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Southampton International Boat Show organisers ensure positive environmental actions with its 2021 Sustainable Exhibiting Guide and Exhibitor Sustainability Award

Published on: 07 June 2021

Southampton Boat Show cyclists

To mark World Oceans Day 2021, British Marine has launched its 2021 Sustainable Exhibiting Guide as part of its five-year charter and pledge to support long term sustainability. With one of its main aims to reduce the environmental impact of its flagship event, the Southampton International Boat Show, the guide sets out clear actions that both the organisers and exhibitors will do to minimise the impact of the show on the environment.

World Oceans Day is the ideal time to introduce our Sustainable Exhibiting Guide and serves as a great reminder that the sea and waterways are key to our industry. This is our third year of positive action, and if all the exhibitors make just one small change, together we’ll make one big difference,” says Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine and Southampton International Boat Show

Taking place from 10-19 September, Southampton International Boat Show sees hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of visitors attending the event. The footprint of the show covers over 65,000sqm with moorings for over 350 boats, making it Europe’s largest temporary marina.

British Marine’s 2021 Sustainable Exhibiting Guide encourages companies to sign up to a sustainability pledge committing to a number of mandatory and voluntary actions designed to minimise their impact before, during and after the show. This includes no single use plastic water bottles on stands, outlets, or hosted events; for exhibitors to nominate a sustainability champion on the stand to oversee waste management and recycling at the show; to offer only sustainable and recyclable promotional goodies; and to only use compostable, recyclable or reusable cups, plates and cutlery.

The mandatory requirements for 2021 are in addition to actions implemented in 2019, which has already seen the ban of all plastic straws, reduced use of single use plastic for all show-related preparation and operations, encouraging the use of e-ticket, and only using recycled paper if print materials are required. We’re proud that during the 2019 show over 7.5 tons of waste was diverted from landfill by exhibitor actions,” says Lesley.

The Sustainable Exhibiting Guide has been produced by British Marine (BM) and is supported by The Green Blue, a joint initiative between BM and the RYA. The Green Blue has a stand at the show and provides advice and support to both the marine trade and watersports customers, and highlights sustainable and environmentally-friendly products and services through its Green Blue Business Directory.

British Marine and The Green Blue also helps raise environmental awareness with boat manufacturers as well as boat owners. “This dual approach is key for sustainable products which can be fitted as standard when boats are first built, or retrofitted onto existing craft,” says James Scott-Anderson who heads up BM’s Environment and Health and Safety department. Environmental protection products available at the show include Halyard’s Wave filters which prevent oil or other pollutants being inadvertently pumped overboard, and Micfil Ultra Fine filters, which ensure cleaner fuel and oil, reducing emissions, contamination and wear and tear.

British Marine is delighted with the support that the five-year charter and Sustainable Exhibiting Guide is receiving from exhibitors. Graham Allen, CEO of Henri-Lloyd says: “We are genuinely excited about the momentum that is taking place around sustainability and how it is being driven by companies and individuals rather than a grudging reaction to legislation. As a company we are striving every day to find better ways of reducing our footprint across all of our products and manufacturing, acknowledging that this is never ending pursuit to minimise our impact. At the show, we’ll be encouraging people to repair their kit before buying new and also to make positive choices when they buy their clothing.

Enabling positive choices through a clearly defined strategy is key to our success,” says James Scott-Anderson of British Marine. Therefore, British Marine has focused on eight distinct areas for change at the show, categorised into Plastics; Paper; Catering; Waste and Recycling; Our Home; Travel; Access and Education; and Awareness.

By clearly defining categories, we can help everyone attending or visiting the show to be aware of small or large changes that can be made by the organisers, the exhibitors and the visitors. This includes, for example, having plenty of water refill points throughout the show, avoiding the need for any single use water bottles; as well as ensuring there are sustainable travel options,” says James. 

For exhibitors that go the extra mile, there is also the opportunity to enter the Southampton International Boat Show’s Exhibitor Sustainability Award, which will be presented by The Green Blue’s ambassador Mike Golding on Press Day (10 September). Entries need to be received by British Marine before 10 August highlighting the sustainability actions being taken by them both at the show and within the organisation.


Previous joint winners of the inaugural Exhibitor Environmental Awards in 2019 were RS Sailing and Spirit Yachts.


The 2021 Sustainable Exhibiting Guide can be downloaded here.