The trade show industry is not generally associated with “GREEN” initiatives. In fact, Trade Show News Network (TSNN) estimates that over 600,000 tons of trash are generated every year by 60 million trade show attendees who walk the floors. According to this infographic, all this waste comes from multiple sources at each trade show.
At Acer, we try to change that in as many ways as we can manage – from big to small. Our CEO, Mark Crane sits on the board of the Experiential Designers and Producers Association (EDPA) and participates on their Sustainability Roundtable, working with other industry leaders to increase the environmental consciousness of designers and fabricators in the exhibits industry.
Acer has made conscious effort to be greener in several areas of business, with some examples below.
- Many of our newest designs are constructed from reusable panel systems, which can be configured in infinite different ways. This allows clients to achieve a new and unique look, without the excessive use of building materials and waste.
- Components are designed and engineered to fit in standardized crates wherever possible. Standardized crates fit side-by-side in trailers to maximize trailer volumes.
- We evaluate where we can re-laminate, change lighting or modify structures before constructing new properties.
- We consistently use lightweight materials, consider ease of installation, attempt to reduce packaging/freight, build modularity and plan for interchangeability with other elements of each exhibit to minimize both consumption of raw materials and overall costs.
- We implement recycled and/or recyclable elements such as Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), plywood with recycled core materials, laminates with up to 60% recycled content, and re-bonded carpet padding made from scrap foam.
- Where possible, Acer teams use solvent-free adhesives used for bonding fabric, plastic laminates and other materials in the construction of exhibits, and also seek to use water-based or Low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and coatings.
- We have a continuing effort to eliminate the use of composite wood and Agrifiber products containing urea-formaldehyde resins.
- Rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo, wheatboard, strawboard and cork are becoming more readily available and are viable alternatives to slower-growing species of hard woods. Acer advocates use of these types of materials in exhibit fabrications.
- Printing in our graphics department is often done on recycled substrates such as green-certified print media, poly materials, high density fiber boards, and paper.
- When possible, we encourage our clients to overmount on previously used graphic substrates to avoid landfills.
- Of course, all print cartridges are recycled, as has become standard practice across industries.
- Heat-generating applications (such as our lamination machine) are uses only when necessary for production.
- In 2014, we rehabilitated an abandoned facility to become our new corporate headquarters. Throughout this building, we have implemented programmable thermostats, overhead ventilation systems, low-flow water systems and motion sensors on all lighting which shuts down after 20 minutes of stillness.
- Upcycling is evident throughout our facility as well. Our conference room is designed with authentic reclaimed barn wood, and some portions of our decor are crafted from scrap materials leftover from exhibit builds.
- Clean-burning energy-efficient liquid propane is used to power our forklifts.
- Acer dedicates time and resources to separate components from exhibits that are being discarded. Aluminum, steel, cardboard, wood products, acrylics and PVC-based components are recycled as a matter of practice. Those items discarded in bins are sent to energy generation facilities rather than landfills.
With our Clients
- The Acer rental program is inherently a recycling program, using repeatedly using existing tradeshow elements.
- We have also worked to sell dormant properties from one client to another, keeping them out of the landfill with a little refurbishment and upgrading.
- Additionally, we are exploring an exhibit-sharing program which could allow rental customers access to otherwise-unused premium custom-built exhibit properties. possible.
While we work to reduce our environmental impact here at Acer, and we encourage others in our industry to do the same, there is only so much we can control. The industry as a whole – including show organizers, fabricators, exhibitors and show attendees – needs to find more ways to reduce the environmental impact of trade shows and events. We are encouraged to see many instances where the industry is making positive changes in this area, and we continue try to reduce our own impact where possible.