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The 2014 Renewable Energy from Waste Conference dives into the opportunities and obstacles of waste conversion Nov. 17-20 in San Jose, California.

October 1, 2014

Renewable Energy from Waste (REW) magazine, a sister publication to Recycling Today, is a valuable tool for conversion technology developers and solid waste managers wanting to gain a deeper understanding of the waste conversion industry. In November, REW’s coverage of the industry goes even deeper with an event designed to take the understanding of the industry further than ever before.

With a technical workshop, a robust educational program and tours that connect material recovery with energy production, the second annual Renewable Energy from Waste Conference, Nov. 17-20, 2014, in San Jose, California, takes attendees to the next level.

Organizers the Recycling Today Media Group, publisher of REW; solid waste consulting firm Gershman Brickner and Bratton (GBB); and Smithers Apex have once again joined forces to produce the conference. The city of San Jose was chosen as the site of the event because of its position as a leader in solid waste management and energy recovery from waste.

“The city of San Jose’s Environmental Services Department is both honored and excited to serve as the host community for the conference,” says San Jose Environmental Services Deputy Director Jo Zientek, who oversaw the city’s overhaul of its commercial waste management system, leading to a tripling of its commercial recycling rate. “We can count on the REW Conference to facilitate the information exchange that helps those of us in the waste management community learn from each other and become more successful in our endeavors.”

Fueling progress

Following the success of the inaugural 2013 event, the REW Conference has firmly established itself as the premier event for the rapidly developing and dynamic waste conversion industry.

“It’s good to get the industry together and have conversations,” said Kevin Johnson of Stoel Rives LLP, Minneapolis, after attending last year’s conference. “Obviously some of these folks are competitors, but you can tell they are agreeing to collaborate to move the industry forward. Without having a conference like this, it really would inhibit progress.”

This year’s main conference program kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 18, with the session, “Overview of Waste Conversion Projects in North America,” presented by Harvey Gershman, president of GBB, Fairfax, Virginia. That session leads into a session about the host city’s success in making waste conversion part of its solid waste management strategy.

“A City with a Vision: How San Jose Made Waste to Energy a Reality” provides detailed information on how the city was able to develop the nation’s first large-scale system of its kind for waste-collection, processing and energy recovery.

Stephanie Molloy, the city of San Jose’s supervising environmental services specialist, Integrated Waste Management Enforcement and Regulations Group, is the main presenter during this session, explaining how the city worked with developers to implement a waste collection and processing system to maximize recovery of recyclables and energy. Carl Mennie, division manager, Republic Services – Newby Island Resource Recovery Park (NIRRP), the facility that processes San Jose’s waste, and Emily Hanson, Zero Waste Energy Development Co. (ZWEDC), the facility that converts San Jose’s organic waste into biogas, compost and fuel, join Molloy on the panel.

A question-and-answer period concludes the session, allowing attendees to further understand how the system was implemented.

“Making the Case for Conversion,” “Financing Fundamentals” and “Leading by Example in the Golden State,” round out Tuesday’s programming by breaking down the key elements that are required for project success, from public support to financial backing to legislative issues.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, the conference programming delves into more specific projects and companies that have incorporated waste conversion into their operations. “The Integrated Model” provides examples of integrated waste management projects in various stages of development. Bud Latta of the city of Edmonton discusses how that Canadian city incorporated waste to fuels into its model, while Kyle Mowitz shares the model Infinitus has developed in Montgomery, Alabama, to process mixed waste and use anaerobic digestion. A similar project being developed in Grove City, Ohio, is the focus of Team Gemini founding partner and President Doug Haughn’s presentation, and Todd Green of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based American Waste Control shares details on that company’s project to capture energy from a landfill it operates for its material recovery facility’s (MRF’s) residuals.

During the session, “Corporate Achievements in Waste Conversion,” attendees hear how waste-to-energy (WTE) is part of Detroit-based General Motor’s (GM’s) strategy to reduce waste and produce energy from renewable sources. Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy, and John Bradburn, GM manager of waste reduction efforts, provide an overview of the company’s accomplishments.

Also speaking as part of the panel is Mandi McKay, sustainability coordinator, Sierra Nevada, Chico, California. She will discuss how the craft brewery is offsetting its use of natural gas by producing energy from a waste byproduct of the brewing process. The system has been operating successfully for several years, producing heat for the brewing process.

Michael Van Brunt, director of sustainability for Morristown, New Jersey-based Covanta, and Christina Bosch Ladd, senior sustainability manager, Keurig Green Mountain, Waterbury, Vermont, speak about their companies’ partnership to compost and anaerobically digest coffee grounds from K-cups while using the K-cups as fuel in Covanta’s WTE plants.

Wednesday afternoon continues the project theme with a discussion on anaerobic digestion.

Finally, the day concludes with an overview of the latest research and developments in the waste conversion field from leading academic researchers representing universities throughout North America.

The full program, with speaker confirmations to date, can be found at www.REWConference.com/program.aspx.

Another layer

Adding a layer of coverage to this year’s conference is a workshop presented by renowned mechanical biological treatment (MBT) expert Dr. Matthias Kuehle-Weidemeier, CEO of the Germany-based waste treatment specialists Wasteconsult International.

MBT has successfully and tremendously reduced waste going to landfills in many European countries. MBT’s combination of mechanical and biological process steps are designed to treat individual waste components in a manner that is appropriate for their material properties, emission potential and economical value.

The workshop, “Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) as a Nonthermal Treatment Option for Mixed and Residual Waste,” focuses on MBT and automatic waste sorting technology as the bridge between the waste management, waste conversion and recycling industries.

For an additional fee, REW Conference attendees can participate in this half-day workshop Nov. 17 from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Individuals who are interested in learning more about the specifics taught in the workshop can read Kuehle-Weidemeier’s article, “A Solid Link,” which appeared in the July/August issue of REW magazine, available online at www.REWmag.com/rew0814-international-case-study.aspx.

Tourist attraction

The REW Conference understands the value of tying facility tours into its program.

As 2013 attendee Warren Shuros of Foth Infrastructure & Environment, West Allis, Wisconsin, put it, “That’s kind of the crowning jewel on top of the conference.”

A limited number of spaces is available for tours of NIRRP and ZWEDC Thursday, Nov. 20. Each of two tours includes stops at both facilities, allowing visitors to see how waste is processed at the NIRRP MRF and prepped for use as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion, compost or fuel product at ZWEDC.

Zientek says, “We look forward to working with the REW team on the conference and to showcasing world-class waste recovery facilities in San Jose.”

With the MBT workshop and facility tours being offered on top of an already robust conference program and exhibitor list, attendees have access to contacts, businesses strategies and technology about the waste conversion industry in one place.

Jim Keefe, publisher of the Recycling Today Media Group, Valley View, Ohio, says, “The forthcoming conference will equip organizations with the contacts, information and strategies that allow you to capitalize on this fast growing market.”


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

More information. To learn more about the conference, including how to register, visit www.REWConference.com.

Hear from attendees. Attendees share why the Renewable Energy from Waste Conference is valuable in a video preview available at www.REWmag.com/rew-2014-preview-video.aspx.