By: Ron Procopio, USITT Expo Director
“It goes without saying that trade shows and events are incredibly tough on the environment, producing massive amounts of waste and carbon emissions each year. According to MeetGreen, the typical conference attendee creates more than four pounds of waste and just under 400 pounds of CO2 emissions per day.”- Lisa Plummer Savas, Content & Marketing Editor, Trade Show News Network
Sustainability in the convention industry has been front of mind for over a decade with those who produce events. In 2007, I was the Show Manager at another convention/company. That year going green became the trend for all events with every convention production company spending hours researching how to make your events sustainable. I learned the differences between hand blowers and paper towels, recycling options for 200,000 sq. ft. expo floors, the energy differences in house lighting systems.
Here we are in 2017, and things haven’t changed much. Believe it or not, all convention centers do not have a recycling program. At the end of the show, hundreds of tons of trash end up in dumpsters headed for the landfill. The escalators are running for the entire event, the air conditioners are blowing all hours of the day and tons of food is wasted at the end of the day.
So, what is USITT doing about this? With our partner and contractor Shepard Exposition Services, we’ve developed plans to start making our event more environmentally friendly.
First, we are working on a recycling plan for the Stage Expo. That is different from the recycling receptacles you may find in the lobby which is run by the facility. On the expo floor you’ll find plastic wrapping, wood pallets and tons of literature that is left on the floor after the show is over. We’ll be contracting a recycling specific dumpster and have a dedicated person on-site to manage the sorting process.
More than 300 graphic panels will be used at the convention. New printing methods allow for direct printing on large signs; cutting the need for additional materials and labor. The signs will be reused as packing material for our materials back to warehouses and future events by Shepard.
The carpeting on the show will be a recycled carpet. The process is quite interesting:
The aisle carpet is used by Shepard Exposition Services, brought back to their offices and shampooed. It is used for up to 6 events. After 6 events, it is cut into smaller pieces to be used as booth carpeting. After 8 or so uses, the carpet is sent back to the manufacturer who chops the carpet up into pieces. Those pieces are re-glued together to create the “speckled” carpets with multi colors like blue/white, or black/white. In 2018, USITT will be using the black/white recycled carpet for our aisle carpet.
As show management, we are creating small changes that will create a big impact
Utilizing digital signs for session rooms
Using touch screen monitors for poster sessions
Drop shipping items to a warehouse in Miami, avoiding shipping items twice
Combining design pieces to share in space and materials; (i.e. offices combined with registration, or entrance structures and publication bins)
Eliminating much printed material as possible and further utilizing the USITT mobile app.
Creating a shuttle bus system to the hotels and tour destinations for combined transportation
You can help keep our event’s environmental impact down as well. Take shuttle buses and shared rides whenever possible. Make sure to deposit your trash in the correct receptacle. Utilize the USITT mobile app to cut down on the need for literature printing and travel home.
How can you help USITT keep our carbon footprint down? Or what recommendations would you like to see us make to make USITT 2018 green? Comment below.