Why Sustainability Should Be The #Newperspective for FESPA Exhibitors and Visitors.
FESPA 2023 will soon be open for business, and the theme this year is New Perspectives.
One perspective that should be common to everyone at the show is sustainability. For some exhibitors and attendees, sustainability might already be a cornerstone of their activities, but for the majority it is likely they are only at the start of the long journey to reduce their impact on the environment.
The growing awareness of environmental issues and the desire to reduce their carbon footprint are key drivers behind this shift - Signage and display companies often involve the use of materials like plastics, metals, and chemicals that can have a negative impact on the environment. By embracing sustainability, these companies aim to minimise their ecological footprint and contribute to the preservation of natural resources.
Additionally, pressure is coming both from more eco-conscious consumers, who are demanding more environmentally friendly products and services, and governmental laws, regulations and best practices.
Achieving More Sustainable Solutions.
I mentioned a ‘long journey’ earlier because developing a more sustainable approach involves many aspects. It probably begins with a change of ethos, a different way of thinking and of approaching projects, that needs to involve not just staff, but suppliers, stakeholders and (perhaps most challenging) customers.
Putting sustainability to the forefront will impact on investment, recruitment, and operational decisions.
And then this New Perspective will involve many aspects of production. The design of a part, product or component will be impacted by this approach as the choice of material and a desire to maximise product lifecycle will take precedence. Material selection, manufacturing & finishing methods, storage and shipping options will be impacted.
Many signage and display companies for example are increasingly opting for eco-friendly materials such as recycled plastics, biodegradable substrates, sustainable woods, and low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) inks and coatings.
All these decisions can impact on costs and production timescales so clients need to be onboard at all stages.
Responsible. Sustainable. Ethical
One exhibitor’s recent history highlights many of the aspects mentioned above.
For the UK acrylic fabricator Wrights Plastics, one driver for change was a purely business decision. If they wanted to keep working for brands such as Marks & Spencer (and they did) there was a need to comply with the standards required of a Tier 1 supplier, and this meant demonstrating good practice in areas such as sustainability and supply chain management.
But when I first worked with the company there was a genuine desire for change, partly inspired by the retail giants (Plan A) and by the next generation of this family-run business. Internal changes to the organising saw the lowering of energy use, better waste separation and increasing use of recycled material. One notable achievement saw the installation of solar panels to generate carbon-free energy at their West Bromwich production HQ.
They also developed more sustainable products of their own. Their display brand Mid West Displays is exhibiting at FESPA (A2.A80) and launching Claralight™ to the European market, which is their most sustainable range of LED display products, following years of development.
For example, the range’s lead product is an LED lightpocket has been radically rethought. It is over 60% manufactured from recycled material (by nett weight) and a switch to 24v LEDs has led to a 40% energy saving. The pocket is 40% lighter than their standard lightpocket due to the slimmer, smaller design that uses less raw material.
A freestanding LED display stand also maximises the use of recycled material - A Plant A Tree Scheme run with The Future Forest Company sees native broadleaf trees planted with every order. Even the packaging is made from recycled board!
But the range is not the end point for the company – just another stage on the long journey.