Trade Show Perspective

Trade Show Perspectives: Recycling Tips for Booth Displays

Recycling…the act of reusing stuff. This is an act each of us should consider and do our part to contribute to. For many years, the exhibition industry was known to be a significant contributor to waste, not recycling. Fortunately, the industry is striving to eliminate waste and to recycle as much as possible.

Most exhibit companies offer the option to construct exhibits with recycled materials, but quite often the end user chooses not to use them because of the additional costs of recycled materials. This has been especially true since the economy went south.

The good news is that the price for many recycled materials is becoming more competitive with new materials, which will allow for more usage.

This 20’x 40’ rental exhibit used many of the same truss components as the E-Prime exhibit.

EcoSystem Displays is an exhibit company that leads the industry in working with recycled materials. They go above and beyond in finding recycled substrates and materials to construct their exhibits. You can visit their website at for more information about this industry leading exhibit recycler.

A Few Tips on Exhibit Recycling

There are dozens of ways to make recycling your exhibit easier. Here are a few good tips:

  • Create exhibits that can be re-configured into multiple shapes and sizes. Think in terms of 10' x 10' spaces and how each exhibit component may fit into 10' x 10' spaces. For the larger exhibits, they can be multiple 10' x 10' spaces joined together.
  • Provide your customer designs showing how the exhibit components can be used in both large and small configurations.
  • Create exhibits that can be used for various marketing functions besides trade shows, such as:
    • Receptions
    • Lobby Displays
    • Sales Meetings
    • Technical Presentations
    • Management Meetings
    • Employee Communication
    • Recruiting Programs
    • Training Programs
  • If you are asked to design a new exhibit, see if you can incorporate elements from their existing exhibit. The recycled elements may need to be refurbished, but this will aid in the cutting down on the production waste of building an entirely new exhibit.
  • Renting of exhibits is a major act of recycling. A booth structure can be re-used many times. We own a Nomadic Display pop-up frame structure that was manufactured nearly 20 years ago and is still in very good shape. Although the fabric panels have been replaced multiple times, the aluminum structure has been rented many times throughout the years.
  • Renting carpet is also a good way to recycle. However, you will want to be sure that the supplier provides carpet that is clean and in good condition.
  • Use “raw” construction materials such as the finished surface instead of laminates. Often a person can re-paint or refinish a raw construction material and use it for a different application. However, when a plastic laminate is applied to the raw material, it will often shorten the usable display life of the raw material and the laminate will make it harder to reuse the raw material for other applications.
  • Replace traditional graphic elements with electronic devices. When a traditional graphic, whether it be fabric or vinyl, is created, it will often only be used for a limited number of shows. An electronic device, such as an iPad or flat screen monitor can be reused for an unlimited number of shows. The graphic message can simply be changed as often as desired, even during the show. The beauty of this form of visual communication is that it is interactive, which ultimately creates a more memorable experience for show attendees and increases their memory retention.
  • Donate an exhibit to a non-profit. This is a great way to extend the life of an exhibit. Often, used exhibits are hard to sell, so, consequently, they end up in a landfill. But if you donate the exhibit, you are recycling it to a new owner, and you will probably be able to get a tax credit for it as well. Check with your accountant to verify this procedure.
  • Use recycled substrates and materials to construct an exhibit, such as:
    • Recycled aluminum
    • MDF boards made of scrap wood
    • Recycled fabrics
    • Recycled packing materials

This large exhibit rental was used at Globalcon by Public Service Company, and featured a significant amount of truss to make a visual statement.

Be Creative

Recycling…the act of reusing stuff! I am now going to recycle an old saying, “Think outside of the box.” Be creative… be imaginative… be different. Look around you and come up with unusual uses for various materials and substrates. Your exhibit will not look like all the other exhibit booths, and you will have helped eliminate waste. Another old saying, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.” This can be the beauty of recycling!