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What is the Better Stands programme?

The Better Stands programme is aimed to unite and encourage exhibitors, along with their appointed contractors to move away from disposable, single use stands at events, in favour of re-usable or recyclable structures. 

A disposable stand/booth is a space only/raw space build that is used only once. They are typically constructed from poor quality raw materials onsite which are then demolished post show and sent to either landfill or are burned.

What is a disposable stand?

When we talk about disposable stands, we mean single use, disposable booths that are sent to landfill or incineration after single use at an event.  

Why are we requesting exhibitors stop using this kind of stand?

Disposable stands create considerable environmental and safety issues onsite through the amount of waste generated, the heightened risks due to unsafe construction practices and the toxic impact of raw stand materials being used. Quality of finish is often also compromised due to working time pressures.

What is a reusable/non-disposable stand?

A non-disposable/reusable stand is constructed using materials designed to be used multiple times. There are almost endless variations of multiple use stands to suit every size and desired appearance and as the cost of these stands is generally lower than for disposable stands this helps to reduce outlay and provide a better investment.  

What are the benefits of Better Stands?

There are many benefits to the programme, these range from commercial opportunities through introduction of new product inventory, to customer experience, colleague wellbeing, and the rise of onsite Health and Safety standards.

Why doesn’t the Better Stands Framework currently cover the logistical impact of shipping reusable stands compared to the potential waste savings made by eliminating disposable standss?

  • We know that travel and transport is the highest cause of event emissions globally. It is an area that needs a huge amount of attention and innovation in order to improve. 
  • By piloting and promoting the Better Stands framework, we aren’t suggesting that the impact of travel and transport should be ignored. 
  • After travel and transport, reports are starting to show that production materials are often the 2nd highest cause of emissions at exhibitions. 
  • The Better Stands programme is one project, focusing on one specific area of the industry, aiming to support the circular economy and reduce waste by promoting and encouraging the use of reusable stands. 
  • This is what the Better Stands programme is aiming to tackle. There are other industry projects and initiatives focusing on travel and transport.

How will the Better Stands pilot consult with contractors?

Organisers within the Better Stands steering committee are aiming to develop a standardised approach to promoting sustainable stand builds at their events.

We understand that when implementing change to a way of working, it’s very important that all relevant stakeholders are regularly engaged and consulted. Therefore we will actively seek the knowledge and expertise of contractors throughout the Better Stands pilot. 

One of the fundamental reasons behind this collaboration of multiple organisers is to ensure that the supply chain has a single consistent framework to guide them when it comes to sustainable stand builds, and the subsequent requirements that will become part of the steering committee’s event guidelines in future.

What does it mean for exhibitors?

Exhibitors must make their appointed stand contractor aware of the regulations that are in place for your event and brief them to design and build a sustainable, multiple use stand.

What do exhibitors and/or their appointed contractors receive as a result of Better Stands?

  • Exhibition stands receive a Bronze, Silver or Gold rating for their overall reusability. 
  • The contractor gets informed first of their stands rating post-show and is given an opportunity to provide feedback on the observations before it gets sent to the exhibitor. 
  • Exhibitors get informed of the rating their stand build has achieved once the contractor has had the opportunity to review.
  • We hope for the rating system to provide commonality of approach when considering sustainability as part of stand build and production. 

The Better Stands programme is going to lose us business as clients opt for system stands over self build

The programme is about materials and stand re-use, not how stands are built. Self-build stands will always feature highly at events as a way for companies to show off their brand, and can be sustainable. The programme is supporting further thinking on how these stands are built and re-used, not restricting them to system stands.

Who gets notified of the rating, us or our clients?

All organisers have their own communications processes, so this will depend on the organiser. However; this has already been raised within the pilot group and it is something we want to better formalise with input from ESSA members.

Is there a right to appeal? 

As above; this is being addressed by the pilot group and we will build in any recommended processes to the programme. Discussion on understanding the rating process is always welcome.

Why is the Steering Committee only made up of event organisers?

