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Sustainable Signage: The Future of Environmentally Responsible Trade Shows

Over the past few years, the events industry has been awakening to the urgent need for more sustainable practices, especially regarding signage. It's no secret that single-use plastics have long been a staple of trade shows and conferences. But of course, the unavoidable truth is that (as useful as they are) these materials generate massive amounts of waste. 

That's why we at GES have chosen to step up and take a more proactive role in helping drive our industry in the direction of responsibility and sustainability. As a leader in the events industry, we take pride in that commitment, and we're thrilled to be part of an ongoing, collective effort to protect our environment.

Converd® Board Signage Creates Eco-Friendly Signs

So, what does that look like in practice? GES Canada is a perfect example. In an impressive display of environmentally responsible innovation, our Canadian team is now using Converd Board a 100% recyclable paper-based sheet made with 10% post-consumer waste, and other paper-based materials to replace Foam-Core, Sintra, and Gatorfoam for single-use event signage. Not only is Coverd® lightweight and stable, but it also provides excellent printing results, making it an ideal option for temporary indoor displays.

A Pledge to Use Recyclable Signage

But our commitment to environmentally friendly signage goes beyond just using eco-friendly materials. Back in 2019, GES partnered with the Edmonton Convention Centre on their "Responsible Meetings Program". We pledged to use recyclable signage, a commitment that saw us ushering in the use of Coverd and other paper-based products.

Since then, we've expanded the program to include the Edmonton EXPO Centre and helped Explore Edmonton earn GDSI Certification. We even stamp our signage to ensure it is correctly sorted and finds its way into the appropriate waste stream. After each event, the janitorial team gathers our signage, bales it with other paper and cardboard waste from the convention center, and sells it to a paper recycler.

Today, the versatility of these products has allowed us to find even more uses for them. Beyond meter boards and wayfinding signage, the flat design of the sheets also works wonderfully on surface-clad structures.

Adoption of Environmentally Friendly Signs

If you're wondering how this shift towards eco-friendly signage has panned out, we're pleased to share some remarkable numbers with you. In Edmonton, our recyclable sheet purchases have skyrocketed over the last couple of years. In 2021 recyclable sheet stock represented only 29% of total purchases. Fast forward to 2022, and that number jumped to 67%. About halfway through 2023, we've already we are already over 70% with a goal of 80% for the year. 

These figures aren't just numbers on a page. They're a testament to our commitment to sustainable signage and to our belief that, together, we can make a difference in establishing new industry standards around its use. And when our partners prioritize sustainability, we are there to support them every step of the way.

Our Commitment to Event Sustainability

Here at GES, we know that our path to sustainability is not a journey we undertake alone. It's a collective effort, made possible through the commitment and collaboration of our partners, event organizers, and facilities. Through our work, we're not just contributing to a more sustainable events industry - we're helping to shape it.

As we continue to forge ahead in our sustainability journey, we thank you for your support and commitment. Together, let's continue to make trade shows a model of environmental responsibility with the power of sustainable signage. We invite you to join us in shaping an environmentally responsible future, one sign at a time.