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Five South African exhibition suppliers have committed to sponsor research into the use of wood and wood products in exhibitions, with a specific focus on how much of this material is used, how it is disposed of as waste, and how it can be used more responsibly. This move, of a few companies funding a project for the greater good of the industry, is unprecedented, and indicative of a growing conviction among business that more needs to be done to promote responsible practices within the industry.

The five companies are: African Graphix, bluClube, Inspire Furniture Rentals, New World and Scan Display.

Says Gill Gibbs, one of the directors and owners of bluCube, “We have to ensure that any negative effects of what we do are minimised, and that behaviours that positively impact the environment are emphasised. Quid quo pro. In the context of our industry and timber, our mantra is ‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’. We cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings, the diversity of life on earth or its ecosystems, unless we embrace sustainability.’’

Leruo Sandamela, Director at African Graphix, agrees with this mindset, and says, “African Graphix believes in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals issued by the United Nations to transform our world, and has pledged to strive to achieve these goals. We want to be part of the movement that will build a better future for the world.”

The research was initiated by the non-profit organisation the Event Greening Forum (EGF), after its committee members noticed a trend towards more custom exhibition stands being commissioned. These stands are generally made from MDF board (which is derived from wood), are single use and end up in landfill.

The EGF’s primary objective is to promote sustainability within the business events industry, and it sees research and knowledge as the foundation to being able to advise best practice alternatives.

The research will also include findings on what creative solutions, both locally and overseas, the industry has innovated to minimise wood waste.

Out of a number of proposals, the University of Pretoria was chosen to conduct the research. To cover the cost, the EGF invited the industry to sponsor the research. Six sponsorships of R10 000 each were proposed. With five sponsorship spots already being taken, one still remains should any company be interested. All sponsors will be acknowledged for their financial support in the published research.

Chad Botha, the founder of Inspire Furniture Rentals and recently nominated EGF treasurer, adds, “I believe that it is important for all of us to give back and make the world a better place for everyone. We need to consider our future generations and ensure that we do whatever we can to do this. Every bit of input, no matter how small or big, will contribute to this, and Inspire Furniture wants to be able to look back and know that we contributed to a better world.”

If you would like to take up the remaining sponsorship opportunity, please contact Lynn McLeod for more information, on 082 891 5883 or lynn@eventgreening.co.za.

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