Sustainability – Why It Matters Now More Than Ever

Mathew Hance

Nine great examples of how sustainability is our priority number one in the new future.

Firms that have committed to make genuine and transparent changes to their sustainability practices in a post-Covid era will emerge the strongest most quickly.

The enforced slowdown of global industry has sharpened the focus on trade show operations in a future where protecting the planet will have more importance.

And while returning to a profitable normal is top of everyone’s wish list, we’re already seeing an increased emphasis on doing the right thing for a world we have found to our cost has the potential to be disturbingly fragile.

Firms that operate efficiently to high standards will flourish as before, but if they can add sustainability to the mix – and mean it – they will emerge from this in the box seat.

Lockdown has given even the fastest moving companies an opportunity to slow down and take stock of what really matters to them and, most importantly, their clients.

That’s been something CDI World have not just been looking at, but actively including, in our future planning as a business for the last two years… and it’s something we’re hugely proud of.

Our far-reaching review comes from a position of awareness and an honesty in how to move forward. Because as an industry the traditional process of fabricating stands for trade shows and exhibitions attended by tens of thousands of people over several days, can generate significant waste.

As an industry, we’ve operated the same way for decades. So heightened awareness of climate change meant we wanted to look again at our processes to see where we could become more sustainable.

Here’s how:
  1. Fleet of thought
    We’ve been trialling the use of electric vehicles among our office employees for the last 12 months, and with the changes to the benefits-in-kind tax system, we hope to roll out electric vehicles to more employees over the coming months
  2. Commercial sense
    It’s not always possible to use electric vehicles in our commercial and delivery fleet, but we’re liaising closely with vehicle suppliers to ensure that wherever possible we use low emission vans and lorries to carry our materials and exhibition stands to destinations across the UK and Europe.
  3. Going local
    Traditionally, stand builders have always fabricated the kit in their own workshops and shipped it out, but we have partnerships across Europe with local suppliers and have identified companies where we can source materials and skills locally to the venue. This is good in terms of reducing the carbon footprint and contributing to the local economy.
  4. Material gain Local suppliers have access to local materials and where we’re using wood we’ll ask for certification to show it came from a sustainable forest wherever possible. The firms we strive to use will be those pledging to offset their carbon footprint. Our technical team have the knowledge and expertise to advise clients on the right materials and finishes that deliver on the desired design quality, while adhering to sustainable practices.
  5. WFH
    Surprisingly, the Working From Home debate still lingers, but Covid-19 has given us the chance to review working practices and in turn examine their effect on our sustainability as a business. Since lockdown we’ve turned the spotlight on whether there is a need for people to come in to the office and whether they can be as, or even more, effective from home.
  6. Balancing act Two of the biggest elements involved in trade stand creation are the use of paper and vinyl-printed graphics, but we’ve taken great steps to reduce the percentage taken to landfill from 90% to 30% in recent years. Awareness is a powerful tool in encouraging all of us to think about what happens when the show is over.
  7. Acting responsibly Carpet and laminate flooring damaged by footfall are the biggest casualties at any show, but we have taken simple and decisive steps to ensure their usefulness lives on. Once events are over, we contact community groups and charities to see if they need them and the response is always overwhelming. We’ve given furniture and carpets to churches, village halls and even families whose homes were ruined by flooding. All it costs us is time to load up a van and deliver and it’s a great example of Corporate Social Responsibility.
  8. Partnerships matter All the above depend on a joint responsibility from all players in the industry to be successful in the long term. From the designers, right the way through the supply chain to the show and beyond, it is already part of the agenda across all aspects of CDI World and its global partners. And it’s working.
  9. Championing the cause It is very easy to hail the virtues of acting sustainably. But words are meaningless without actions, so we have a UK champion dedicated to continuously assessing sustainability across the business and ensuring our clients are on board. If issues arise where we’re not acting as sustainably as we could, that person raises it with the production team and senior management.

In isolation and without a broad awareness and desire to change from senior management, each of these nine points will only scratch the surface.
But because our work is based on strong partnerships with loyal customers, we hope we can make a difference little by little. Together.

To find out how CDI World could help your community based NFP project, please get in contact on +44(0) 7876 335644 or

Mathew Hance is CDI World’s UK and European Marketing Executive.

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