How To Reuse Or Recycle Your Trade Show Display

There are many reasons why trade show exhibits need to be updated, restored, or simply recycled in the normal course of business, and this article will highlight five ways you can reuse or recycle your trade show displays most effectively.

In the same way that home interior design changes over time, with new trends in color, texture, and materials (remember Formica countertops and avocado green appliances?), your trade show display will eventually become dated.

It may require some “spiffing up” to keep it effective in drawing people in. Or the exhibit may become outdated because your needs have changed: your company has grown, and you need a bigger booth than you had before.

60 eras image - things change, recycle trade show display

1960's era woman talking on landline phone - technology and fashion changes over time

Five ways you can reuse or recycle your trade show displays

1) A Good Coat of Paint:

If you enjoy watching DIY shows on TV like I do, you’ll notice that the most frequent way the host updates a room is to slap on a new coat of paint. Changing the color of the room can bring a completely different feel to the place, making it more serene, more welcoming, or more appropriate for its use.

In the same way, your exhibit may simply need a new finish to maintain its ability to represent your company well. In some cases, that is a new paint job. In other cases, refinishing may require the application of some form of substrate, like a laminate product. Even fabrics have their place in booth refurbishing.

This is generally not a DIY project, however. Because of the quality of finish you’re striving for, this isn’t something you’re going to achieve with paintbrushes or rollers. In most cases, trade show booths don’t have much paint on them, but the same principle allies. This face-lift is best left to the experts, but refinishing your exhibit is generally a cost-effective way of breathing new life into your trade show display.

recycle your trade show display by using accessories

2) It’s the Accessories:

There’s a real possibility that your present exhibit still has some life in it but simply needs some accessorizing. Maybe you just need a new stand for a computer tablet, where booth visitors can access information about your company. 

Perhaps you’d be interested in turning your booth cases into a counter, with an ingenious cover-up. It could be that you’re just missing a literature rack, good lighting, or a hanging sign that will float above your display.

Whatever you decide you need, you can give your exhibit a considerable “lift” by simply adding to it with a few accessories. Here at American Image Displays, we carry a full line of accessories to help you accomplish whatever you’re looking for to make your exhibit new again.

3) Growing Up:

You can also breathe new life into your display with additional exhibit properties that help your exhibit expand up or out. If you’ve traditionally been a ten by ten exhibitor, maybe it’s time to branch out and expand to a ten by twenty. 

It’s possible to do this with additions to your present exhibit, but the results may be better if you design your 200 square foot exhibit from scratch. There are many trade show booth designs that allow the booth to be configured into 10ft, 20ft, and even island designs.

It’s also possible to expand up—even with a ten by ten—by introducing a hanging sign. There are several possibilities with this signage in terms of size and shape. You can highlight your logo, website, or unique selling proposition on a wave-shaped fabric panel sign or purchase a circular design offering similar information, hanging above your booth like a crown.

By expanding your footprint, you’re moving up in exhibitors' pecking order since larger exhibits are usually associated with larger companies. So, even if you’re not yet bigger than your competitors, it might be to your advantage to expand since your customers will assume you’re the larger player in your industry.

4) Repurposing:

There are plenty of ways to use an exhibit away from the trade show floor. Think of places where an older exhibit, with some reconfiguration, will help you communicate in unique ways. 

Here are a few to consider:

  • Lobby of headquarters
  • Recruitment programs
  • Sales meeting presentations
  • Management retreats/meetings
  • Employee communication programs
  • Technical presentations
  • Training programs

Remember, you don’t have to use every component of your exhibit. Some situations may require just a back wall or a countertop. Other applications may make use of your graphics or photos. However you configure it, you’re making use of something that might otherwise have ended up on the trash heap.

5) Plain Old Recycling

Recycling doesn’t mean your exhibit has to end up shredded into small pieces. It simply means finding a new purpose for your display. One of the best ways to recycle your outdated exhibit is to donate it to a nonprofit organization. 

Your local food bank, homeless shelter, Boys and Girls Club, foundation, veterans organization, schools, and other charities could—perhaps with a little tax deductible help from you—repurpose your exhibit to help them continue their good works.

If that’s not in the cards, then there’s always the shredder. If you’ve been thinking “green” throughout the lifecycle of your exhibit, there’s a good chance that its parts can be stripped out and reused. 

Ask your exhibit supplier for help with this aspect of recycling. They likely have a program for efficiently disposing of your exhibit while creating the smallest carbon footprint possible.

How many plastic bottles are used to make these trade show graphics

How many plastic bottles would your display re-use if your graphics are printed on our One Planet Recycled Fabric?!

Use Only Green Materials

To lessen your environmental footprint, you can choose to go green if you haven't already. You can guarantee that the new or upcycled materials you use for your exhibit display moving forward are environmentally friendly and conscious. It will also make it easier later when it comes time to recycle your display, hardware, and other components. 

This is especially great if your brand focuses on nature, health, or the outdoors. It lets you tie in your brand with your display's theme while exemplifying what the business message and focus are. 

Recycle Trade Show Display FAQ

Still have questions? Still unsure of what you should do with your old trade show display? Read on for answers to some of the more commonly asked questions.

How do you recycle pop up banners?

Some of the older trade show booths contain a multitude of plastic components that can't always be recycled. However, with the newer booths, you will find that there is more to recycle. Always check with your local recycling center before throwing anything out. These days, you can recycle a few different types of plastics as well. 

However, more modern displays are made from completely recyclable aluminum. So, pop ups and banner stands are now completely recyclable. Fabric graphics that are biodegradable also fall into this category. 

What makes a trade show booth green?

Being green simply means being environmentally responsible. So, a green display is one that utilizes recyclable and sustainable materials and focuses on waste reduction and reducing harmful environmental impact. It is an eco friendly exhibit. While aluminum is recyclable, you can choose to use something even more environmentally friendly for your display. 

Durable recycled fiber tubes or even wood are good choices when choosing to go green with your exhibition booth. The more you learn about the materials you are using, the more informed you are when making decisions.

How do you recycle the electronics you used at trade shows?

If you have old electronics from past trade shows you are no longer going to be using, the best thing to do is bring them directly to your recycler. Many nonprofit organizations and local communities also often have their own options when it comes to recycling old electronics as well. Call your local centers for more information on local electronic drop off locations. 

Is there a disposal fee when getting rid of an old trade show display booth?

Yes, there will be a disposal fee when you throw out your old trade show display booth. However, it then becomes someone else's problem. You can also consider providing them with a list of the recycled materials used in the booth's construction to separate the different parts out for recycling. 

Where do broken booths go?

Many exhibitors choose to pay their exhibit house to dispose of their old booth and materials. It is then up to them to decide what can be recycled, reused, or tossed.

Are you ready to make a change by reusing, recycling, or refurbishing your display? American Image Displays has the resources to help you, whatever your wishes might be. 

As a representative for all major display manufacturers, we can create new elements for your existing exhibit or develop a brand new plan for a booth that will grow with your company’s success. For more information, call us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected].

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