Events and exhibitions often lead to high levels of waste and carbon emissions, but the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is tackling this challenge head-on with a pilot zero-waste booth at FHA-Food & Beverage 2023, which is taking place at Singapore EXPO from 25-28 April.
STB along with Informa Markets and key players in the MICE industry as part of the Global MICE Sustainability Alliance, developed the STB destination booth in collaboration with sustainability technology firm Miniwiz.
The strategic decision to feature the net-zero booth at FHA 2023 was driven by the immense scale of the event, with 68 group pavilions and over 1,300 exhibitors in attendance. Recognising the show's potential to spark conversation and inspire action, STB and Informa Markets saw this as a golden opportunity to raise awareness and to encourage the industry to run business events in a more sustainable manner
“The zero-waste booth is hopefully going to be a game-changer where waste management is concerned,” said Yap Chin Siang, deputy chief executive of STB. “In particular, the exhibition industry generates significant wood waste during booth construction and dismantling. By introducing the zero-waste booth, the board aims to raise awareness among industry players that this option is a sustainable and cost-effective alternative.”
Low footprint ≠ high costs
Compared to traditional booths, this new design has a 45% lower carbon footprint and costs the same amount to produce, according to Mark Wee, managing director (Southeast Asia), Miniwiz.
The proof-of-concept exhibition booth at FHA-Food & Beverage 2023 was made entirely from upcycled materials, including recycled PET plastic and fabric, recycled textile waste, and recycled aluminium. It can be dismantled, packed, and reused for future events.
During M&C Asia’s walk-through of the booth, Wee explained that the booth was created in a process that involves shredding plastic waste, heating it until it is soft, and forging it into the desired shape. The carpet is made from recycled PET bottles that have been felted, while the booth's framing is made of recycled aluminium, so there is no waste generated in the process.
The zero-waste booth can be reused in several ways. It can be purchased by exhibitors to be repeatedly used as its modular design allows for the booth size to be easily adjusted and reconfigured to different layouts. Alternatively, it can be rented out by third-party players for other shows, and event venues with storage units can also leverage the system to lower their exhibition footprint.
More than one way to reach net-zero
Informa Markets, the organiser of FHA, is also leading by example and has implemented a series of sustainable initiatives to reduce waste and the carbon footprint of exhibitions, and inspire exhibitors to do the same.
These measures include reusing most materials, donating all wood structures and scraps to a wood recycling company, which could reduce waste by 80%, and using eco-friendly carpet and e-badges, Janice Lee, event director for hospitality, food & beverage – Singapore at Informa Markets told M&C Asia. Even cooking oil used by exhibitors at FHA is recycled to make biodiesel.
To acknowledge exhibitors who use sustainable practices, Informa Markets awards them with Better Stand certificates. Additionally, Informa Markets educates its exhibition attendees through seminars and panel discussions about sustainable MICE practices. Many exhibitors at FHA have been observed to be using biodegradable serve ware and sustainable packaging, demonstrating their conscious efforts toward sustainability.
“There is still more to be done, but both organisers and exhibitors play important roles in ensuring sustainability in the MICE industry,” Lee said. “The proof-of-concept net-zero booth partnership with STB and other stakeholders aims to raise awareness and encourage the adoption of sustainable practices throughout the industry.”
More sustainable exhibitions ahead
STB’s Yap expressed his hope for a greater uptake of the zero-waste booth in the MICE industry, especially when the cost of building this type of booth was already comparable to traditional methods. If more exhibitors adopt the zero-waste booth on a larger scale, it will eventually become more cost-effective than building booths from scratch.
“Beyond FHA, we hope the entire MICE industry will gradually respond to this. We want events across all genres to become more and more sustainable, so using booths like this will be a very good demonstration for that,” said Yap.
To further raise awareness of this new solution, STB is collaborating with other event organisers to showcase the zero-waste booth at their exhibitions.
“We also want to create a marketplace different industry leaders to come together and discuss about sustainability for their own respective industries. Singapore has already attracted quite a few sustainability-themed events, including the Ecosperity Week (6 – 8 Jun 2023), Singapore Carbon Market & Investor Forum (19 – 20 Jul 2023), Global Sustainable Tourism Council Global Conference 2024 (Nov 2024).”