Mathew Hance, Senior Executive and Global Sustainability Champion at CDI World, CSDB’s parent company, explains how they have achieved real change in reducing their carbon footprint in stand designs and the drive to help their clients reduce their environmental impact at exhibitions.
Creating temporary structures for events and exhibitions has for many years been inherently wasteful, the processes and materials used were viewed by the industry as something that was unavoidable in creating temporary yet impactful 3D environments.
This has changed dramatically over the last 10 years with many of our customers, from large global corporate clients to smaller SMEs, all wanting to see solutions which recognise their impact and attempt to reduce wastage that their exhibition creates.
My role as Global Sustainability Champion is to oversee CDI World’s progress in continuing to reduce negative environmental impacts, not only in our project work, using concepts such as circular design, but also in our day-to-day operations and we are currently working towards official sustainability accreditation through our membership with ESSA, the trade body representing contractors in the UK Exhibition Industry”.
When we receive a new exhibition stand brief from clients and we start to look at creating a design, it’s important for us to consider every aspect of what is needed to deliver the concept, and how we can achieve an impactful and inviting space, whilst limiting the amount of material going to landfill or incineration.
Exhibition sustainability checklist
Every project we undertake is subject to a Sustainability Checklist that covers six key areas:
CSDB follows the 5Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle. New materials come from certified sustainable sources and we prioritise reuse post-event. We design exhibits using standard sizes, enabling hire of multiple-use items. All materials not returned to rental stock have a clear reuse or recycling route.
Traditional event collateral, such as vinyl banners and signage, are not easily recyclable. Printed literature also has negative environmental impacts. We pursue digital alternatives using LED screens and mobile apps. Techniques like 3D projection mapping plus dramatic energy efficient lighting can create experiences that are both immersive and sustainable.
We have a partnership with a supplier that provides environmentally friendly products and merchandise that can create a positive impression on your clients at your exhibition space. These products are importantly long lasting, economical, useful and impactful.
We aim to work with exhibition organisers that have solid sustainability credentials and have a desire to work with a supply chain that supports that. For example, we look for environmentally aware staff, and exhibition venues with robust onsite waste management, and low-energy lighting. Where these are not available, we actively support to help them reduce environmental impact, through our own onsite processes.
Good partnership both upstream and downstream is vital and all delivery teams and suppliers must commit to our clearly-stated sustainability and environmental objectives. Every purchase decision we make takes into account environmental impact as well as social and economic factors.
Travel and vehicles
We use vehicles with optimal fuel economy, minimal emissions and under five years old. To reduce travel distances, we select local suppliers and crew wherever possible and partner with a single transport provider to ensure efficiency in scheduling and use of vehicles. We also engage freight consolidation hubs to further reduce environmental impact.
Live events which require a physical audience attendance will always have an environmental impact and true net zero without carbon offsetting is impossible to achieve. However the UK exhibition industry as a whole are committed to a reduction in waste and carbon production and whichever stand builder you choose, make sure that