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National Association of Music Merchants


In tune with sustainability


Setting the standard to go green

For more than 30 years, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and Freeman have collaborated on The NAMM Show, the annual event that attracts more than 99,000 attendees and 1,620 exhibitors. During that time, the event has evolved to meet the diverse needs of the music merchant community.

In recent years, the community has become increasingly interested in ways to reduce the event’s environmental impact. NAMM approached us to look for ways that The NAMM Show could reduce waste, increase recycling, and reuse event materials to divert waste to local landfill.

Working across several departments, we created a green event plan to outline the sustainability efforts that would take place before, during, and after the show. The plan, which can be adapted to any size event in any industry, is now the standard for all Freeman clients who are interested in improving their sustainability efforts by implementing the five 'R's: Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose.

Our green event plan template included an environmental purchasing policy (e.g., preference for products containing post-consumer recycled content); a “pack in, pack out” policy for exhibitors, encouraging exhibitors to ship only the promotional materials needed and to send remainders back to their offices (instead of disposing of them on the show floor); and an online exhibitor kit, which reduced the amount of paper used and the amount of energy needed to deliver the kits.

Setting a new sustainable standard

To measure the outcomes of the plan, we provided NAMM with a post-show environmental performance report that included data to measure the sustainability of the event and to provide benchmarks for future events. Categories tracked included fuel used for transport and show management freight; propane usage by forklifts and boom lifts; use and reuse of carpet, graphics, and other materials (e.g., table-top vinyl, Visqueen); and staff air travel.

“The Loft Restaurant and Lounge” is a popular networking area on the show floor that features comfortable seating areas, newsstands, charging stations, and food and beverages. In designing the area, we utilized several sustainability and waste diversion best practices, including thinking through the life cycle of the materials used and potential reuse or disposal plans.

Measurable, repeatable success

Since its inception, our green event plan template has guided NAMM and Freeman to find innovative ways to produce an environmentally friendly event that still meets the needs of The NAMM Show’s attendees and exhibitors.

We innovated in many different ways, including printing interior signage on honeycomb, a direct print high-quality corrugated cardboard that is 100% recyclable. Carpet in The Loft is made of 50% recycled content and is returned to inventory for future use before eventually being recycled. Aluminum extrusions for media racks and charging stations contain 85% recycled content and are returned to inventory for future use before eventually being recycled. And mesh banners used on the exterior of the event venue are undated and can be used multiple times.

The Freeman green event plan allows us to tap into their staff expertise and experience from other events. It is a solid foundation to build event sustainability goals now and in the future.

Cindy Sample

NAMM Director of Trade Show Operations

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