Taking a stand on sustainability at Airmic 2024

Taking action to create a sustainable future is central to Aviva - we’re working towards our ambition to be Net Zero across our operations and supply chain by 2030, along with our underwriting and investment activity by 2040.*  This commitment extends throughout our Global, Corporate and Specialty Lines business and how we look to support our clients and brokers.

We look to work with clients and brokers to understand their businesses and identify ways in which we can support their journey. From preventive solutions and climate resilience measures, to the development of sustainable partnerships, claims and underwriting strategies - we’re committed to adapting and evolving in line with the needs of our clients, our brokers and ultimately our planet.

It’s about making the right choices consistently, so our sustainability promises are also reflected in how we manage events - for this year’s AIRMIC event, we’ve taken sustainability a step further when it comes to our stand.

Lifecycle thinking supports our stand on sustainability

From flooring to furniture to graphic finishes, there’s a lot that goes into our stand at AIRMIC each year. Each component serves a different need and together these pieces come together to give our brokers and clients the best possible experience each year. Working together with our stand design and build partner, we want to make sure that we create our stand with common sense and a sustainable approach.

This is where life cycle thinking comes in. Put simply, it involves using the right materials to do the right job for the required duration, to create as minimal impact across the ‘lifecycle’ of that material as possible. We’ve zoomed in on some examples below, but this mindset is applied to our complete exhibition stand from design to build. For example, by using and reusing strong, durable materials like aluminium frameworks and hardwood floor structures, our stand has extended the life of materials that require higher energy to procure, manufacture and transport. With some being reused for decades, the lifecycle of these materials has been extended significantly, and better yet, less durable and less appropriate materials haven't been used time after time to reach the same result. That’s lifecycle thinking in action and it’s helping us take a real stand on sustainability.

Step 1: Flooring

Made from hard-wearing and fast-growing European plywood from responsibly managed sources, our flooring structures have been retained, repaired, and reused since the 1990s. Swaps from vinyl laminates to chipboard flooring and the likes of recyclable carpet options have been implemented to make sure that the flooring options on our stand give a true foundation of sustainability that makes sense in the temporary world of events, blending both reusability and recycling in tandem.

Step 2: Stand structure

Just like our flooring, our stand build team have retained a core inventory of stand structures since the 1990s. Building on the lifecycle thinking behind every project, these structures need to be strong, safe and sturdy, but remain largely unseen in their different creative uses. This means all these architectural components are maintained, reused, and repaired to extend their lifespan across multiple clients and events.

90-95% of the aluminium components, subject to wear and safe usage, have been retained since Aviva’s first purchase in 2013. By using materials like aluminium sensibly and creatively, we first make sure any usage can extend the higher energy required to initially produce aluminium. However, when these components do reach the end of their useful life, aluminium benefits from being fully recyclable and reformable in new components without any loss of quality. Better still, recycling aluminium extrusions typically requires far less energy than initial manufacture, making recycling these elements even more important for a sustainable stand today and tomorrow. 

Step 3: Floristry and planting

For AIRMIC, Image Display & Graphics supplied modest planting. All of the plants from 2023 were ‘rehomed’ amongst staff or associated persons to ensure no wastage of live plants, which still live on in offices and homes.

This year we’re planning to do the same with a selection of native plant species again selected for their resistance to stress, natural occurrence in the UK and ability to live on beyond the days of the conference whilst adding a little biophilia to our event. Many plants will even be familiar additions, cared for after BIBA 2024 and now returning to our stand at AIRMIC a few weeks later.

Step 4: Stand graphics and decor

Keeping our stand design distinctively ‘Aviva’ is a key part of our success at events like Airmic. We want clients to use our yellow brand assets as a beacon to visit us, but how do we customise our look without compromising on sustainability?

Once again, understanding lifecycles supports smarter applications of branding. Where a logo or brand asset is likely to be consistent, we can typically plan to reuse these decorative components.

Choosing the right materials for custom structures and shapes means that using them only once or twice is already balancing the lifecycle effectively. Fast-growing soft woods, recycled composite materials and boards help make custom features far less costly to the environment. Even using plastics in a few areas is the responsible thing to do, with these materials offering flexibility, durability and cleanliness that is hard to match, making sure that they're not treated disposably. In most cases, even these components are used numerous times, making their way to other Aviva events like the BIBA conference.  

Our stand graphics are all produced via UV printing. This means that there are no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and no need for heat plates or chemical processes. Instead, ink is cured instantly with UV light for a durable and vibrant finish, reducing the energy required to produce even the largest of graphics. The majority of our graphics are also made from a recycled polyester fabric which uses reclaimed plastic bottles to form a high-quality printable and further recyclable media.

Our stand build partners Image Experiential are also taking the stand build process a step further when it comes to sustainability. Committed to honestly acknowledging the green gap in events as they work to close it for good, they partner with Ecologi to fund a range of climate-positive programmes across the UK and the rest of the world. These projects extend to carbon capture, reduction and avoidance, as well as funding rewilding, community projects and education, accounting for all travel and installation impacts, as well as the remaining 5 to 10% of a project that can't yet be reused or recycled.

Getting closer to Net Zero by 2040

We look forward to discussing sustainable solutions with you further and hope that our clients, brokers, and others in the insurance industry join us in our approach - making small changes really can contribute to our net zero future.

*While we are working towards our sustainability ambitions, we acknowledge that we have relationships with businesses and existing assets that may be associated with significant emissions. More information can be found at https://www.aviva.com/sustainability/climate/.

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