Those of us who have stepped into the halls of an exhibition centre will know that carpeting an exhibition hall can be incredibly wasteful. Large carpet rolls are traditionally loaded into the venue and then scrapped at the end of each event; so when you consider that impact taking place at least weekly in each venue, and on a global scale, the impact is huge. We also must consider the cost implications of such a single-use element taking up a large proportion of budget with often no thought given to re-use opportunity such as donating to community spaces or animal welfare organisations.
Beyond our industry's impact, the lack of circularity of carpet intensifies, as according to Innovate Recycle, in the UK, we produce up to 500,000 tonnes of carpet waste yearly, of which 56% is sent to landfill, and 44% of waste is typically diverted away from landfill. Of the diverted carpet waste, 73% of it is incinerated for energy and only the remaining is then shredded for re-use in outdoor equine surfaces. The numbers aren’t great, and there is still a huge number of emissions being released through a lot of these historic processes.
However, there are some incredible innovations and decisions taking place across the event industry that allows for optimism to shine through.
One of our clients was due to exhibit at a large trade show in a booth sized at 73,000 sqft, which is almost as big as a football pitch. By doing some measurement calculations, we found that if they were to not use carpet in that space, they would save 992.18 metric tonnes of CO2e from entering the atmosphere. This is the equivalent to planting 4961 tree seedlings and letting them grow for 10 years before those emissions would be offset. Once we showed them the data, the decision was simple, there was no requirement for carpet on such an impactful level.
Rewind are offering a new solution and have designed event carpets that are 100% recyclable which are made from pellets of polypropylene which can then be reprocessed back into those same pellets. Typically, carpets would be made from multiple materials to produce the backing, the top layer and the adhesive to keep it all together, but all elements of their carpets are made of polypropylene, which means the carpet can be recycled all in one go, rather than needing to expend energy to separate out the materials before recycling. This process uses 55% less CO2 than traditional event carpet, and uses no water, no latex and 85% less energy to produce. This new carpet is being rolled out (literally!) by the team at Whitespace Group and is currently going to cost exhibitors the same amount to install as their Xpo-Rib carpet solution.
It is very exciting to see some well-utilised innovation to reduce the impact of this mighty contributor to events industry emissions.