IFAT: A success story

The IFAT story is one of staggering success. It began in Munich in 1966 and now encompasses the entire world. Visitor numbers have increased from a starting figure of 10,200 to over 142,000 today. More than 3,300 exhibitors from across the globe cover the full range of professions in the water, sewage, waste and raw materials industry.

Today, IFAT in Munich is the world's leading innovation platform for environmental technologies that includes events in China, India, Turkey, and South Africa. In 2016, IFAT celebrated 50 years of success.

Milestones of a successful trade fair

What began in 1966 as the International Trade Fair for Sewage Technology is now a platform for innovation that promotes the sustainable use of resources. Essential and effective for exhibitors, spectacular and inspirational for visitors, and a valuable and responsible partner for the future.

1966: The beginnings of success

The first IFAT was held in Munich from September 5–9, 1966. Under the name International Trade Fair for Sewage Technology, IFAT began as a presentation platform for a special sector of the water industry. 147 exhibitors from nine different countries and regions and 10,200 visitors from 40 nations attended the event, which took place over an area of 18,000 square meters. Even back then, the trade fair was characterized by a high level of innovation and a notable international focus. The predecessor of what is now the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA)—the Waste Water Technical Association (ATV)—organized a trade congress for 1400 waste water professionals from 43 countries. They met at the “Third International Conference on Water Pollution Research.” This 1966 trade fair thus marked the beginning of IFAT's 50-year history.

1970: Responses to challenges in recycling

The growth of the consumer society led to an increase in waste volumes and with it new challenges for existing waste treatment systems and recycling processes for raw materials. IFAT expanded its range of services to include the field of waste management. Since then, waste engineering, waste disposal, and the recycling of secondary raw materials have been included on the program at the World's Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management.

1980: Sustainable street maintenance and winter road services for towns and municipalities

Clean and snow-free streets pose a considerable challenge for the infrastructure of towns and municipalities. How can streets be maintained in a way that ensures safety, reduces the impact on the environment, and is cost effective? Which services and technical solutions exist in the field of street cleaning and winter road services? In the 80s, IFAT decided to tackle these issues and presented innovative technologies for municipal use.

1990: A growing need for global water supply solutions

“Sustainable development” became the buzzword of the 90s, and water supply and water scarcity suddenly became pressing issues across the globe. There was an increasing call for a global solution and a responsible approach to water management. How can the water supply be organized in smart loops, and how can effective structures be created for the supply of this resource? IFAT devoted itself to this issue and launched an international political and economic platform to encourage discussion on sustainable water strategies and to develop possible solutions.

2000: New energy: thermal and biological waste utilization

New forms of energy generation added fresh appeal to the World's Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management. At the start of the new millennium, IFAT integrated thermal and biological waste utilization into its exhibition portfolio. Innovative solutions on how to yield energy from waste materials have since become an essential element of IFAT.

2010: Dynamic expansion of IFAT

IFAT underwent expansion.In 2010, IFAT integrated ENTSORGA from Cologne into the World's Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management. Incorporating ENTSORGA into the trade fair allowed the disposal and recycling of raw materials sphere to be further expanded. IFAT also upped its own work rate. The speed at which innovation was moving in the profession led to an increase in demand for a pioneering industry platform, so IFAT responded by shifting from a triennial to a biennial event. This move marked the beginning of its dynamic development.

Today: IFAT as a global platform for innovation

The level of international interest in IFAT is overwhelming. Evidence of the global importance of the water, sewage, waste and raw materials management trade fair can be seen in IFAT's exhibitor and visitor figures, with 3,305 exhibitors from 58 countries and regions and 142,472 visitors from 162 nations coming together over an exhibition space of 260,000 square meters. At Messe München's trade fair center, the halls are filled with innovations and solutions for the challenges of tomorrow. Over 50 years, IFAT has grown into an international platform for companies that offer solutions to help deliver a sustainable approach to resources involving intelligent cycles. Today, the international nature of IFAT generates interdisciplinary synergies for partnerships that aim to preserve and improve our quality of life and the state of the environment. In doing so, IFAT plays a crucial role in shaping the future of our planet. IFAT's mission to offer companies a profitable, international, and global network is also reflected in the continuous growth in the number of events taking place abroad, such as IE expo, IFAT India, IFAT Eurasia, and IFAT Africa.

Further information

Trade fair
Reasons to attend

Find out why IFAT can be worth a visit for you and your company. Read compelling reasons here.

Reasons to attend
Trade fair
IFAT key sectors

Discover the range of themes at the global IFAT innovation platform, covering water, waste water, waste, and resource management.

Key sectors
IFAT 2018 statistics: Exhibitors and visitors

Find the current IFAT participant numbers divided by country and sector, as well as comparisons with previous events. More information.

Participant profile