LAS VEGAS – As exhibitors at the International CES showcase for consumer electronics packed up their booths last week, workers were just getting started recycling what was left behind.
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Convention-goer badges become room keys, vinyl banners get a new life as ice-skating rink covers or shade tarps and massive magnetic signs affixed to the convention center are ground up and made into new magnets, for example.
CES boasted more than 2.2 million square feet of exhibits and 160,000 attendees at the weeklong event. Considered North America's largest trade show, the event is contracted to return to Las Vegas in 2016 and 2017, and space is reserved through 2025, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Jeff Chase, vice president of sustainability for Freeman — the show's hired coordinator — said it's been the goal of his company and the Consumer Electronics Association to do what they can to not let anything go to waste.
In the past, the hundreds of exhibitors displaying products with an eye on the future would pack up the framework of their booths and reach out individually, if at all, to nonprofits to volunteer the items they had no use for beyond the show. Everything that was left would likely end up in a landfill, Chase said.
This year, for the first time, the show's organizers reached out to trash and recycling haulers ahead of the event and coordinated with companies and three Las Vegas area nonprofits to find a home for some of their temporary displays by the week's end.
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The picnic tables from Audi's outdoor display were donated as were the kitchen cabinets from the booth of electronics-maker LG and the wood flooring and barbecue grills in Sony's exhibit.
Habitat for Humanity made use of the construction materials. Opportunity Village took the furniture, appliances, lamps and shelves, for example. And Teachers Exchange accepted any leftover notebooks, pens and lanyards, Chase said.
Other wood and material would be ground up into mulch and given to the Moapa band of Indians near Las Vegas, which contracts with the state of Nevada to spread the material on the sides of roads to prevent erosion, Chase said.
Jeff Joseph, senior vice president of communications and strategic relationships, said that in 2014, the show recycled 108,000 square feet worth of signs and banners and 74 percent of all the carpeting was rolled up to be reused the next year.