Every year, trade and consumer shows generate 60,000 tons of waste. That represents 1 billion pounds and makes this sector the second worst waste producer after construction.

Most of this waste comes from all the flyers, posters, plastic bags, catalogs or cheap samples that are offered to visitors, but also from the plastic that protects the carpets during the assembly stage and the carpet itself at the dismantling stage, that will in most of cases never be reused. The stand carpet is usually packed  in bulk, and the carpet located in the communal spaces is recycled. As the size of the trade show increases, and the proportion of stands with customized design (or non-reusable stands) with it, the quantity of hazardous and wood waste can raise tremendously.

But of course, there are some simple solutions to this problem. Since we are nowadays living in a very technologized /digital world, some tools could be really helpful to bring other solutions to reduce waste in trade shows and fairs. Most of the people have a smartphone, and a good way to avoid any waste (especially of paper) is to develop an application, or to use a QR code to collect the clients’ data for example, instead of losing time, energy and paper by doing it by-hand. A digital catalog is a good alternative too, and is even more useful since the client can get access to any information and go through all the products on a tablet. The exhibitors can also provide reusable bags and biodegradable or even reusable beverage and food containers (plates and cups made out of cardboard or bamboo for example).


Why going paperless?

Going paperless is a good way to reduce waste and expenses at the same time: avoiding sending invites and printed memos by creating event pages, apps and registering people via email. Moreover, it gives a quicker access to all of the information on the internet since it can be accessible at any time.  E-tickets are also a very good alternative to all the printed ones, the customers can get them directly on their phone and have their badge linked to them. The advertising of an event is also a big source of waste, that can be avoided by communicating on social networks and websites and not by sending printed documents.


What about the food?

Regarding the food, trying to know how many people are sure to attend the event enables to anticipate food quantities and avoid food waste. The leftovers and food waste can also be given to associations. An event can also improve its carbon footprint by keeping things as local as possible when it comes to food or features for the event.


Concerning the plastic waste due to stands?

When it comes to plastic use, events’ stands waste a lot. First of all, they are, in most of the cases, used for one time purpose. That means that they are then thrown away and not reused. Moreover, event companies paint them directly on site, generating a lot of waste too. Conventional paints are not sustainable and can lead to health problems since they contain some toxic ingredients, but natural paints are a better solution. Natural paints can be made out of recycled, natural or bio-based content. Then to wrap all the stand elements (structure, panels etc.) companies often use a huge amount of plastic and then throw it away, instead of keeping it for later, in order to reuse it.

And regarding the lights?

For the lightening, LED lights are way better and save energy but it is also possible to lower power efficiency to avoid energy waste. A white screen is a very good investment to project all the digital content and to avoid all the paper panels and printed posters that are used to show data and information usually.


Other tips?

An easy way to go greener is also for the venue to recycle the waste generated during the event, or to hire volunteers who would collect waste. Then all the waste such as the tents and leftovers products should be given to donation places and charities.

And finally a partnership with public transport can also be developed and car sharing should be encouraged. Some venues even have and International Sustainability Certification, such as Manchester Central or ACC Liverpool, and choosing one of those option enables to boost the credibility of an event.

To conclude, there are many ways to reduce the carbon footprint when organizing events, and it takes very simple action to act for the best of our planet!