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The Renewable Energy from Waste Conference, Nov. 16-19, in Orlando, Florida, combines education, networking and tours to offer attendees the most value.

October 2, 2015
Kristin Smith

Now in its third year, the Renewable Energy from Waste (REW) Conference is far more than a conference to its repeat attendees. The conference, Nov. 16-19, 2015, at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida, combines thoughtful educational programming with networking opportunities and facility tours to deliver a robust event targeting the waste conversion industry.

Produced by the Recycling Today Media Group, Valley View, Ohio, publisher of Renewable Energy from Waste and Recycling Today magazines, in cooperation with Gershman, Brickner & Bratton (GBB), Fairfax, Virginia, the REW Conference is designed to broaden attendees’ understanding of waste conversion technologies and market trends critical to the development of new projects.

Anaerobic digestion, engineered fuel, mixed waste processing and biofuels production are just some of the technology areas to be addressed during the conference. Outlooks for specific areas of the waste conversion industry, including biogas and gasification, also are shared.

Mary Jo McGuire, a commissioner for Ramsey County, Minnesota, attended the 2014 conference, as did several of her colleagues from the county’s resource recovery board.

McGuire said at that time that the REW Conference provided relevant content as her region examines its solid waste issues. “It is a great opportunity for us to be here,” she said, adding that she appreciated the opportunity to look at different options for turning her county’s waste into energy. “I am learning a lot about what options we have, what other people are doing, what different cities have done. So, it is great to hear from people who are actually doing things that we are considering doing. I have found it very valuable to have people I can talk to about the options and what we might do.”

Zach Hanson, Ramsey County environmental health director, who spoke at the 2014 REW Conference in San Jose, California, said, “This conference gives us the opportunity not just to hear from great speakers about the wide variety of topics we are studying but [also] to talk to vendors and learn about specific technologies.”

Networking in an exhibit hall featuring nearly two dozen technology providers is an asset of the conference. Sarah Reeves, a lawyer with Stoel Rives LLP and a first-time attendee in 2014, said at that time, “It is nice there is an event that is focused on renewable energy from waste. Our firm does a lot of work in renewable energy broadly, and this seems quite unique, and [it] is nice to have something so focused on renewable energy from waste in particular. There is a lot of really good, practical, real-world experience being shared here.”

This year’s conference builds on the successful programming of previous years by providing more market-driven information, expanded tour capacity and a preconference workshop dedicated to public-sector planning for waste conversion projects.

The program

A special preconference workshop, “Planning for Success – Public Sector Planning and Implementation of Waste Conversion Projects,” Nov. 16 from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m., kicks off the conference’s programming. In this workshop, Harvey Gershman, president of GBB; Eric Sapir, a partner in Hawkins, Delafield & Wood LLP; and Mark Hammond, executive director of the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County (Florida) share their exclusive insights into the best approaches for getting a community waste conversion project accomplished. (This workshop is offered for an additional fee of $149.)

The main conference program is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 17, and Tuesday, Nov. 18. Over these two days, attendees hear from more than 30 experts, who share case studies and real-world experience in planning, financing and implementation.

In the conference’s opening session, “Progress Report – Waste Conversion,” industry representatives provide an update on waste conversion technologies being brought to commercial scale in North America. Moderated by Gershman, this session includes Norma McDonald, Organic Waste Systems; Allison Kerester, Gasification Technologies Council (GTC); and Ted Michaels, president of the Energy Recovery Council (ERC).

Michaels observes, “Local companies and governments that are engaged in traditional technologies are keeping their eyes on the horizon and trying to understand what technologies are about to become commercial and what technologies can work for their communities, and this is a great opportunity for those folks to come together and learn interesting things and really help shape the future of the industry.”

The next session, “Waste Not – Processing for Maximum Energy Recovery,” gets at the heart of the mixed waste processing discussion by addressing how these facilities are being developed to maximize the value of recovered recyclables and to produce high-calorie feedstock for waste-to-energy and fuel applications. GBB’s Bob Brickner; Jacobo Moreno, Valoriza Environmental Services; Craig Cookson, American Chemistry Council; and Steve Miller, Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) share their insights into this approach to waste management.

Additional sessions scheduled for Monday, Nov. 17, include “Why Waste to Energy Works in Florida,” where speakers discuss market conditions and the regulatory climate that make waste-to-energy projects work in the Sunshine State, and “Smart Business – A Look at Industrial Applications for RDF and Waste Conversion.” This session addresses the unique ways some of the top companies in the country are using waste conversion technologies to power their operations and to reduce their environmental footprints.

Programming Tuesday, Nov. 18, opens with a session titled “Financing in the Real World.” This panel shares real-life examples of financing waste conversion and waste-to-energy investments in North America.

Another session scheduled for Nov. 18 is “Gasification and Advanced Biofuels are the Future.” Transportation fuels and chemicals production are becoming more attractive options for waste conversion, but developing technologies and market factors play into their success. Speakers on this panel discusses how their business models are working in this industry.

The final session of the program looks at a successful project in the Orlando area that are using biosolids and food waste to power local tourist attractions. Speakers discuss the public-private partnership that led to the Harvest Power Central Florida Energy Garden.

Tour time

On Nov. 19, REW Conference attendees have an opportunity to tour the Harvest Power Energy Garden, which has been described as one of the most innovative anaerobic digestion projects of its kind in North America. The specially engineered facility is capable of codigesting biosolids with food scraps from local resorts, restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, sports arenas, golf courses and the food processing community. The capacity is 130,000 tons per year, with 5.4 megawatts of combined heat and power (CHP) output.

Tours of the facility are available on a first-come, first-served basis.



For more information on the 2015 Renewable Energy from Waste Conference and to register for the event visit www.REWConference.com.

Stay up to date: Stay up to date with the most current speaker roster, speaker bios and news about the Renewable Energy from Waste Conference at www.REWConference.com.

Videos available: Attendees share why the Renewable Energy from Waste Conference is valuable in a video preview available at www.RecyclingToday.com/rew-2015-preview-video/aspx. Watch a video tour of the Harvest Power Energy Garden in advance of the Renewable Energy from Waste Conference at www.RecyclingToday.com/harvest-power-florida-video.aspx.


The author is editor of Renewable Energy from Waste and can be reached via email at ksmith@gie.net.