NATIONAL REPORT—There has been a lot of attention lately on green meetings—from green meeting standards to industry agreement on the measurement of the carbon footprint of a meeting. What has been little talked about is the role a simple meeting table can play in the greening of meetings over many years. Increasingly, suppliers are offering tables that are not only recyclable but that can also be used without linens. In the manufacturing of these tables vendors are also taking steps to be environmentally responsible—recycling scrap, recapturing and reusing paint, purchasing supplies locally, incorporating highly unique materials, and making quality tables that last, keeping them out of landfills.
One company whose presence in lodging is growing rapidly is Baltix Sustainable Furniture. Its Green Table collection incorporates various eco-friendly materials. One tabletop material option is nuxite. It is made from crushed walnut shells suspended in a resin binder. Walnut shells are a sustainable and renewable byproduct of annual walnut food crop harvests.
Another material growing in popularity, says Erik Knutson, the company’s co-owner, is BioSurf, an environmentally friendly alternative to formaldehyde-based high pressure laminates. BioSurf biolaminate is comprised of a 100 percent blend of soybean and corn biopolymer. BioSurf printed material uses digital technology to embed an image beneath a clear wear layer providing improved performance and high definition clarity.
Baltix’s Greenlites line of tables feature a strong yet lightweight honeycomb core made from recycled cardboard.
Knutson, whose company uses environmentally friendly glues and finishes, even offers a tabletop made using recycled U.S. currency. It is an option that is part of Baltix’s ShetkaStone line.
“We try to source things as locally as we can,” Knutson says. “We engineer durability. We want things to last a long time.”
Southern Aluminum’s Linenless Approach
In 2005, Southern Aluminum introduced its linenless tables to the hospitality market. Swirl Tables, hand-etched with randomly swirled patterns, eliminate the need to use tablecloths. Amanda Blanchard, marketing director for Southern Aluminum, says that by going linenless, one can save thousands of dollars on laundry-related expenses and benefit the environment as well. Less water, energy and detergent is used and less water enters the sewage system. The ROI calculator that Southern Aluminum offers to its customers shows exactly how much can be saved.
Southern Aluminum’s tables are recyclable. “We will take them back but you can take them to your local recycling facility,” Blanchard says. “Every table is made from aluminum.”
According to the Southern Aluminum website, aluminum is one of the most recycled materials on the planet. Seventy percent of all aluminum produced since the year 1886 is still in use today. Recycling aluminum saves 95 percent of the energy it would take to produce new metal from bauxite ore. Every ton of recycled aluminum saves four tons of the raw bauxite required to produce “new” aluminum.
Southern Aluminum’s T2 Table cuts down on the number of tables one has to purchase. It quickly converts from an 18" training table into a 30" banquet table, creating two tables in one. Fewer tables need to be inventoried. There are many laminate top options available.
Tables That are Almost 100 Percent Recyclable
Mity-Lite’s Al-13 Aluminum Tables are made entirely from aluminum (legs, support structure, folding mechanisms, and tabletop), are 20 percent lighter than conventional folding tables, strong enough to hold more than 3,000 pounds, and are nearly 100 percent recyclable.
Round Revolution tables made by PS Furniture include some recycled content and are designed to be used without linens. PS Furniture’s environmental policy spells out its commitment to conserve energy, procure materials from renewable resources, and manufacture products that can be recycled, reused or disposed of safely.
All SICO, Inc. tables are GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality certified. So too are tables available through Midwest Folding Products. The GREENGUARD certification means that a manufacturer produces non-toxic low-emitting products on a consistent basis.
To extend the life of wooden, rectangular banquet tables that have chipped corners, a Table Corner Saver can be installed on each corner. Larry Best, whose company sells these, says most small hotel operations still use wooden tables. “Every hotel has a dead table room,” Best says. The metal plate placed on each corner revives the tables. A portion of the proceeds from the purchase of Table Savers is donated to the Arbor Day Foundation.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.