At the beginning of the year, I talked about some of the eco-friendly products that were featured at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). However, I didn’t go into great detail as to how sustainability was carried out as a major theme of the venue itself. Now that several months have passed since the event, CES has crunched the numbers and issued a press release and YouTube video outlining what was accomplished.
Organized by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), sustainability has grown in prominence at the tradeshow in recent years. In the 2011 show, CES worked with contractors including Repurpose America to recycle 77 percent of solid waste, which totaled about 290 tons. For this year, CES says it recycled 75 percent of solid waste (no weight was given), but despite the lower rate, stated they “collected a record amount of materials to recycle and repurpose.”
Among the materials reused/recycled were roughly 29,000 square feet of vinyl banners (double the amount from 2011), and 20,000 lbs of magnetic banners (up 2,000 lbs from last year). Additionally, CES collected nearly 16,000 square feet of miscellaneous show signs, and for the first time ever, recycled nearly 50,000 lbs of tradeshow publications.
While collecting these materials is great for the environment, it’s more interesting to hear about how they are being used. The vinyl banners from the 2011 show were used to make 190,000 badge holders for the 2012 show. Of those badge holders, 11,000 were collected and will be reused in 2013. The vinyl banners were also used as sunshades in a local school and community center. The magnetic banners that were diverted were used in local manufacturing processes (see YouTube video below).
As the largest tradeshow in the world, CES also makes a difference by offering its exhibitors sustainable packaging options. For example, companies can opt for low-impact display graphics, metals, and carpeting (CES says it now uses recyclable carpet in all of its exhibit halls). While the cost and number of exhibitors actually going this route are unclear, providing this choice–as well as recycling waste produced by its exhibitors–show that environmental sustainability is a central concern of the organization.