1. Choose a sustainable exhibition stand: a reusable modular stand system

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.

Modular Tactile Themed Exhibition Booths | Motive Exhibitions

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 achieve this 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.

If you require specific Scope 3 information for your stand project, please contact us.

Sustainable custom build Exhibition Stands | Motive Exhibitions
sustainable exhibition stands | 2024 Stand Trends | Motive Exhibitions
Exhibition Stand Designers | Motive Exhibitions
bespoke exhibition stand | Motive Exhibitions

2. Recycle your exhibition stand media

You might need to commission a custom stand if you have a product launch or large event where you need a truly bespoke bells and whistles stand, but are worried about its environmental single-use impact.

Don’t fret, a custom exhibition stand can have an extended shelf life, by combining a modular exhibition stand, custom and hired elements to create a hybrid stand that is unique to your brand and designed to be used again and again.

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 with lmited 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.

3. Carpets and flooring for your exhibition stand

When planning your exhibition stand, don’t forget the flooring! Instead of polyester carpets, check that your exhibition company can provide a sustainable alternative.

bespoke exhibition stands | Motive Exhibitions

5. Does your exhibition stand include single- use plastics?

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.

Trade Show | Packaging Innovations | IPL Global
Outdoor exhibition stand | 2024 exhibition stand trends | Motive Exhibitions

4. Timber! – Is it recycled or from renewable sources?

Historically a lot of wood has been used in the exhibition trade, particularly for larger custom builds, furniture and flooring.

A more eco-friendly option is to rent a modular structure, timber flooring and the furniture you need, to reduce your environmental impact and CO2 emissions.

This hybrid approach can be tailored to your specific needs, can be reused in multiple configurations and takes up a fraction of the space to transport compared to a timber stand.

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.

7. Can you go paper-free on your exhibition stand?

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, but there are paper-free alternatives.

Keep your exhibition stand sustainable, and 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.

Exhibition stands hire uk Farnborough | Motive Exhibitions

9. Energy – Lighting and electricity use at the exhibition

Your 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.

Bespoke Exhibition booth | 2024 exhibition stand trends | Motive Exhibitions
Custom Exhibition Stand Builders | Motive Exhibitions

6. How sustainable are your take-home products?

We’ve touched on this above with eliminating any single-use products for refreshments on your 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.

Supply chains – how sustainable are your partners?

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.

We can work together to make this industry more eco-friendly, accountable and sustainable. At Motive, we only work with partners who share our values, from the materials we use down to our energy supply company and waste management system.

Motive Exhibition Team | Custom Builds and Hire
Hybrid Custom Exhibition Stand | Motive Exhibitions | LuxFilms
Exhibition Stand Preview | Pre-built Stand at Motive Exhibitions

8. How green is your exhibition transportation?

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.

If you visit us to see your stand pre-built before an exhibition, you’ll be able to use our electric vehicle chargers whilst you’re with us!

Exhibition stand creative ideas and inspiration

10. After the event

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.

Follow us on LinkedIn for regular tips, advice, best practice and inspiration on exhibiting.

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.

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David Hennessy

David Hennessy

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.


Motive Exhibitions, 3 Orion Court, Ambuscade Road, Colmworth Business Park, Eaton Socon, St. Neots, PE19 8YX

01480 597 444  |  hello@motiveexhibitions.co.uk

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