Igniting conversion conversations

Panel discussions at the 2016 Renewable Energy from Waste Conference, Nov. 14-16, in Long Beach, California, provide waste conversion insights.

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Communities and industries seeking solutions to their waste problems have several options to consider. Waste type, volume and budget all factor into the equation, and one solution does not fit all. Helping attendees understand the key factors at play in developing waste conversion technologies is the goal of the Renewable Energy from Waste (REW) Conference.

Now in its fourth year, the event has been designed to provide insight into the processes and implementation strategies that work in developing waste conversion processes, ranging from anaerobic digestion to gasification and refuse-derived fuel as well plastics to oil and mass burn.

As past attendee and speaker Mark Hammond, executive director of the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, Florida, said during the 2015 event, “We’ve found that especially for a community or county of our size, there’s no one silver bullet out there when it comes to solid waste management. Usually it is an integrated approach, and so we look at varying types of operations that are out there for handling our solid waste, whether it is conversion technologies like thermal conversion or composting or recycling, to see what is out there that might be able to enable us to enhance and improve what we provide for our customers.”

Detailed and varied

Developed by the Recycling Today Media Group, Valley View, Ohio, in collaboration with Fairfax, Virginia-based Gershman Brickner & Bratton (GBB) Inc., the 2016 REW Conference, Nov. 14-16, at the Westin in Long Beach, California, includes a mix of sessions designed to increase attendees’ knowledge of waste conversion technologies and existing projects. These well-developed sessions can help attendees determine what strategy and technology type is best for their particular waste situations.

“I think it is an important conference because it gives me an opportunity to chat with my peers in the industry. It gives me an opportunity to see what is new and innovative in the solid waste management industry and to learn what is happening.” – Mark Hammond, Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County

To Hammond, the opportunities at the REW Conference are two-fold. “Not only do I want to come here and learn something new and take it back to my community, but if in some small way I can give something to somebody else to help them improve their operations that they can take back and use, it is an important thing that I think we need to share in the solid waste community,” he said. “I think it is an important conference because it gives me an opportunity to chat with my peers in the industry. It gives me an opportunity to see what is new and innovative in the solid waste management industry and to learn what is happening.”

While other conferences are heavily focused on one technology or end product, the REW Conference covers a diverse mix of both with prominent speakers who have firsthand experience on the subjects. Sessions such as Advancing Gasification and Pyrolysis, Fuel Processing Innovations, Opportunities in Biogas and Fueling Fleets with Renewable Fuel give attendees a well-balanced understanding of different options available for their feedstocks and the fuels being produced.

Beyond the technology aspect of the waste conversion industry, sessions such as Waste Conversion Markets Update, The Role of WTE in The Circular Economy, Sharing the Risks and Rewards – The Public Private Partnership Model and California Case Study provide strategies for developers to be successful in implementing these technologies based on real-world models.

During the 2015 conference, Marco Castaldi, associate professor, Earth Engineering Center at City College of New York, said he appreciated the variety of different topics and technologies being covered. “There’s a variety of different technologies that are here,” he said. “It is not just one technology category; it is all of them because I think you need all of them to sort of address this issue of what to do with waste materials, not just municipal solid waste.”

Castaldi added, “People who want to learn about it need to see all the options that are available to sustainably manage waste solid materials.”

The event also features an exhibit hall where attendees can network and talk with exhibitors offering equipment and services to support waste conversion technologies during networking breaks, meals and receptions.

A ‘Great’ Gathering

In addition to the exhibit hall and two full days of sessions Nov. 15 and 16, a preconference workshop, From Concept to Reality – Waste Conversion Project Implementation, will give those in the public and private sectors a chance to interact with permitting, financing and consultants on a more personal level in advance of the regular conference.

Harvey Gershman, president and co-founder of GBB, will lead the preconference workshop and has put together a team of presenters who are experienced in each area being covered.

“This Renewable Energy from Waste Conference talks about all of the proven as well as evolving and emerging technologies that want to work on the two-thirds of the waste that currently goes to our landfills to get value out of it—to get energy, to get fuels and also more recyclables out of it,” Gershman says. “This is a great gathering.”

The author is an editor with the Recycling Today Media Group and can be reached at ksmith@gie.net.

August 2016
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