Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

Earth Day | 1970-2021 | Thursday, April 22

April 19th, 2021 COMMENTS
Earth Day 2021, Thursday April 21

Thursday, April 22 is Earth Day

First held in 1970, Earth Day challenged and mobilize Americans to bring awareness to the issues caused by air and water pollution as well as the amount of trash going into landfills. Rivers on fire, dead fish floating on the surface of lakes, and smog blanketing major US cities were common news items back then. Does anyone remember when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was on fire in 1969?

Here’s Walter Cronkite reporting on the first Earth Day in 1970.

New Laws and Agencies

These environmental disasters and health issues caused by pollution led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), OSHA, The Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act among others. These laws have protected millions of men, women, and children from disease and death and protected hundreds of species from extinction.

Landfill

Recycled and Green Materials

Environmental issues also led to the practice of recycling which became mainstream in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that states began mandating the recycling of paper, plastics, and metal.  Recycling decreased the amount of waste going into landfills and created a new industry dedicated to producing recycled raw materials and products with the same look, feel, and quality of products made from virgin raw materials.

Recycling

Aa a trade show veteran in the 80s and 90s, I remember the staggering waste produced at a typical show or event that went into landfills. Since then, recycling and sustainability have had a positive impact on North American trade shows. We no longer see mountains of brochures, paper products, give-a-ways, and carpeting thrown away.

However, building eco-friendly exhibits continued to be a challenge. Green materials either weren’t available or were expensive. Plus, there was a misconception that sustainable meant designing a building a display that was either structurally unsound or aesthetically unattractive.

Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits

In 2006, Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits was founded to give exhibitors eco-friendly trade show booths that didn’t compromise on design or quality. Eco-Systems utilized eco-friendly materials similar to Sintra, fabric made from recycled plastics, aluminum extrusions produced using new and recycle aluminum, FSC certified wood, Green Guard laminates and water-based adhesives and inks. As technology has evolved, so has the quality of the material we use today in the construction of Eco-Systems displays. But one thing has never changed: the innovative designs that made Eco-Systems appealing.

Over the past 15 years, sustainability has been a major initiative for most corporations, a trend we’re seeing again as companies revisit their trade show program. Unfortunately, many exhibitors don’t realize they have sustainable options.

Offering your clients an eco-friendly exhibit is not only is the right thing to do for the environment but also gives your clients the ability to tie their corporate sustainability initiatives into their trade show program. And the best thing is they can do this without compromising the design or the quality of the materials used to build the exhibit. Plus, purchasing or renting an Eco-Systems display never costs more than a non-sustainable exhibit.

We encourage you to visit the Eco-System’s Galleries in Exhibit Design Search with over 200 contemporary designs.

eSmart Sustainable Trade Show Displays

Will COVID End “Build & Burn” Exhibits and Events?

February 25th, 2021 COMMENTS
Landfill Image -- Build and Burn Trade Show Exhibits

By Al Mercuro, Senior Account Director, Genesis Exhibits

What is Build and Burn?

In recent years there has been a movement toward minimizing waste in the exhibit and event industry, from minimizing printed materials to laying down carpet tiles that can be re-used. Nancy Zavada founder and president of MeetGreen, was thinking outside the box when she found a way to donate graphic murals from the IMEX America Show, which often get trashed after one show, to a senior citizen home for use in their common areas.

But one hurdle that hasn’t been overcome is the problem of what is known as “Build & Burn.” That’s when a custom exhibit is built for a particular event and when the show is over it literally gets tossed into a landfill. I hope it’s obvious that this practice is inherently wasteful, but while it has largely fallen out of favor in the U.S., Build & Burn is still commonplace in Europe and Asia.

A few years ago, for example, one of my financial clients needed me to design and build three 20-foot inline exhibits, one for the US, one for Europe, and one for Asia. She accepted our proposal for two of the three but said she found a much lower price for the exhibit in Asia. I warned her about the Build & Burn issue and asked her whether the exhibit will be designed and constructed for long-term, multiple-event use. Well, three months later, she called me to say the vendor disposed of the exhibit after the first show.

The Environmental Impact

“Even though there are increased efforts internationally to use sustainable or recycled materials in the construction of trade show exhibits, Build & Burn is still the predominant method of booth construction in many parts of the world,” says Tom Beard, Regional Sales Manager of Classic Exhibits. “It has a major impact on the environment due to the amount of materials sent to a landfill.”

There are some legitimate reasons why companies choose Build & Burn exhibits. Some shows may only happen once every three or four years and exhibitors won’t want to pay to have their exhibits shipped back and stored, especially if they’ll need new design and graphics to match the company’s future marketing messages.

However, there are eco-friendly alternatives to Build & Burn. One alternative is what some call “Euro-Booths.” They’re modular designs based on a common white-wall structure, each with the same counter. Exhibitors rent the booth and just bring their graphics. The booths are reusable and since they’re usually stored on-site or near the venue, they also cut down on shipping costs.

The Rental Alternative

Rental Exhibit as an Alternative to Build and Burn

“Rentals are the most eco-friendly way to exhibit internationally,” says Beard of Classic Exhibits.

Some vendors, however, want a unique look that will differentiate them from their competitors. To fill that niche, some vendors are now offering custom rental solution that looks more like a custom-built exhibit with the sustainability benefits of a reusable exhibit.

As companies increasingly emphasize sustainability throughout their businesses, they’ll want to work with event partners that can support those goals through re-usable alternatives, that often also save money, rather than wasteful Build & Burn exhibits.

“From what I’ve heard, the tide is turning from Build & Burns based on awareness of the wastefulness of it in some areas and the associated shipping/labor/disposal costs,” says Candy Adams, The Booth Mom, expert Exhibit Management Trainer and well known Tradeshow Speaker, “Another cost factor is the availability of more aluminum extrusion systems/SEG (silicone edged graphic) fabrics; it’s getting to the point of being cheaper to rent the extrusion, and print it in Asia and ship it to shows, rather than building a one-time-use exhibit onsite and then trashing it.”

The Future of Build and Burn

As we look toward the day when live events resume, let’s hope that sustainability becomes an important part of the conversation. The Pandemic Pause could provide an important opportunity to rethink the events business and move past Build & Burn exhibiting. Glenda Brungardt, Global Tradeshow/Event Manager at tech giant HP said it best. “Bottom line for me: Build & Burn may be a simple solution for a specific show. But as an event planner it is my job to look at the bigger picture and what impact my choices in the construction of a booth have not only on the environment but also on the brand I represent.”

Build and Burn Exhibits

Al Mercuro is a Senior Account Director at Genesis Exhibits. You can contact Al at amercuro@exhibitsbygenesis.com or via LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/al-mercuro-4929645/).