It is just over 700 days since Madrid became the climate capital. The 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25, was held in Spain and presidents and activists such as Greta Thunberg paraded through the corridors of Ifema.
With 13 pavilions and nearly 200,000 square metres, Ifema covers the floors of its fairs with sustainable carpet.
"Since 2015, we have been using recyclable prototypes," says Jesús Navarro, Ifema's Director of Trade Fair Services. "We are working to ensure that it doesn't go to landfill and that this product has no end," he adds.
The carpet, which gives colour to Ifema's pavilions, is manufactured 1,500 kilometres from Madrid.
"Every year, more than 120 million square metres of event carpet is produced," says Beaulieu International Group, the manufacturer of the carpet that is laid at Ifema's exhibition centre in the capital.
An alliance that began with Motortec more than five years ago and was completed at the last COP25, covering all the exhibition halls. "In addition, we managed to close the circle, being recycled again in its entirety," says Navarro.
A round trip in which two new signatures come into play. "From waste to resource", says Jesús Cebrián, Product Innovation Manager at HMY Yudigar. The first step is taken west of Brussels (Belgium), specifically in the town of Kruisem.
In the European factory, Beaulieu designs and assembles the Madrid floor "which transmits 55% less CO2 emissions", explains Dominique Follet, spokesperson for Berry Ibérica. A sustainable, latex-free manufacture that "reduces energy use by 85% and water by 100%," he adds.
Until ten years ago, this would have been the end of the carpet's life. "We anticipated legislation and solved a problem for the fair, which saw that this product was ending up in the landfill," reveals Jorge Segura, Sales Director in the Environmental Services Area at Acteco. "It is true that Ifema was ahead of the game".
After being walked on by more than 30,000 visitors at COP25, the Belgian carpet began its second life almost 336 kilometres from Madrid, in Ibi (Alicante). There, Acteco collected the almost 100,000 square metres of carpet that were silent witnesses to the ins and outs of the 2019 Climate Change Conference.
"To achieve all this, the process of dismantling the fairs had to be modified," explains Segura. To prevent the carpeting from getting damaged or dirty, Acteco's workers pick up the entire floor before dismantling the trade fair stands to prevent dust and wood from soiling it. "We can't wash the carpet, otherwise it can't be recycled," adds the company spokesman.
But the Belgian carpet still has one more step to go before it returns to Ifema. "We receive the resource and materialise it in different products," says Jesús Cebrián, Product Innovation Manager at HMY Yudigar. "We have created an ecosystem with different actors that allows us to develop projects of this type".
This carpet arrives at their factories converted into small plastic particles ready to be transformed into furniture for trade fairs. "It can range from chairs to other accessories," says Cebrián. "We are even considering making the boothss themselves," he adds.
This closes the vital circle of Ifema's carpet, a sustainable journey that does not stop there, because "these new products could be recycled again", Jesús Cebrián concludes.