sustainable events

Exhibition floor made from plastic waste

or how we re-purposed the leftovers from the production of these veterinary cages into award-winning event flooring……

Sustainability is the word on everybody’s lips, especially in the exhibition industry who are notorious for the amount of waste it generates. Like most other industries, it has produced various think-tanks, articles and pledges to do something about it in the future, but aside from throwing in a vegan caterer or banning straws, it’s pretty much business as usual. There’s only a small minority of exhibitors who are bold enough to take it further than lip service.
 
So we were absolutely delighted when David Pattenden, the marketing manager from market leader Burtons Veterinary Equipment, approached us with a fantastic proposition. Their manufacturing plant generated a reasonable amount of plastic offcuts when fabricating their best-selling pet cages – could we repurpose this material into their exhibition flooring?
cable management flooring for exhibitions
Cableflor is an exhibition floor system that combines cable management with a finished surface, as a sustainable alternative to the traditional platform and carpet combination.
 
Carpet is usually the biggest area of single use plastic at exhibitions – aside from all of the carpet tape, stands are also usually covered with polythene during build up. Some of the carpets are recyclable, but they are all virgin plastic and thrown away after only a couple of day’s use.
 
No-one knows how much is recycled, or burnt, or thrown into landfill, but to give an indication of the scale of the problem, there’s about 6 million square metres of exhibition space every year in the UK. That’s a whole mountain of single use plastic and it’s been that way for decades.
 
sustainable exhibition design
As a self-build system, Cableflor was designed to be as lightweight and as low-level as possible. Practical benefits are that it takes up less space and payload in your transport, plus it can be assembled by anyone.
 
From a production point of view it also means that less plastic is required for manufacture – less than 5kgs per square metre.
 
Burtons were able to supply us with three big bags of offcuts and this was plenty to make them up 50 square metres of flooring – this would be the first time that we could make exhibition flooring from plastic waste, that actually came from the client.
 
The type of plastic they use for their cages is a high quality Polypropylene CoPolymer, which is ideal for recycling. It’s relatively low energy and doesn’t release noxious fumes like other plastics such as PVC (no-one likes PVC).
 
As pre-consumer plastic, it was also clean and free from graphics or stickers. It came in a couple of different whites and beige – the first part of the process was to grind it down and de-dust it.
 
This separates the smaller particles that are unsuitable for injection moulding, leaving granules approximately 4mm ready for manufacture. We are keeping the ‘dust’ so that it can be extruded into 3D printer filament, in order that it can also be used for production, for a zero waste solution.
recycled exhibition flooring
Injection moulding is a process whereby plastic granules are poured in to a funnel at one end of the machine, which are heated until molten and then squirted into a mould (called a tool) at the other end.
 
Cold water then rushes around the tool to rapidly solidify the plastic, which is then ejected and the tiles are assembled into metre square sheets as it comes off the machine.
sustainable events
Burtons’ first event was the BSAVA exhibition at the prestigious Manchester Central venue, formerly known as GMEX.
 
The area was 8m x 4m and the whole floor was assembled by one person in about an hour, including electrics.
 
Where-ever power or data is required, you simply remove one of the tiles and then clip the sheets together. There are no tools or fixings required and no special skills.
eco-friendly event flooring
Cableflor has a simple embossed wave pattern on it, creating texture and a non-slip surface. Its hard-wearing and very easy to clean, either with a mop and bucket or even better, a steam mop
 
Burtons aim to do 4 or 5 shows a year and their flooring should be good for around three years – after which, it can be ground back down and remoulded into fresh stock.
 
If they do happen to get any damage it’s very quick and easy to replace tiles, rather than a whole sheet.
sustainable exhibition flooring
The flooring costs £75 per square metre and the MOQ is 50sqm – compared to the hire and installation of a platform floor and then overlaying a carpet with aluminium trim, it will pay for itself after about 3 events.
 
In summary it’s quicker, cheaper and more sustainable than anything else on the market. If you would like us to make exhibition flooring from plastic waste, that comes from your own manufacturing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch
 
We really appreciate that Burtons were bold enough to commit to a sustainable alternative – plenty of companies give it lip-service, but rarely do they walk like they talk!

Re-purpose | Re-use | Re-mould | Repeat

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