Sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint are topics that have been in the spotlight for well over two decades yet are relatively new terms in the trade show and event sector. A so-called “Green Revolution” has more recently swept through the industry and continues to gain traction.
It’s no secret that traditional trade show practices with little regard for energy consumption or consideration of material use are quite frankly, unsustainable. Industry leaders are joining forces to call for a collective change to these practices.
Various industry trade bodies around the world have examined the environmental impact that trade shows and exhibitions have, not least the UFI who published a report in July 2021 on ‘The Status of Sustainability in the Exhibition Industry’. In the USA, The Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) spearheaded a task force to evaluate the environmental impacts of the trade show industry. A final report was issued in September 2022 titled, “Finding the future, together towards a more sustainable B2B trade show industry in the U.S. and Canada”.
In the UK, there is a ‘Cross Association Sustainability Working Group’ made up of the AEV, AEO and ESSA, whose members focus on the important issues around sustainability in the UK exhibition industry. This group provides the ability to work together to help reduce the event industry’s impact on the environment. ESSA (The Event Services and Supplier Association) have gone a step further and introduced an official accreditation scheme which CDI World UK & & Europe are currently working towards. My appointment as the first Global Sustainability Champion for CDI World, has a key role in the ESSA Sustainability working group.
From our HQ in Singapore, the SACEOS (Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers) have been working with stakeholders to develop a national document on waste management guidelines and best practices for the Singapore MICE industry. The objective being to contribute to a certification programme to verify event companies’ compliance to sustainability metrics.
Across all segments (organisers, venues and service providers) there is a feeling that the rate of transition towards sustainability is around halfway between ‘only starting the transition’ and ‘very advanced’, and, in general, exhibition participants also rate the efforts of the industry as ‘average’, in this regard.
What exactly is meant by Greenhouse Gas and Why it’s Important to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
We’re all familiar with the phrases, but let’s clarify what we’re referring to. A carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of carbon compound emissions that come from using fossil fuels by a person or group of people. The gases produced, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are called greenhouse gases because they trap heat in the atmosphere causing the average temperature of the earth to rise. According to the EPA, human health, agriculture, water resources, forests, wildlife, and coastal areas are all vulnerable to this climate change.
A More Sustainable Trade Show
Here are simple changes that can be implemented to reduce carbon emissions.
1. Eco-friendly materials for all aspects of the booth (walls, lighting and even flooring)
- Aluminum is often referred to as a green metal because of its ability to be recycled multiple times over without losing its quality which saves up to 95% of energy. Aluminum is also lightweight, making it cost-effective to transport and easy to handle.
- Wood is another example of green building material. Bamboo specifically is a fast-growing crop making it a renewable source. Reclaimed and salvaged wood are also sustainable choices of materials since no further deforestation is required.
- Energy-efficient LED lights can be swapped out in place of incandescent lights as they are designed to conserve energy by using less wattage.
- Cork is a renewable flooring material that can be installed without adhesives making it easier to swap out damaged sections of flooring without having to replace the entire floor. Its foam-like material also supports long hours of standing.
- Linoleum is made from natural materials such as cork dust, oils and wood, and is another eco-friendly flooring option.
2. Go Modular
Modular booths are prefabricated booth systems that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are typically made from aluminum which makes them lightweight and durable. In addition, each panel is customizable and interchangeable allowing for multiple confirmation and purposes. Its reusable nature coupled with the ease of use and handling of aluminum often results in significant operational cost savings for exhibitors.
3. Go Digital
The SISO Final Report identifies “Waste” as the second largest impact on the environment. This waste includes the general waste generated during the show including printed materials. With the availability of smartphones and tablets, digital brochures using QR codes can be a simple and effective way to share marketing content. And don’t forget to incorporate email and social media marketing to further customer interactions.
Upping the digital game by incorporating virtual reality or augmented reality not only helps the environment by eliminating paper and material waste, but it can bring the wow factor to impress customers.
4. Recycle. Recycle. Recycle.
It’s simple. At the end of the show, recycle what can be recycled.
Sustaining an Industry and Lead by Example
The trade show industry plays a significant role in the economy by creating jobs and generating millions of dollars for communities. Trade shows are invaluable for the industry as they offer a venue for groups with similar interests to come together to learn, network, and build relationships, making them an ideal setting for companies to build brand awareness and recognition.
Merging sustainability into trade shows and brand marketing strategy as one cohesive plan can be highly effective and set the company apart from the competition. So, start today, and lead by example by implementing simple changes to your trade show and marketing strategy.
To learn more about how CDI World can help be more sustainable, contact us.