• Joey Soden

What a waste!

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

‘’I pay to buy it; I pay to build it and I pay to throw it away.’’

Ill never forget these words, uttered by an old boss of mine about 15 years ago.

He was referring to the fact that he bought the raw materials, paid people like me to manipulate them into wonderful ‘one off’ products for use in the UK Events Industry, and then at the end, paid for a skip company to send it all to landfill.

I get it, I understand that a high rolling company does not want its exhibition stand to be used to promote somebody else’s product. And the father of the bride, who has just written a check for a cool £250K (Yes, how the other half live…) can’t have his 5 Star Ballroom fit out used for anybody else’s special day. But these restrictions put a lot of pressure on us when it comes to sustainable production.

In 2017 Elf Events Ltd (the predecessor to ELFgroup.co.uk) spent more than £30,000.00 on skips, binning everything from single use event carpet to lengths of timber, to large sections of sheet materials like MDF and Ply. And a lot of it was useful, just not to us…

When project budget allows for waste removal and the next project is only a week away, its much easier to start fresh with the consumable materials, than spend time removing staples and screws. BUT, that was 2017, we do it differently now.

Spurred on by the climate change agenda our clients (both private and corporate) started to request sustainable alternatives in the manufacturing process. And being progressive designers and manufactures we found ourselves quickly gaining knowledge on sustainably sourced materials and alternative build solutions. This started to sort out the front end of the process, but at the back end the skips were still full.

Over the next few months, Ill be sharing some of our solutions to the problem, from working with charities to reuse elements, to finding suppliers that share our concerns. From which raw materials are better (don’t get me started on cable ties, to starting sustainable initiatives like The Natural Bar Company .

by Joey Soden

Joey is the Sustainable Production Director at The Natural Bar Company and has worked in many fields across the Live events industry. He is currently the Head Designer at ELF Ideas, and is passionately determined to find ways to lessen the waste from the industry.