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The exhibition industry does not have a very good track record in environmental terms. Much of the materials used are not recyclable including single-use plastics or foamex. However, we believe that if we work together to address the problem, we can make changes for the better. Our Sustainability page discusses how we work with you to produce a more sustainable exhibition stand from start to finish.
Our customers often ask us what measures we take to produce more sustainable exhibition stands, so here we discuss 10 ways how you can make your exhibition stand more sustainable whilst still delivering the goods!
Here at Motive Exhibitions, we are on a mission to deliver show-stopping exhibition stands to our customers with as little impact on the environment as possible. It is an ongoing process as we are constantly evaluating the way we work, the materials we use and how we can improve.
Table of contents
- Choose a sustainable exhibition stand: a reusable modular stand system
- Recycle your exhibition stand media
- Carpets and flooring for your exhibition stand
- Timber! – Is it recycled or from renewable sources?
- Does your exhibition stand include single- use plastics?
- How sustainable are your take-home products?
- Can you go paper-free on your exhibition stand?
- How green is your exhibition transportation?
- Energy – Lighting and electricity use at the exhibition
- After the event
Supply chains – how sustainable are your partners?
One of the best things you can do to make your exhibition stand more sustainable is to eliminate single-use products. If you are planning to exhibit on a regular basis, then, without a doubt, a reusable modular stand system is the most sustainable type of exhibition stand, which can be hired. as it can be reconfigured and broken down easily for each exhibition you plan to do, meaning that it can be reconfigured and reused again and again.
Equally, if you only plan to exhibit on a one-off basis, you can hire a modular stand system that can be built to your exact requirements and then broken down and rehired by the exhibition company.
You might need to commission a one-off custom stand if you have a product launch or large event where you need a truly bespoke bells and whistles product!
Don’t fret, the custom exhibition stand might have a limited shelf life, but as with modular exhibition stands or shell scheme, you can still ensure that the materials used are carefully sourced and sustainable so that once the stand has served its purpose, the materials can be recycled and/or repurposed without too much impact on the environment.
Instead of using foam boards for your exhibition media, you can use sustainable eco boards, recycled aluminium composite boards, non-PVC vinyls and recycled acrylic substitutes. Ensure you have a detailed conversation with your exhibition company at the start of the project to ensure they can provide you with these eco-friendly substitutes.
When planning your sustainable exhibition stand, don’t forget the flooring! Instead of polyester carpets, check that your exhibition company can provide a sustainable alternative. In addition, for any raised flooring, you can choose to rent a modular, reusable system that can be broken down and easily transported to reduce your carbon footprint.
We use a lot of wood in the exhibition trade particularly for larger custom builds, furniture and flooring. Always ensure that any timber used in your construction is from either FSC or PEFC chain custody suppliers as it will come from renewable sources where forests are replanted on a regular basis.
Another more sustainable option is to rent any timber displays and furniture you need for your sustainable exhibition stand. It can be tailored to your specific needs and refurbished afterwards to remove waste from the process.
Single-use plastics are possibly the worst offender in the exhibition industry. Ensuring your exhibition stand contains no single-use plastic is the best thing you can do when planning the design and delivery.
We’ve discussed using recyclable materials for the media and framework of your stand. However, it’s important to think about the additional materials included in your sustainable exhibition stand design.
What furniture are you including? Are you hiring or reusing it? If you are providing refreshments, are you using recyclable cups or plates? Alternatively you could provide bamboo or metal coffee ‘cups for life’ or reusable water containers, which visitors can keep and use again with the added advantage that they contain your logo and branding.
Ensure you identify the need to eliminate single-use plastics from your stand right from the outset as there is always an alternative.
We’ve touched on this above with eliminating any single-use products for refreshments on your sustainable exhibition stand, however, the same needs to be true for any products you provide for your visitors.
Everyone loves a freebie and it’s a great way to give your potential customers a reminder of your product, service and overall branding, but always consider how useful and long-lasting your freebie is. If you are producing pens for example, then provide good quality pens made from bamboo or recycled materials. Remove any plastic materials and focus on quality as visitors are far more likely to use these on a long-term basis.
Compared to a few years ago, the amount of paper on exhibition stands has diminished. However, for some luxury products, visitors may still request a physical brochure. In addition, business cards are still widely used.
Therefore, to keep your exhibition stand sustainable, provide this information digitally and take visitors to your website and/or social media with interactive games or activities on your stand which will negate the need for any physical material. In addition, provide them with long-lasting take-home products with your brand rather than unnecessary using paper which uses a lot of energy to produce and is simply thrown away after the exhibition has finished.
How you transport your exhibition stand and materials is just as important as the stand itself with regards to sustainability.
You can have a fantastic, sustainable exhibition stand, but if it has to be transported in petrol vehicles using multiple trips then you are not really delivering an eco-friendly product. Discuss with your exhibition company the methods they use for transportation. Do they use electric vehicles where possible? How many vehicles and trips are necessary to deliver all the materials you need?
We’ve discussed modular stand systems and flooring above. The additional benefit of these are that they can be broken down into much smaller pieces which can be easily transported in one go.
So your sustainable exhibition stand is ticking all the right boxes and using renewable and recycled materials. It has been transported using electric vehicles but how else can you reduce your environmental impact? Exhibition spaces are bright, interactive spaces buzzing with exciting displays and products which traditionally use a huge amount of energy. From lights, fridges, coffee machines, digital displays, online games, charging stations, ice machines, the list goes on, there are many aspects of your stand that require energy.
Don’t despair! There are measures you can take to reduce your environmental impact during an exhibition. If you are hiring a lighting system, check with the company that it is energy efficient. Ensure bulbs are low energy and that any devices are switched off if not in use.
You can also contact the exhibition space to see if the energy they use comes from more renewable sources. Many exhibition halls are now changing to greener electricity providers and you can encourage this by enquiring about this wherever you plan to exhibit.
We have touched on this several times but one of the most important things you can do at the end of your exhibition is to reuse and recycle as much material as possible. Keep a checklist of all the materials used on your exhibition stand including additional gifts and refreshments and plan exactly how it will be reused and recycled as you design your exhibition. There should be no need for anything to be thrown away after the event.
Finally, to ensure that your exhibition stand is truly sustainable, it is important to ensure that all the companies on your supply chain have the same goals. Together we can work together to make this industry more eco-friendly and sustainable. At Motive, we only work with partners who share our green values, from the materials we use down to our energy supply company and waste management system.
let us help make your exhibition stand more sustainable
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any help or advice on how you can make your exhibition stand more sustainable. We factor this in from our initial meeting with you through to the design and delivery of your exhibition stand and it is our mission to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible in every project we undertake.
David Hennessy is our Managing Director and co-founder of Motive Exhibitions. Based in St Neots we help businesses across Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire exhibit across the UK and beyond.