Sustainable exhibiting – the future is now…
Your brand isn’t disposable – and neither should your exhibition stand be…
But what does ‘sustainable’ really mean? The Oxford English Dictionary describe it as “causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time”. Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?
The amount of waste generated at exhibitions and events is a hot topic right now, so we thought we’d explore some of the ways that the industry is addressing this, from a stand building and materials point of view, our own exhibition logistics and commitment to reducing our environmental impact wherever we can. As an exhibitor, some small steps can add up to a big change – but only if a sufficient proportion of exhibitors buy into it, whether by choice or by show organisers imposing new rules and regulations to force the hand of companies.
Exhibition Stand Materials
According to estimates by ‘Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy’ 90% of the conventional materials used for stand building is dumped in the mixed residual waste at the end of a show. (Source: beMatrix Sustainability Charter) This is a shocking figure, even more so because a very large proportion of this waste is avoidable.
What is a “sustainable product? “Sustainable products are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal”. (Source: Wikipedia) – one of the key parts of this sentence is the mention of ‘life cycle’. Everything has a life cycle, one of the easiest ways to reduce environmental is to ensure that wherever possible the products you use are reusable time and again – thus extending their life-cycle. Single use, wooden framed traditional style exhibition stands should be consigned to where they belong – to history.
New materials, new manufacturing techniques, innovative new designs are now all part of the tool kit at your disposal when it comes to exhibiting. Whatever stand you decide on, there will always be a number of options of materials you can use. Consider the environmental properties, the energy-efficiency, ability to recycle, and of course, the ease of transport – if all these are considered during the design process, there will be a huge difference made to the overall environmental impact of your stand. Whether you choose to look for solutions manufactured from recycled materials, or are more focussed on using materials that can be recycled after their useful life, exhibition stand companies are responding to consumer demand and it bodes well for the exhibition industry that they are being so proactive in so many areas.
See the bottom of this blog for links to find out what some of the stand companies that we work with are doing to help ensure everyone’s future is sustainable.
Let’s explore a few simple steps to help reduce wastage at exhibitions and shows.
Do you come here often? Reusable – plan ahead
The perfect solution fo comapnies who exhibit frequently. Reusable stands in bespoke cases with no disposable packaging are a great long term way of reducing the impact of your exhibiting. Reusing the same packing box ensures your stand is packed safely (reducing the need for expensive reprints if items are damaged between shows or during packing), plus they are packed as small as possible which has a positive impact when it comes to shipping too.
Plan for different sizes – for example a modular stand can be configured in many different ways to fit the floor space available, with minimal additional materials needing adding.
Flooring: Can your flooring be made from a reusable or an eco-alternative material? Is there a click together solution for your stand? Ask your stand builder or please contact us for advice if you are unsure of the options.
Stand Materials: many of the modern modular stand frame systems boast excellent credentials when it comes to the frames themselves but also consider the printed panels that overlay the framework.
The 3 most common options are:
• Vinyl panels with magnetic fixings – the hardest wearing of the options, giving outstanding reusability, they can simply be wiped down, rolled up and packed away until the next time you need them. Vinyl can be recycled, but not all services will take them – due to toxic gases emitted when it is melted down, so you would need to find a specialist recycling company willing to accept them if you were committed to this action.
• Foamboard or Foamex inserts – these panels are not recyclable and are very susceptible to damage. They cannot be rolled or folded, meaning that they are delicate and difficult to transport.
• Fabric sleeve that covers the framework. The fabric sleeve offers the smallest environmental impact as they pack away considerably smaller than the alternatives, can be washed and reused many times over.
Modular stand manufacturers are also investigating new materials that could be used in the future, keeping an eye on recyclability, impact of production, ease of use and transportation as well as the durability for each panel.
For the occasional exhibitor – Considered hiring your stand & furniture?
