Sustainable Exhibition Stands

The world is changing and the environmental impact of products and services is becoming more of an issue. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of the products they buy. A recent study by Forbes showed that 88% of consumers want companies to help them make a difference by being more environmentally friendly and ethical. Research by NYU Stern’s Centre for Sustainable Business on U.S consumers revealed that 50% of growth in consumer packaged goods from 2013 to 2018 came from sustainable products. According to this article, products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster, indicating a shift in consumer preference towards environment-friendly products.

Exhibitions have traditionally generated a lot of waste – custom-built stands are often just discarded at the end of the show and built again from scratch at the next one. This is very wasteful so how can we improve the environmental impact of exhibiting and have a sustainable exhibition stand?

What is a ‘sustainable product?’ “Sustainable products are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal” [Source: Wikipedia]. So it is important to consider the product life-cycle. One of the easiest ways to reduce environmental damage is to ensure that, wherever possible, the products you use are reusable time and again – thus extending their life-cycle.

Stand Materials

Custom-build stands tend to be built from unresourceful materials – MDF or ply faced panelling, timber, steel, and acrylics, topped off with paint or stretched PVC covering. Much of this cannot be re-used so is simply discarded at the end of the show.

Of course, one solution to an environmentally friendly stand would be using a material that can be recycled like cardboard. However, this doesn’t really produce a great looking stand and won’t last very long so by definition isn’t sustainable.

A far better solution is to have a modular stand that can be re-used many times. Made from a lightweight aluminium system, stands can be dismantled at the end of an exhibition and thanks to its modular structure, be rebuilt quickly and easily at any time.

The aluminium frames are very durable so will last for years, they are also easily recycled. The whole thing is quickly assembled with no need for power tools. At the end of the show it can be dismantled and simply stored in a box, ready for the next show. The ability to re-use it and remodel it for another show is an economic advantage too.

For environmentally friendly graphics, printed fabric graphics that fit easily to a modular stand are the best solution. At the end of the show they can be rolled up and stored in a tube, ready for the next exhibition.

Carpet tiles are a great option for sustainable flooring for your stand. Easily stored and reconfigured to use again they can also be recycled so probably represent the most environmentally friendly option.

Other factors to consider

Lighting: Lighting should be modern and efficient– older, less efficient lighting systems will be using a higher level of electricity than modern LEDs and will be more susceptible to unexpected breakdowns.

Printed Materials: Do visitors really need to take away a printed brochure or bundle of printed sheets? Could they be delivered in an electronic way? Either by sending them via email or handing over a pre-loaded USB stick with your brochure on it. This will have a higher perceived value and is more likely to be kept after the show too, as it can be used for other purposes. Alternatively, you could have a QR code displayed on your stand which will give all your details electronically. If paperless is not an option, can you use recycled paper or FSC certified stock as an alternative?

Giveaways: Consider what you are giving away, does it have a perceived value that will mean it is retained or is it something that will likely be thrown away when someone returns to the office? Here are a couple of ideas: branded bamboo travel cups, recycled pens or pencils, organic cotton bags, there are many options available online, and you will come across all the better for being sustainable.

Transport: Consider hiring a minibus to transport staff to the exhibition, or at least sharing cars. Purchase a stand that folds away and can fit in a smaller vehicle, reducing the need for large lorries to transport your stand to an exhibition.

A sustainable solution

Here at Black Robin Exhibits we design and build beautiful exhibition stands, that are custom designed, but have all the flexible benefits of a contemporary modular stand building system. Hard-wired into our business-model is the provisioning of exhibition stands that are reusable by the client over many different events, saving money and enhancing the exhibitor’s environmental credentials.

Black Robin’s solution, the Prestige Events System,offers the environmentally aware exhibitor a number of advantages:

  • Transport: Smaller, lighter, less-polluting vehicles can be used to move the hardware to and from the event. The modular system packs down into small containers so there is no need for large heavy-goods vehicles

  • Speed: Exhibition stands can be built quickly, using less on-site labour and resources

  • Safety: No power tools are required, nor dust and debris produced, which means significantly reduced health and safety risks

  • Clean-Process:No screws, nails, glues, laminates, solvents or chemicals are needed on-site

  • ReusabilityStructure and graphics can be easily reconfigured and reused for different stand space, at different shows, allowing these materials a much longer life than custom-built exhibition stands

Quality, customer service and our reputation are important to us. Over the 20-years we have been operating, we’ve evolved a tough set of quality control procedures and a strict production methodology, that delivers our clients outstanding exhibition stands again and again. No exhibition stand leaves our premises without a complete ‘nut ‘n’ bolt’ pre-build.

We are on a mission to supply our clients with a reusable and sustainable exhibiting model, and many aspects of our service reflect that fact. For example, we offer a free lifetime stand design service whereby you can ask us to reconfigure your stand at any time and we will do it for free. To discuss your exhibition requirements with an expert and free design ideas please call us on 0800 019 2141 or email design@exhibition-stands.com.

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