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MIECF musings

Green expo in Macau bewilders
March 25, 2013

We were a proud Official Partner at the 6th annual Macau International Environmental Cooperation Forum (or 'MIECF', if you want less of a mouthful), held this past weekend at the Venetian. I hopped on a boat and headed over to check out all the eco-fuss :)
Having attended last year as well, I was pleased as soon as I arrived to see that at least the entrance display, last year made from plastic and lights, was made from plywood (possibly reclaimed?) and plants. Next, upon entering the exhibition area, I was served a complimentary egg tart on a biodegradable plastic plate and fork. Although I really could have just eaten it with my bare hands, if they're going to dole out flatware, at least they've thought about it and found a supplier that suits the theme. It was a decent first impression.
I spent a full afternoon here, and while I thought it was pretty cool, I personally would have loved to see more consumer-oriented, LOHAS-type stuff happening there - but clearly it's just not the arena for it; their website touts the event as "a high-powered platform to promote solutions for a low carbon future and sustainable city development."
There were definitely some intriguing innovations in the "green" sector on show. There were also some interesting, surreal moments that left me thinking we still have a ways to go. Such as the booth, pictured, that proudly displayed "100% Plastic" mock-wood alternatives for outdoor furniture (presumably as an environmentally friendly option to wood). Or the ratio of single-use plastic water bottles (lost count at ~60, not including the cases of unopened ones waiting for free distribution at the service area) to reusable water bottles (zero) that I saw being used by expo-goers and stallholders.
But cynicism is not my leaning, so while these observations left me bemused, I chose to focus on the stuff that inspired me. Like the super-cool lightweight foldable electric bicycle from New Zealand, that can be carried with one hand, unfolds to an unconventional but comfortable sitting design, and looks like SO much fun to ride, at up to 20kph! Or the  ecologically friendly, organism-based water cleaning and algae-reducing solution that replaces traditional chemical treatments and encourages fouled bodies of water to self-purify. If I got that right, it seems ingenious.
There were a lot of similarly innocuous looking concepts and inventions that had high potential, and I found myself stopping at many booths for a more in-depth explanation, partly because another issue I encountered was a heavy China-centric focus… meaning no English signage or literature at many booths. It's hard to get hyped about an exhibitor when you're not sure whether the 3D model in the booth is of a sludge treatment facility or a geothermal energy plant, or maybe a new type of car battery…! So hard to tell! I had to ask a lot of questions (in Chinese), and was still fairly befuddled in a lot of cases, due to the highly industry-specific applications of a lot of the products and services.
All in all, MIECF seems to be getting bigger each year and certainly did draw a big B-to-B crowd this past weekend. I look forward to seeing it continue to grow and, hopefully, also seeing its exhibitors and guests really internalize the idea of sustainability that it promotes (aka, no more big expensive 1-time-only booth builds and disposable bottle everywhere)! We'll get there. We have to.



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