In 2018 we supported Final Straw Cornwall at our Expowest Cornwall trade show. Final Straw Cornwall is a campaign to rid Cornwall of single use plastic straws and raise awareness of the damage single use plastics are causing to our environment. They ran a Straw Amnesty where businesses visiting the show could bring in their old plastic straws. Over the course of the event, they collected around thirty thousand straws from a broad cross-section of businesses; takeaways, restaurants and hotels, for up-cycling later.
Inspired by the levels of support for the campaign, from so many different businesses, organisations and individuals within the Cornish community, we have decided to aim to go single-use plastic free at all of our 2019 trade shows. We will be actively looking for environmentally-friendly alternatives to any single use plastic used at our shows.
As well as no longer using plastic carrier bags, we are planning to stop using plastic wallets for exhibitor and visitor badges, which tend to be only used once, and then thrown away. We have come up with innovative solutions for 2019, that enable our exhibitors and visitors to pre-print their badges, or collect them on arrival, and then use completely recyclable badge clips to fix them to their clothing, or bags, avoiding the need for wallets.
Our MD Mike Anderson said: “We will look back on this time with incredulity. Plastic can be a fantastic and practical product, if multi-use or fully recyclable, but it is so irresponsible to dispose of items that have only been used for few minutes or hours. We will be doing everything we can to cut down on and ultimately remove any single-use plastic items”.
We’re also trying to better manage general waste at our shows and, for example, work with QCR Recycling Equipment who provide innovative solutions to save money, space and time on waste. They crush and bale cardboard at the shows, sending less to landfill.
We also work closely with event caterers to remove single use plastic from their offerings. At Expowest Cornwall, Truro & Penwith College, the event caterers, has introduced a wave of environmental improvements and initiatives aimed at reducing single-use plastics and creating a cleaner environment for Cornwall. They have removed single-use-plastics from the restaurant, and replaced them with compostable paper cups, biodegradable take away containers and cutlery. They also stock re-sealable cans of water, made from aluminium, which are 100% recyclable, instead of plastic water bottles
It doesn’t stop there though, we will also be working with our event exhibitors, suppliers and contractors to help minimise the plastic waste brought to their trade shows by other organisations. It looks like Final Straw Cornwall was the final straw for waste at all of our shows!