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The future is sustainable: Meta trend Sustainability booms at Ambiente

13 Apr 2023

The world's leading trade fair Ambiente was held at the Frankfurt exhibition centre from 3 to 7 February. The flourishing meta theme sustainability ran like a red thread through all the exhibition halls. Ambiente reflected the megatrend in all four life areas and presented innovative sustainability concepts and product worlds in special areas, expert lectures in the Academies and through the Special Interest "Ethical Style". It thus provided the international trading centre for sustainable consumer goods and commercial facilities, inspired a rethink and drove change in the industry.

Where do the products come from and what materials are they made of? Are they ecologically degradable and recyclable? What are the production conditions like? And do the companies fulfil social and ethical standards? More and more consumers are concerned with these questions. In society and in the consumer goods landscape is a shift in thinking towards a more sustainable lifestyle and a more conscious consumer behaviour. Sustainability has long been a decisive purchasing criterion and remains an important focus topic. As the world's leading consumer goods fair, Ambiente has been picking up on these developments and the vibrant meta theme for years: From production and point-of-sale to marketing, it provides exciting impulses, sustainable new products and alternative approaches to solutions. "Ambiente is the central marketplace for all those who are looking for consumer goods produced in an environmentally friendly way and for new, sustainably oriented business contacts. The Ambiente Trends and the projects of young designers such as Talents show that this is where the music of the future plays. More and more pioneering exhibitors are taking part in our 'Ethical Style by Ambiente' programme. And our Academies provide concrete best practices that are also available 24/7 after the fair via our complementary online platforms. We are already planning online events on the subject of sustainability during the year and have selected experts speak on new developments and market opportunities", said Julia Uherek, Vice President Consumer Goods Fairs.

Special Interest: Ethical Style by Ambiente

The "Ethical Style by Ambiente" programme focused on exhibitors with ecologically produced and socially responsible products. Companies could apply for the programme and were examined by an independent jury of international experts. A total of 253 Ambiente exhibitors received the "Ethical Style" label. The labelling at the stands and in the online profile of the exhibitor search highlighted sustainably produced products and environmentally friendly, ethically acting companies and made it easier for trade fair visitors to find exhibitors relevant to them and offered orientation in the growing range of products. Ambiente also presented two "Ethical Style Spots" on the grounds for the first time. The special presentations showed  a curated selection of products that combined design and sustainability.

Ethical Style Spot at Ambiente. Foto: Messe Frankfurt/Jean-Luc Valentin
Ethical Style Spot at Ambiente. Foto: Messe Frankfurt/Jean-Luc Valentin

Change of perspective: Sustainability between tradition and innovation

Sustainability has many facets, this shows the concept "Beyond Beautiful" of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). The curated showcase of handcrafted products from verified fair trade companies promotes global artisans and offers retailers and importers new sourcing opportunities. "Beyond Beautiful" creates a bridge from traditional crafts to creative innovations and tells the stories behind fair trade products: The woodwork, metalwork, ceramics, weaving, basketry and embroidery stand for tradition and craftsmanship, for collective community and for respect for natural resources. A change of perspective is also given by the brand "MADE51" from UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. The label specifically promotes creative creations by refugee artisans with the aim of integrating them into global value chains. Talented artisans from all over the world receive support from local social enterprises to develop the individual collections of design-oriented home items, fashion accessories and gifts. Each object reflects the skills and history of the refugee artisans. The collaborative model gives retailers, brands and designers the opportunity to support the marketing of these special one-of-a-kind items and thus take a step in the right direction.

