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May 20, 2007

SUSTAINABLE STANDS: Could this be the future of events?

Wildcard Creative’s sustainable exhibition stands, launched a last June’s Exhibiting Show, is growing in popularity and recently won the Exhibition News Award for Most Innovative Product for Industry, but just how green and cost-effective are they?

Wildcard’s 100% recycled exhibition system is manufactured from recycled cardboard. The system is a modular set of component parts, which can be configured so suit all environments. Wildcard offers a range of products to support the system such as, a desk, literature holders and seating, all manufactured from recycled material.


Making a stand: Wildcard's recycled exhibition environment 

“We are delighted to have won this award, it just underlines and enhances our growing reputation for quality sustainable design,” says one of Wildcard’s directors Jamie Douglas. “We have been working hard to design new products, which tackle the huge waste problem within the exhibition industry. Since we launched last year, enquiries have steadily increased to an all time high, which illustrates attitudes are beginning to change and exhibitors are starting to take their responsibilities seriously.

More to come
“This is just the beginning,” he continues. “Our aim is to offer exhibitors a truly sustainable alternative for all aspects of live events. We are continually seeking to reduce the carbon impact of exhibitions and we are currently developing the next version of the system. This will be launched once again at the Exhibiting Show this year, at Earls Court in June.”

Wildcard has experienced a surge in interest in its sustainable stand products recently. “Demand is definitely increasing,” says Douglas. “We are currently servicing all sorts of clients from all areas of industry. As far as brand names go we have managed to bag a few along the way, Innocent Drinks, Tetley (GB), ICI Paints, The Co-operative Group.”

Asked whether the stands can be re-used, enhancing further their green reputation and saving money for exhibitors, Douglas replies: “We originally designed the unit as disposable but clients were, understandably, requesting us to make something reusable so they could extract more from their budgets. So we did, we changed the fixings and now the system, if you treat it with a bit of respect, will last over six to eight shows at least. ICI used a 5m run for five road shows and they called us after the final show and said the system was looking as good the fifth time as on the first.

“With respect to cost, we are very competitive,” he continues. “For example, a traditional 3m x 3m pop up sells for around £1,200-£1,500, some of which is structure and some of which is the graphics – say £800 for the structure and £600 for the graphics. A 3m graphic display using our system retails fully printed and boxed ready to go at £800.00 (full colour digital).”

Wiping out waste
Of course, it’s one thing producing stands from recycled materials, but often a large amount of energy actually goes into the recycling process. Has Wildcard considered this?

“We consider all aspects of our business from an environmental perspective not just the products,” counters Douglas. “I'm not aware of any manufacturing techniques that are free from a negative environmental impact, but what I do know is that for every tonne of paper used for recycling (compared with virgin material) the savings are at least 30,000 litres of water, 3,000 to 4,000 KW of electricity (enough for an average three bedroom house for one year) and 95% of air pollution – source wasteonline.org.uk.

“We have always stated we are not environmental crusaders, we just want to make a small difference where ever we can, if everyone chose this path, the problems we have would seem a little less worrying.”

Wildcard could well signal the beginning of the end for the exhibition industry’s appalling reputation for waste.

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