Report: Tradeshows Generate 600,000 Tons of Waste Per-Year

From banners and booklets to flyers and samples, tradeshows can pile up several tons of trash before, during and after an event. About 600,000 tons of trash is generated every year by convention goers, making the tradeshow industry the second-largest industry to produce the most amount of waste, after the construction industry, according to data in a report from Smash Hit Displays.

The data, which analyzes information from Repurpose America, Inc. and Trade Show Geek, among others, shows that about 60 million people visit tradeshows each year generating 20 lbs. of waste per person, or over 1 billion lbs. of total waste.

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Though large-scale live-events produce a great deal of waste, there are ways to reduce a tradeshow’s environmental impact while increasing revenue and reducing costs. Here are some tips the report outlines:

  • Replace Paper With Technology. Instead of spending money on printed materials for brochures, handouts and flyers, utilize USBs loaded with digital brochures, and have exhibitors take advantage of interactive devices like tablets or iPods to replace large booklets through apps that attendees can directly download. QR codes are also an easy and inexpensive way to share digital content that would be normally printed. If there must be physical materials, having a printer on site to supply information on-demand is an efficient way to save paper.
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  • Recycle Materials to Reduce Waste. Encouraging exhibitors and attendees to use and distribute eco-tote bags, recycled pen and paper notepads, recycled cardboard and eco-friendly cups and cutlery can be an easy way to reduce a carbon footprint. If worried about cost, consider developing a sponsorship opportunity around the initiative
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  • Make It Easy to Recycle. The report suggests creating “waste-reduction stations” throughout the tradeshow floor. By using three, color-coded and easy-to-read bins that are labeled for cans and bottles, paper,and waste, attendees and exhibitors are not only encouraged to recycle, but it is easy for them to do so. Hire a volunteer to staff the stations and act as a “waste expert” to educate individuals and ensure materials are placed in the proper receptacles.

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  • Green Materials for Booth Displays. Encourage your exhibitors to have green lighting, like LED lights and fluorescent lights. It’s not only environmentally friendly, but can save money on electrical costs. Providing information to your exhibitors about recycled aluminum, green flooring, eco-friendly stains and finishes and eco-glass takes away the research effort for exhibitors while encouraging environmentally friendly polices for your event.
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