You can hire entire exhibition stands as well as the additional items that make your stand come to life. We have a selection of modular stands that can be reconfigured to fit any needs, they just need new panels printing for your branding. Not only does this save you money but it also reduces the environmental cost of the stand.
Tables, chairs, TVs as well as the stands themselves can all be hired rather than purchased outright. This saves you an initial financial outlay and also means the same equipment is being reused over & over which helps reduce the environmental impact. Less to dispose of at the end of their natural life, less manufactured and so on. It also reduces the logistics required as the kit would all come back to us in our warehouse.
Think efficiency at all times
Lighting: Try to use efficient, modern lighting – make sure your equipment is up to date, older, less efficient lighting systems will be using a higher level of electricity than modern LEDs, and will be more susceptible to unexpected breakdowns.
Printed materials – less is more: Do visitors really want to take away a printed catalogue or bundle of printed sheets? Could they be delivered in an electronic way? Either by collecting customer details & via email or handing over a pre-loaded USB Thumbdrive with your catalogue on it. This will have a higher perceived value and is more likely to be kept after the show too, as it can be used for other purposes. If paperless is not an option, can you use recycled paper or FSC certified stock as an alternative?
Giveaways: Consider what you are giving away, does it have a perceived value that will mean it is retained or is it something that will likely be chucked in the bin when someone returns to the office? Here are a couple of ideas: branded bamboo travel cups, recycled pens or pencils, organic cotton bags, there are a plethora available online, how will you make yours stand out? You don’t want your brand to become instantly disposable – from a business point of view or an environmental one!
What are EBISS doing?:
Reusing: We try to reuse old packing materials & wooden pallets as much as possible, We ensure that all shipments are carried out using as little additional packaging as necessary, without compromising on the safety of the items
Recycling: Packing materials and wooden pallets are recycled where possible (subject to materials limitations) as much of it as possible once its useful life has ended.
Additional information from some of our popular modular exhibtion stand manufacturers.
Incrasingly being asked by customers regarding the environmental imapct of thier products, many manufacturers now publish a guide to explain thier eco-credentials and give more infromaton on how they are preparing for the future. You can read more from 3 of our suppliers below.
In February 2010, Orbus Exhibit & Display Group, of which Nimlok is a division, became the first North American company in its class to achieve ISO 14001:2015 certification, recognizing an organization’s high-level commitment to environmental protection.
Nimlok is working to minimize their impact on the environment by:
• Producing sound and recyclable display and exhibit solutions
• Designing custom modular displays that can be reconfigured instead of scrapped
• Reduction in waste via comprehensive recycling programs and the use of recyclable materials in every display we build
• Reduction in use of harmful compounds by investing in eco-alternative production processes
• Partnering with eco-conscious vendors and service providers
You can read more about Nimlok’s Environmental & Quality Commitment here.
This lightweight aluminium frame system is remarkably versatile and can be reused hundreds of times, thanks to its modular construction.
• Aluminium frames are 100% recyclable
• Lightweight construction, requires less people to construct it and requires the transportation of less materials than a stock wall stand
• In house manufacture means reduced transportation costs as no subcontracting, fully automated manufacturing to improve efficiency and reduce wastage
• No harmful acids used in the manufacture of the aluminium frames
• They are currently investing in research into a new ‘eco-panel’
You can read more about beMatrix’s Sustainability Charter here.
A few key points taken from their Green Commitment
• Aluminium structures contain 80% post-consumer recycled content & are recyclable themselves after their useful life has ended
• The internal packing foam in their cases is made from 100% recycled plastic, the cases themselves contain the maximum levels of reprocessed resins possible.
• The packing cases are 100% recyclable
• All manufacturing waste of steel, aluminium, plastic bottle, batteries and print cartridges are routinely collected & recycled
You can read their Green Commitment in full here.
Still got questions? Contact our logistics experts today for expert advice on reducing your environmnetal imapct today.
USA: Tel: +1 815 516 5084 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UK/EUROPE: Tel: +44 203 780 0666 email: email@example.com