Sustainability Tips and Advice for Exhibitors

Reed Exhibitions would like to encourage exhibitors and contractors to put a higher emphasis on managing:

  • The amount of waste they produce during the exhibition (also see contractual obligations)
  • Material choices for their presence at exhibitions

The following is a list of tips for ensuring a more sustainable presence at our events. We appreciate that your choices have to be economic and appropriate for your corporate image (we are making the same choices ourselves, for the organisation of the event) but believe that there are areas where we can all make more sustainable choices at our exhibitions.

The tips below come from experience and feedback from our exhibitors and suppliers. We will keep this list up to date as we get any new information.

Consider that for every tonne of waste that is produced at an exhibition, 70% is made from materials which cannot be re-used or recycled, 20% of waste is produced simply due to lack of proper planning about the amount of resources required only 10% is truly unavoidable waste which can never be reused or recycled.

Therefore the main objectives should be as below:


  • Include sustainability early in the planning process.
  • Ensure the design meets your objectives without excessive material. The best stand design doesn't always mean the most stand fitting materials.
  • Lighting normally consumes a lot of power (which is expensive in exhibition halls). While you want your stand appropriately lit, choosing different light fittings or reducing the number of fittings could save you money.
  • Reduce waste to the totally unavoidable by using products which can be reused or recycled.
  • If not recycled, some materials (like wood) are widely available from sustainably managed sources. Avoid using tropical hardwoods in furniture and display fittings, unless you can be sure that it comes from a sustainable, managed source. Ask your timber supplier about the origin of the wood and look for the Forest Stewardship Council Trademark – an international symbol that indicates timber products have come from a forest managed to a high standard of agreed environmental, social and economic criteria.
  • If you intend to offer on-stand catering, avoid using disposable cutlery and crockery.
  • Use carpet tiles instead of sheet carpet. If you use sheet carpet ensure that it can be recycled.
  • Maximise the use of prefabricated stand fitting and reduce the construction onsite.  This will save material in the long run and reduce your costs as build and dismantle are quicker.


  • Whenever possible, consider the use of modular display items. Modern systems are both creative and reusable – time and time again.
  • Talk to your stand builder about materials that can be reused several times and that, when no longer suitable for stand construction, can be recycled.
  • If you exhibit at many exhibitions try to reuse as much of the material as possible. If not, allow your contractor to design elements of the stand in such a way that they may have a use for them for other clients in the future.
  • This wastes less material and may reduce costs to you.
  • If you exhibit worldwide you may want to evaluate material reuse vs the cost/impact of shipping between countries/regions.


  • Which of the stand materials can be recycled at the end of their life? Can they still be recycled after you have treated them? (e.g. wood may or may not be able to be recycled depending on the type of paint or finish you apply to it).
  • Have any of your stand materials already been recycled?

Stand marketing collateral

Only bring what you need. Do you know what you need? If not consider measuring a couple of events and see how much collateral you give away. Experience shows that a lot of collateral is left onsite during the dismantling part of the exhibition. £10,000s is wasted by our exhibitors each year in unnecessary printing and shipping costs. Paper is widely available in both recycled format or from sustainably managed sources. Virtually all print can be produced from one of these at no extra cost.

Do you really need that glossy or laminated finish? Ensure that any surface finish that you add to your brochures does not prohibit them from being recycled later.

Advertise your efforts. If your brochures are sourced from sustainable or recycled sources you should say so in your brochure somewhere. Your printer will be able to help you with this. If you include an FSC or similar logo why not add a strap line asking the reader to continue your efforts. Having gone to the effort to make it recyclable, ask them to make sure they do actually recycle the brochure after use.

Branded carrier bags can be a useful marketing tool, but provide sturdy reusable bags, perhaps in cotton, rather than disposable plastic bags. It means your name will be visible for longer!

Demonstrate to staff, suppliers, customers and the world that you recognise and value the importance of a sustainable industry that is both responsible and caring. Visitors to your stand will probably be interested to know what your company is doing for the environment. If you have environmental programmes in place, use this opportunity to tell your potential customers about your activities.

We use cookies to operate this website and to improve its usability. Full details of what cookies are, why we use them and how you can manage them can be found by reading our Privacy & Cookies page. Please note that by using this site you are consenting to the use of cookies.