The future of table culture is circular

Regenerative energies, emission-reducing technologies and an environmentally friendly use of resources – the special area "Circular Materials for Future Dining" focused on organic raw materials for a new material culture. The message: industrial societies must urgently rethink and manage the transfer to a circular economy. Pr. Dr. Sascha Peters, curator of the special presentation and managing director of the future institute HAUTE INNOVATION, recorded relevant material and technological developments and developed scenarios and product solutions for the markets of the future. In the context of the special area, he staged the material exhibition as an inspiration for future-oriented, far-reaching innovations especially for the dining area. Numerous companies already rely on circular materials: the German family-owned company Koziol, for example, showed how sustainable enjoyment can be. The new "Bio-Circular" product line of the sustainable brand was based on a new type of bio-circular and recyclable plastic generated in a special recycling process from disposed sunflower and rapeseed oils from industry and gastronomy. The added wood fibres from leftovers from forest maintenance and paper production came from European, FSC-certified cultivation. Another alternative was offered by the Dutch company Originalhome. The collection of handmade drinking glasses, carafes and vases was generated from upcycled wine bottles in Zanzibar. There, due to a lack of recycling systems, a lot of tourist waste ends up in the sea or on the rubbish. The international company of a group of independent professionals used their know-how consciously and returned waste to the cycle.

special presentation „Circular Materials for Future Dining“ at Ambiente
The special presentation "Circular Materials for Future Dining" focused on material development based on organic raw materials and set the tone for the future of tableware. Foto: Messe Frankfurt/Petra Wenzel.

The new work culture also ticks green

Where is the journey towards an environmentally friendly office going? To what extent is the New Work meta-trend and the shift in thinking towards work-life blending accelerating the implementation of sustainable aspects – in the home (office), in co-working spaces or hotels? Ambiente also offered suitable answers to these questions in the new Working section and brought together innovative suppliers such as the start-up Sustainable Manufacturing with its Recozy brand. This company focused on sustainable alternatives in interior design and relied on the principles of the circular economy. In its own factory in northern Germany, it manufactures lights, home accessories and furniture using the 3D printing process – conserving resources and almost CO2-neutral. Printing is only done to order, and over 90 percent of the supply chain is in Europe. All objects can be disassembled into their individual parts at the end of their life cycle and the components separated from each other. Another sustainable PBS product example was presented by the Greek brand Flexbook with its new notebook line Ecosmile. The "Crush" paper used comes from the Italian manufacturer Favini. The material is compostable, free of acid as well as industrial soot (carbon black) and saves twenty percent carbon dioxide compared to conventional production. In the Future of Work area, the focus was on conceptual solutions and sustainable approaches for the modern office and its equipment with presentations on the topics of office, collaboration and home office as well as smart furniture. Flexible working areas and intelligent technical equipment can save energy and costs. Across the board, the focus is on timeless design icons, thoughtful shaping, high-quality materials as well as innovative functionality and flexibility to offer a sustainable working atmosphere and improved quality of living.

Clear the stage for the meta theme of sustainability

They looked at the meta topic of sustainability holistically and from different angles: The Academies at Ambiente focused on different facets of the multi-layered meta topic and encouraged the exchange of knowledge. In the lecture areas, top speakers and experts from the respective sectors provided trade visitors with targeted answers to the latest developments from the market, sustainable impulses and concrete examples of best practice. Valuable know-how was offered, for example, by the Sustainable Office Day as part of the Future of Work Academy. The theme day on practical examples and solutions for the "green office" was organised by the German Working Group for Environmentally Conscious Management. Top topics were for example "The circular economy in the office", which Lothar Hartmann from memo AG illuminated, or the lecture "Sustainable procurement – renewable raw materials in purchasing" by Ute Papenfuß from the Agency for Renewable Resources. "Quo vadis Office? A compass for sustainable office design" was provided by Burkhard Remmers from Wilkhahn and Ralf Lokay from the printing company of the same name spoke on the topic of "Green Printing". In addition, the prize winners of the fifteenth "Office & Environment 2022" competition were honoured. The award ceremony was intended to draw attention to the possibilities of careful use of resources in everyday office life and to environmental aspects in the procurement of office supplies and the furnishing of office space.

Sustainable Office Day of the B.A.U.M. at Ambiente
The Sustainable Office Day of the B.A.U.M. was a strong and sustainable impulse generator within the Future of Work Academy. Foto: Messe Frankfurt/Jean-Luc Valentin.

