think about the planet. Then, instead of buying a throwaway plastic bottle of water, head to the faucet with your “Plastic Free AIIC Event” reusable bottle. Doesn’t that fresh water taste a bit better knowing you’re helping make difference?

AIIC is currently looking into how to produce sustainable water bottles that are high quality, environmental, and reasonably priced – these will be available for members to order from the Secretariat.

Recommended citation format:
Private Market Sector Standing Committee,Communications officer. "AIIC joins the refill revolution!". January 8, 2020. Accessed July 2, 2020. <>.