This makes Festo's booth arguably one of the most sustainable stands at HANNOVER MESSE. The secret lies in the MS1. This technical abbreviation stands for Messesystem 1 (Trade Fair System 1), a stand construction system developed by Festo itself and first used in 1999. "At its core, it's stainless steel rods and connectors that we use to build every Festo trade fair stand in Europe," explains Zitzmann. "Not only can we reuse this system for almost forever. At the same time, it's so light and compact that emissions during transport are extremely low."

Zitzmann's aspirations for a sustainable trade show concept don't stop at the basic framework, however. "We had 265 meters of graphic surfaces at this year's HANNOVER MESSE," reports Zitzmann. "By not using a plastic layer, the material is translucent, but in return it doesn't have to be separated again when it's returned, making it 95 percent recyclable."

Similar to the basic structure of the stand, the graphic surfaces but also the carpet tiles are used several times. Zitzmann: "50 percent of the graphic surfaces are also used for our other exhibition stands in Germany and Europe. Some of the carpet tiles have been in use for ten years." As we slowly begin to grasp the effort Festo puts into building trade show booths that are as sustainable as possible, Zitzmann goes one better. "In Hanover, we lay three kilometers of power and data cables, which we obtain preassembled in the required lengths from our trade fair warehouse and store again after the trade fair," says Zitzmann. Common practice for stands of this size is often that cables are supplied as endless meters of cables on cable drums and disposed of after the trade show.

When asked if Zitzmann has ever opted for the less sustainable option when faced with two options, he smiles: "Our caterer once suggested offering coffee in eco-cups. At Festo, however, it is tradition to serve coffee in Rosenthal china. Even though we may incur higher electricity and water costs when washing up, it's a nice tradition and a way of showing our appreciation for our employees and customers."