Sustainable Event Buyer’s Guide: The Greener Freight


Events require transportation. There is no way around it. To get your event infrastructure from point A to B, hiring a haulage company is the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective solution.

But is it the most sustainable?

Event Industry News spoke to the director, exhibitions and hotel logistics, at EFM Global Logistics, Luke Bardall, to learn what organisers can do to make their transportation efforts more sustainable.

Are there any steps organisers/suppliers can take to make their event logistics more sustainable?

“Absolutely. The key thing is preparation and investing time to explore the various options available before any given event. A few examples include:

  • Advance warehousing to receive and consolidate shipments and reduce venue traffic and CO2 emissions;
  • Utilising local labour where possible to help boost the local economy;
  • Selecting sea freight or rail freight as more environmentally friendly methods of transportation;
  • Ensuring adequate packing material is used that can handle the return transport leg after an exhibition;
  • Implementing a customs BOND (temporary clearance of goods) to allow the shipment to return without payment of DUTY and TAXES and reduce venue waste.”

Are there any immediate cost-free actions companies can take?

“We offer CO2 measuring and recording as part of being an official supplier to an exhibition with no cost to the organiser or any stakeholders.

“We encourage a pragmatic view to exhibition shipping; for example, re-usable stand material or selecting stands that can be recycled at the close of the exhibition.”

You mentioned ‘advanced warehousing’ – what are the savings here?

“A key objective is to minimise the impact on the local environment. By implementing an advance warehouse, we are reducing the amount of traffic flow at the venue and in some cities, this is a major benefit. Often smaller venues have limited space in the loading area so high volumes of vehicles can cause disruption in the local area.

“Multiple vehicles in a queuing system means engines running and increases carbon emissions – a definite cause of high emissions.”

Realistically, if a truckload needs to get from A to B, can savings be made?

“Yes, in terms of CO2 emissions. Many hauliers are signing up to various schemes to support local sustainability initiatives. It’s worthwhile doing due diligence on who you chose to book a truck with. For instance, choosing to work with UK-based drivers, although more costly than our European counterparts, supports our local economy – another aspect of sustainability.”

How do you help support the local economy?

“Part of sustainability is the economic impact an exhibition can have in a local area. Many cities in Europe now heavily rely on the business an exhibition can bring into the country. From a logistics perspective, sourcing local crews and plant can help boost the local exhibitions industry. We can also impart our local know-how on the product – a top practice which can then be used for locally organised events. A prime example here is hall management staff and implementing systems that can run a show floor with forklifts and crew, cranes or scissor lifts. We aim to always impart an efficiently managed onsite system with the local partner using local labour and expertise.”

How have you helped event planners reduce their carbon footprint in the past?

“We always aim to set aside dedicated time to have a discussion solely on the topic of sustainability. As part of our ISO 20121 accreditation for sustainable event management systems, we analyse the event traits – venue, product, percentage of space only stands vs shell scheme, location of the advance warehouse, local agents and services. Once we have a full picture, we can sit down with our clients and discuss the best methods of practice and implement initiatives.

“Achieving the ISO 20121 requires determination and an open mind to streaming processes and investing in new services and products. This, in turn, requires staff training and educating our clients. The results are extremely rewarding.”

You utilise every method of transportation – air, road, sea and rail – does your carbon footprint impact yours or your clients’ decision-making, or is it always about price and speed?

“99% of the time, the costs are the deciding factor however, we have experienced clients choosing more costly options to reduce the CO2 emissions. An example of this was a world-renowned brand in Switzerland choosing to send their shipments to London 2012 via rail-freight to the advance warehouse. The transit time was increased and so were the costs, but the CO2 emissions were greatly reduced, and this became a focal point of their marketing campaign.”

Read more content like this in our Sustainable Event Buyer’s Guide.

Molly Hookings
Author: Molly Hookings

Molly joined the editorial team in March 2019. She has several years’ experience working in broadcast and journalism, as well as marketing and PR. Past experience includes working for the BBC and independent publishing houses. If you have a story you think Molly might be interested in, please email: