2023 Waste Expo Australia was the ultimate showcase of the waste and resource recovery sector, according to Samantha Martin, Exhibition Director.
Post-COVID-19, the industry is back stronger than ever – a trend reflected in visitor numbers that were more than 30 per cent higher than 2022.
“The waste management and resource recovery industry is on the precipice of significant change that will drive growth in the industry,” Samantha says.
“We love hearing from multiple exhibitors and speakers about the encouraging conversations they’ve had at Waste Expo Australia 2023, and the fantastic turnout points to the industry’s strong future.
“It’s exciting to see businesses take the opportunities presented to them at events like Waste Expo and really drive their own growth.”
Opening the expo, new Victorian Environment Minister Steve Dimopoulos said he was keen to progress the work of his predecessors, and those in attendance, to advance the industry towards sustainable recovery.
He described the launch of Victoria’s Container Deposit Scheme on 1 November, the rollout of a standardised four-stream household waste and recycling system and a kerbside collection service for food organics garden organics as transformative.
“Right now, as we seek to design waste out from the beginning, improve and increase recycling, and reduce the environmental impacts of production and consumption, the recycling and resource recovery sector are essential to achieving reform,” Dimopoulos said.
“There’s a lot of innovation, passion, and ingenuity in this space and to be able to share it at a forum like this is impactful and moves the needle forward.”
Themed Advancing Towards Sustainable Resource Recovery, the conference picked up on the industry’s most important topics: Local Government and Policy, Commercial Demolition and Commercial and Industrial (CD&CI), Circular Economy and Waste Innovation, and Waste to Energy/Energy from Waste.
Conference MC Sally Williams, also known as Sustainable Sally, chaired the local government stream and says the tone of the conference and enthusiasm of the attendees was outstanding.
“Waste Expo Australia is about collaboration, sharing information and learning from industry leaders,” Sally says.
“It’s the perfect environment to meet and talk with people who have tried and tested incredible innovations and to learn from their experiences. The increase in numbers this year says it all: it’s the perfect forum for the waste and resource recovery sector to showcase how it is working towards developing circular solutions for a better, more sustainable future.”
Sebastian Chapman, Executive Director CDS of Recycling Victoria, says the highlight of the conference was in seeing people think about product stewardship schemes and the growing awareness of the circular economy.
On the eve of the launch of Victoria’s Container Deposit Scheme, Sebastian spoke on a panel along with leaders from TOMRA Cleanaway, Return It, Visy and MRA Consulting.
“It’s always an exciting opportunity at Waste Expo Australia for people to come together – there’s lots of people doing amazing things across the whole of the circular economy and our waste and recycling systems,” Sebastian says.
“It provides those opportunities to network, connect and innovate, but also from the government point of view, it’s valuable because it allows us to speak with the sector, from academics to business, community groups and experts. It’s those connections that are so important if we’re going to be successful in building Victoria’s circular economy.”
The conference also tackled new and emerging issues in recycling and waste, including a panel on the hidden cost of battery disposal and a discussion on how to combat solar panel waste and recycling.
Samantha says it’s important for Waste Expo Australia to be reflective of industry changes and provide a platform for decision makers to come together and solve social issues.
“The waste management industry is on the cusp of a shift towards more sustainable, technology-driven, and circular approaches that will not only improve environmental outcomes but also present opportunities for economic growth and innovation within the sector,” Samantha says.
“Waste-to-energy is growing in popularity, the container deposit scheme is a topic of interest, but also when you look next door at All Energy Australia (the largest gathering of renewable energy professionals in Australia), and the number of solar panels that will have to be recycled. It’s topical.
“Waste Expo Australia will always enhance the content at the event by targeting new streams as well as the latest technology because I think that’s what’s really going to drive the growth in this sector.”
Waste Expo Australia 2024 will be held on October 23-24 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
For more information, visit: www.wasteexpoaustralia.com.au