At the Conzoom Solutions Academy, Jane Means presented "Cost-effective and sustainable ideas for retail gift wrapping services", while Dr. Dominik Patztek from WWF Germany pleaded "for a circular economy within planetary boundaries". Prof. Dr. Sascha Peters, Managing Director of the future institute HAUTE INNOVATION, spoke on the topic of "Consumption in cycles – sustainable materials for consumer goods of the future" and also gave groundbreaking food for thought on "circular materials for the future of table culture" as part of the HoReCa Academy. The HoReCa Academy also covered aspects such as the "Zero Waste Kitchen – The Key to More Appreciation" by speaker Sophia Hoffmann and the problem of greenwashing by David Tarsh from EEA, The Energy & Environment Alliance. And in the Remanexpo Academy, Elisabeth McKee addressed consumers in her speech "Sustainability in the Aftermarket".

Ambiente will continue to be held at the same time as Christmasworld and Creativeworld at the Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre:

  • Christmasworld/Ambiente: 26 to 30 January 2024
  • Creativeworld: 27 to 30 January 2024

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Leading international trade fair Ambiente
New perspectives open up undiscovered opportunities: As the leading international consumer goods trade fair, Ambiente maps the changes in the market with an eye to the future. For five days, it presents a unique mix of ideas and products - and is the platform for global trends. For Table, Kitchen and Housewares, the fair is the unrivalled No. 1 in the Dining segment. In Living, all styles and market segments can be experienced around the home, furnishing and decorating. Giving presents gifts and personal accessories in all facets and will in future offer high-quality stationery as well as articles relating to school supplies. The new Working section fleshes out the working worlds of tomorrow. With its future-oriented HoReCa and Contract Business segments, Ambiente also has a strong focus on the international contract business. The major themes of sustainability, new work, design, lifestyle, digital expansion of trade, and future retail accompany the event, as do a large number of industry events, young talent programs, trend presentations and awards ceremonies. Due to its unrivaled product range in terms of breadth and depth, it is unique worldwide and offers the best connections for making contacts and finding new business partners.

Home of Consumer Goods
Under the motto "Home of Consumer Goods", Ambiente, Christmasworld and Creativeworld will be held simultaneously for the first time at one of the world's most modern trade fair centers from February 3-4 to 7, 2023. The newly created combination of three successful leading trade fairs at one location at one time thus combines their strengths and thus offers an unprecedented, simultaneously available, future-oriented product range in quality and quantity. Global business with large volumes is intensified. Messe Frankfurt will continue to offer the largest platform for global sourcing outside China. Frankfurt is thus the center of the global order season, strengthening synergy effects and efficiency for all participants, and is thus the one, comprehensive inspiration, order and networking event for a globalized industry. This is where the newest trends are presented and the global metatrends are experienced and made visible.

nmedia.hub - The order and content platform for the home & living industry
The digital order and content management for brands and retailers in the consumer goods industry extends the trade fair and enables orders 24/7, 365 days a year. www.nmedia.solutions

Conzoom Solutions – the platform for retailers
Conzoom Solutions is a knowledge platform that offers the consumer goods industry a wide range of studies, trend presentations, workshops and guidelines for the point of sale. It provides a complete overview of Messe Frankfurt’s international portfolio in the consumer goods sector – bundling a wide range of information for retailers. www.conzoom.solutions

Background information: Sustainable Messe Frankfurt
The Messe Frankfurt Group is one of the world’s leading trade fair, congress and event organisers with their own exhibition grounds. With a workforce of some 2,200* people at its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main and in 28 subsidiaries, it organises events around the world. Group sales in financial year 2022 were around €450 million*. We serve our customers’ business interests efficiently within the framework of our Fairs & Events, Locations and Services business fields. One of Messe Frankfurt’s key strengths is its powerful and closely knit global sales network, which covers around 180 countries in all regions of the world. Our comprehensive range of services – both onsite and online – ensures that customers worldwide enjoy consistently high quality and flexibility when planning, organising and running their events. We are using our digital expertise to develop new business models. The wide range of services includes renting exhibition grounds, trade fair construction and marketing, personnel and food services.

Sustainability is a central pillar of our corporate strategy. Here, we strike a healthy balance between ecological and economic interests, social responsibility and diversity. For more information, please visit our website at: www.messefrankfurt.com/sustainability

With its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, the company is owned by the City of Frankfurt (60 percent) and the State of Hesse (40 percent).

For more information, please visit our website at: www.messefrankfurt.com

* Preliminary figures for 2022