An Interview with Stefan Rummel

Managing Director of Messe München GmbH

October 26, 2019

Stefan Rummel has long been an advocate for sustainability in the trade fair industry

IMAGE: Messe München GmbH

Messe München not only organizes the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management, but has also been involved in climate and environmental protection since the construction of the new trade fair centre. We caught up with Managing Director Stefan Rummel to talk about how the Munich trade fair company implements sustainability practices and what role IFAT technologies play in global climate protection.




Mr. Rummel, the exhibition centre in Munich is regarded as a ‘green’ pioneer in the trade fair industry. What sustainable practices are implemented there?


For us, entrepreneurial success and responsible action go hand in hand. When the new exhibition centre was constructed 20 years ago, we already had sustainability in mind. We installed one of the world's largest photovoltaic roof systems that helps us avoid emitting around 1,600 tons of carbon dioxide per year, which would otherwise be produced by generating electricity from fossil fuels. Our new halls C5 and C6, as well as the new Messe München Conference Center Nord, were all completed in 2018 and are exclusively heated by district heating from geothermal energy. And we have a sophisticated rainwater infiltration system that relieves the load on the sewer system in the event of rain. These are just a few technical examples. Yet we are still a long way from reaching our goal.


Apparently, your exhibition grounds are literally ‘green’ too?


That's true. 220.000 square metres, or 21 percent of our total area, are green areas, including roof greening. And last but not least, there are 2,500 trees that make our site even greener.



The Exhibition Ground boasts green roofs and over 1 MW of solar PV

IMAGE: Messe München GmbH

Your portfolio also includes IFAT, the leading trade fair for environmental technologies. What’s the target audience for IFAT?


IFAT is aimed at those who are looking for solutions for the sustainable management of raw materials and want to find out more about the possibilities of recycling. On the one hand, these are representatives of a wide variety of industrial sectors, such as the construction, chemical, pharmaceutical or plastics industries, but we also we address municipalities that must think of sustainable solutions for cities and villages. In short, IFAT shows how cities, municipalities and companies can drive forward their commitment to environmental and climate protection.


How many exhibitors do you expect in 2020?


We cannot give an exact number yet, but we expect around 3,300 exhibitors.


More than 900 cities in 18 countries have already declared a so-called climate emergency. Will this give a boost to the next IFAT?


Yes, I am convinced that it will, because leading international trade fairs such as IFAT always reflect political and economic developments. If a topic becomes more relevant, the trade fair will develop accordingly. For me, what counts is that the cities involved have recognized the urgency of climate change by declaring a climate emergency. This is the first, right step—and I say this primarily as a citizen. However, now is the time to walk the talk. And IFAT is certainly the right place to get in touch with everyone involved: technology and service providers, consultants, representatives of industries and other local municipalities.


What role can technologies play in climate protection?


I would say that environmental technology is the answer to the great challenges of our time. If we are to meet the massive challenges facing our planet without permanently slowing down economic development, one thing is absolutely essential: technology.


The technological innovations of our worldwide IFAT exhibitors are good examples of what technology can already do for climate protection today. Just think of the many possibilities for industrial exhaust gas cleaning and air pollution control. But, in terms of innovation, the potential of this industry is far from being exhausted. In the future, we will see even greater technological leaps here, which will not only contribute to progress in climate protection, but also to economic power and jobs.


So why aren’t environmental technologies being used more widely already?


This often fails because of clear specifications and the necessary investments. Especially in the beginning technologies are cost intensive. It is often forgotten, however, what a powerful effect they have and that they pay off in the long run.


Do you think the numerous Friday demonstrations we see in many countries could change that?


I believe that the global environmental and climate challenges such as marine plastic and CO2 pollution have never received so much attention from citizens and the media as they do today. The pressure on the parties, politicians and companies is increasing. Technologies are the key to solving these challenges. Our aim with the IFAT trade fairs worldwide is to use this attention and, more than ever, to show what environmental technology can already achieve today—and will achieve in the future.


How many IFAT fairs are there around the globe?


Eight. In addition to IFAT in Munich, there are three trade fairs in China, two in India, one in Turkey and one in South Africa.


When will the next edition of IFAT in Munich take place?


From May 4 to 8, 2020.


Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Rummel!



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