How any trade show can implement an affordable bundled solution of reusable bottled water + refill stations that to help achieve zero waste efforts
The Problem: Most Trade Show Sustainability Initiatives do not address single-use plastic bottle waste
Headed to a Natural Products Expo? “Natural” seems to imply a bend toward “Sustainability”; which is a concern for a healthy future. Oh yes, seminars, conferences, trade shows, and the many corporate events that tear into a professional’s time and energy, are having an impact. Stop a moment. Smell the roses; look at the floor around you. The single-use packaging at trade shows, alone, adds tons of pounds every year to our landfills. Most of us by now have seen at least one viral video of plastic trash found in dead whales, fishes, poisoned seabirds, demonstrating how our avalanche of plastic is suffocating wildlife. It’s predicted by 2050 99% of all seabird species will have ingested plastics and that effective waste management can reduce this threat. People are beginning to pay attention to the waste these events leave behind and the environmental footprints involved in holding them. Pressure is growing on management staff for reducing the carbon footprint of their trade shows and increasing their sustainability standards. Our plastic crisis has gotten so out of hand that sustainability coordinators, like the team at Expo West are opting for reusability as a solution.
The Solution: A partnership and bundled solution that goes beyond typical sustainability initiatives
On March 5-9, PATH entered into a unique partnership with the New Hope Network as the first official water sponsor for the Natural Products Expo West 2019. This partnership marked the first time Expo West had a bottled water company help them achieve their zero waste goals by offering a hybrid model that combines purified reverse osmosis bottled water with a 100% reusable bottle attendees could refill at one of the many refill stations. And what’s more essential to sustainability than reusable, truly recyclable packaging? The aluminum recycling system is localized and so robust that even if someone did decide to toss their bottle after one use, it would have the highest rate of being recycled and make its way back onto store shelves as another aluminum bottle or can in as few as 60 days. Here’s how the PATH team introduced this concept to Expo West attendees.
The Implementation: Everyone gets a PATH!
A big part of PATH’s mission is to make sustainability easy to adopt for expos and trade shows by addressing packaging of the most commonly consumed beverage - water. Making reusability and the use of refill stations the norm is one of the most significant impacts we can have on wasteful single-use packaging, expo waste streams, and our polluted plastic planet.
PATH made it a point to get all boots on the ground and greet as many attendees and exhibitors as possible with their very own reusable PATH bottle. The team then made sure to inform attendees about the 13 refill stations available to freely refill their bottles throughout the show. In the 39 years of the history of the show, this is the first time people walked around carrying the industry’s first reusable bottled water. Providing a hybrid option of purified water in a reusable bottle, along with our sponsorship of refill stations, took the Expo’s sustainability effort to all new heights. Let’s see what direct impact this had on the show
Though we are still tallying additional data, here’s a sneak peek of the numbers we know so far:
50,000 bottles handed out during the show
~ 7,000 bottles were refilled at the refill stations inside the convention center
On average Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, averaging about 13 bottles per month for every person in the U.S., which means by using a reusable water bottle, 156 plastic bottles could be saved annually.
That means if 50,000 people discovered reusability, and switched from single-use plastic bottles to a PATH reusable bottled water and reused their bottle for one whole year, we will be able to save 7.8 million bottles from entering our oceans and landfills. This is the impact just 50,000 individuals would make. Imagine if a whole city took this challenge.
The Arena Plaza PATH welcome wagon team members were making sure to get a PATH into each person’s hands as they arrived at the show, some people even being traded for the plastic water bottle (go team!).
At the PATH booth, we were offering samples, not just of the water - but of the REUSABLE bottle, because that’s the whole point. We wanted everyone to have a bottle, keep it with them and refill it throughout the show and beyond. We also had the honor of welcoming Vernon Davis, and Guy Fieri, to our booth as they both stopped by to support this sustainability movement and the PATH mission. Davis and Fieri are just a few of the celebrities that are calling out for bans on single-use plastic water bottles at shows like these. Vernon has joined PATH on a mission to bring healthier bottled water options to the sports industry, where good health is critical to the careers, longevity, and wellness of each athlete.
On a mission to offering an accessible, sustainable lifestyle represented by reusable bottled water, the team at PATH delivered on their objective. We await the final Sustainability Report for Expo West 2019 to see the massive waste reduction from a straightforward shift toward a reusable packaging solution. But we won’t stop here, our simple hybrid bottle and refill stations can be easily implemented for any venue or event.
The Revolution - any event can implement PATH’s affordable bundled solution of reusable bottled water and water refill stations
The success of bottled water packaged for reusability coupled with refill stations is eye-opening and should be considered as the norm for every convention center, stadium, concert hall, school, hotel, and festival, and the list indeed goes on. Imagine what the impact would be if every large venue in the world wholly banned single-use plastic water bottles and replaced them with a reusable option like PATH. Any trade show can begin to set zero waste standards that will inevitably lead to increased profit margins and a noticeable decrease in waste management costs. And let’s not forget the positive impact this would have on the planet, animals, our air quality, our soil, and the general health of our food - fewer plastics, fewer microplastics. It’s the obvious choice to consider for any triple bottom line that recognizes people, planet, and profits - an increasingly important business view. This show is proof that to remain competitive; it’s time to back up Sustainable Initiatives with solutions that genuinely make a dent in the problems that are plaguing us - like single-use plastic water bottles.
We partner with trade shows and large facilities to effectively tackle plastic waste. Contact us to implement this affordable bundled solution for your next event.