Meet Ecobooth, the sustainable events company striving to change how the industry tackles waste.
Nick Marks, founder of Ecobooth, has some thoughts about events companies that claim to be sustainable.
“There are companies who to this day are still saying ‘60/70 per cent is reused’, and the reality is that it’s three to five per cent, it’s tiny,” he tells EN. “A lot of it isn’t malicious it’s just a lack of understanding. People might think that something being burnt counts as it being recycled because it’s incinerated for energy. The reality is it doesn’t, and that’s not good enough anymore.”
Ecobooth is a young company, having launched in September 2018 as a truly zero-waste solution for organisers and brands. The company collects waste plastic and transforms it into a wide range of potential structures.
“We do the same stuff that you get at an event production house,” says Marks. “Circular economy events, environmentally-driven events, external events, roadshows, product launches […] using entirely recycled materials, that are entirely recyclable at the end.
“It’s genuine zero waste and zero damage. We deliver in electric vehicles. Our production house runs off renewable energy. We’re a zero-waste company. Those are all credentials that this industry has failed to adopt yet, even though other industries are doing so.”
While many companies in the events industry have a sustainability policy in some form or another, Marks believes there is a long way to go.
“I think the events industry has been sweeping it under the carpet for a long time,” he says. “There’s an element of deliberate greenwashing, which I think is a real problem and needs to be addressed head on. But there’s also a learning that needs to happen.
In general, the brands that come here are coming to say, ‘we don’t even know what event sustainability is. We want to do it, we know we should be, but where do we start?’ That’s the right approach; the best way to start is just put your hands up and say, ‘we know we haven’t been doing it right and we want to change’.
Many of the company’s customers are big, global brands which, in addition to any existing passion for sustainability they might have, are required to account for their impact on the environment to external bodies.
“The smaller guys aren’t,” adds Marks. “If you look at the companies coming [to Ecobooth], there’s no one in there that wouldn’t be classified as a major company.”
When Marks was carrying out research ahead of launching the company, one major piece of feedback from marketers kept appearing again and again – the finished product couldn’t ‘look recycled’.
“So that’s how we’ve developed all the products here,” he says. “Our press boards are exactly the same as plywood boards and the stuff we 3D print looks better than anything else you see in the events industry. So there’s a there’s a quality of the product as well.”
Ecobooth has recently secured a partnership with financial event Sibos, which will have a ‘repurpose with purpose’ programme and where Ecobooth will be available to build sustainable exhibition stands.
Chantal Van Es, head of Sibos, said: “Every year we strive to create a positive legacy that lasts for generations to come and so we very much welcome this exciting new partnership with Ecobooth.”
Marks believes that a sea-change is on the horizon for sustainability in the events industry.
“I spoke with the biggest companies in the industry and they’re looking at Ecobooth very carefully, they know it’s coming,” he concludes. “They want to just keep going where they are making their money until the last possible minute. I think I think that’s done, I think they’ve got to that minute. You’ll see a lot of changes over the next 12 months.