The trade show industry has gotten a bit of a bad rap for not being as ‘green’ as other industries. While some of this criticism is a little overwrought, there are certainly areas where trade shows can stand to improve their sustainability chops. There are a number of ways that the industry can improve on this front. Display rentals and other means of reusing and recycling materials may be the first and most important point of improvement.
Exhibitors and show organizers could stand to improve the amount of waste that they produce by reusing and recycling more materials in particular. There is also room for improvement in terms of energy conservation as well. Every industry, including the trade show industry should be moving towards a higher degree of sustainability and strides are already being made at recent shows. Still, more can be done.
Historically, there have been a lot of brochures, pamphlets and other handouts at many trade show booths that have contributed to the significant amount of paper waste that is produced by trade shows. This can be limited by instead providing means for attendees to take away information, without giving them a piece of paper that has a high likelihood of ending up in the trash bin a few minutes later. For example, QR codes on display graphics could be used to allow attendees (nearly all of whom will have a smartphone on hand) to easily get information without the need to waste paper.
Another way to cut down on waste is to further utilize display rentals. Renting a display is more efficient because it doesn’t require new materials like a new display does. It also saves you money in the long-run because when renting trade show booths you don’t need to worry about storage. This reduces hassle and helps you improve your ROI when exhibiting at a trade show.
In addition, efforts should be made to reduce the amount of electricity used by trade show booths. This can be done by using high-efficiency lighting and monitors for kiosks (i.e. those that are certified by Energy Star). In addition, exhibitors and individuals with influence should push trade show coordinators to either derive a significant amount of the show’s power from renewable sources or purchase carbon offsets to help mitigate the potential environmental damage from failing to do so.
Together, the trade show industry will grow into a mature and sustainable business that will persist long into the future.