The Steer Co is made up of only event organisers because it is organisers that will be responsible for implementing the Better Stands programme at their events. We are aware that the implementation of Better Stands will impact contractors and therefore we are actively involving contractors from differing geographies in the pilot on a consultative basis. The advice and expertise of contractors is invaluable if we hope to achieve widespread adoption of the framework. 

Better Stands is ultimately a change management programme. As organisers we understand that change ultimately has to come from the exhibitors who are the shared clients between organisers and contractors. Through this programme we aim to educate and guide our exhibitors to make more sustainable choices from the outset and when briefing their contractors.

What will happen once the 6 month pilot period is complete?

By the end of the 6 month pilot period we aim to have developed a full Better Stands toolkit of resources designed to support any exhibition organiser wanting to implement the programme. 

Many of the ‘pilot events’ trade after the 6 month mark, so it may be that more testing and development is required.

At the 6 month mark we intend to provide a public update on progress and clear next steps. 

What will be included in the Better Stands ‘toolkit’?

The intention for the Better Stands ‘toolkit’ is to provide a guided and standardised approach to implementing the Better Stands programme that any exhibition organiser can easily adopt. From pre and post event comms support, training tools for onsite observations, to data collection templates, we hope to develop a full suite of resources to make implementation as easy as possible. The toolkit will be made up of 10 different organisers experiences and needs in terms of resources, hopefully providing the diversity required to ensure widespread usability. 

How do the onsite observations work for Better Stands?

Each organiser implementing Better Stands on their pilot events will be completing onsite observations utilising the 10 box framework. How these onsite observations will be carried out is down to individual organiser discretion and subsequent resource availability. Any questions related to an individual event's onsite observations should be directed to the relevant organiser in question

Will all event organisers participating in the pilot be ensuring that all organiser owned feature areas are waste- free?

This is of course the long term goal for all steer co members, with some already achieving this. As a minimum, we will be communicating with our official contractors to let them know our expectations around waste-free features and will be doing our utmost to make this a reality for the pilot events.

How can I join the Better Stands Steering Committee? 

In the interest of productivity, the Better Stands Steering Committee will remain closed to new members until March 2024, at which point the group will provide an update via this website on how and when new organisations can participate in the Better Stands programme. By that time we hope to have developed a full suite of resources, ready to support organisers to implement Better Stands at their events and we will actively seek further organisations willing to pilot the programme and provide constructive feedback. In the meantime, we encourage you to register your interest via our mailing list and we will be in touch as soon as we have more updates to share.

When are the next events involved in the Better Stands programme running? 

Event name Event Organiser Dates Venue
Pharmapack Europe Informa 24/01/2024 - 25/01/2024 Paris Expo, Paris
ICE London Clarion Events 06/02/2024 - 08/02/2024 ExCel, London
Surface Design Show Montgomery Group 06/02/2024 - 08/02/2024 BDC, London
Distributech Clarion Events 27/02/2024 - 29/02/2024 OCCC, Orlando, Florida
National Equine Show Raccoon 02/03/2024 - 03/03/2024 NEC, Birmingham
IMEX Frankfurt IMEX 14/05/2024 - 16/05/2024 Messe, Frankfurt
Utility Week Live Faversham House 21/05/2024 - 23/05/2024 NEC, Birmingham
Asia Tech x Singapore Informa 29/05/2024 - 31/05/2024 Singapore, Singapore
Shoptalk Europe Hyve 03/06/2024 - 05/06/2024 Fira Gran Via, Barcelona
MOVE 2024 Terrapinn 19/06/2024 - 20/06/2024 ExCel, London
Reset Connect Reset Connect 25/06/2024 - 26/06/2024 ExCel, London
ReThink HK EnviroEvents 12/09/2024 - 13/09/2024 HKCEC, Hong Kong
CPHI Milan Informa 08/10/2024 - 10/10/2024 Fiera Milano, Milan
Event Sustainability Live AMP Events 21/11/2024 - 22/11/2024 ExCel, London
Event Tech Live AMP Events 21/11/2024 - 22/11/2024 ExCel, London