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Coffs Harbour Waste Conference

The Coffs Harbour Waste Conference is expanding its program to include a new Equipment and Technology Expo.

The waste management industry encourages innovation, says Waste 2022 conference convenor Greg Freeman.

For the past 26 years, Greg has had a front row seat as the conference has evolved with the industry from a focus on landfill and equipment to headline issues such as the circular economy and extended producer responsibility.

“The industry is headed further upstream,” he says. “It’s now more about the circular economy, waste avoidance, education and high-level processing. It’s not just basic recycling and disposal. There’s more technology involved. When you think about the industry now there’s a lot of resources towards trying to educate communities around Australia about ways to avoid waste and ways to purchase smarter. There are linkages between waste management and climate change. In years gone by that wasn’t there.

“There are so many moving parts now. The conference has shifted in the disciplines that attend and the content has exploded.”

This year the conference will expand to include an Equipment and Technology Expo with associated presentations, giving exhibitors an opportunity to have their equipment and machinery on display and present to a larger audience outlining the benefits to the waste industry. The Expo is supported by Destination New South Wales.

“In our industry, we have dedicated expos and then we have conferences,” Greg says. “We’re trying to provide more of a full-on customer service for people who are coming by having a conference and expo in the one spot at the one time. It’s a one-stop shop to suit everyone.

“The expo will provide an avenue for trades people to give presentations about the products and services that relate to them as well as a live demonstration. Companies are looking for avenues to market.”

Coffs Harbour Waste ConferenceWell regarded as a leading industry conference, the Coffs Harbour event is targeted at anyone who works, or has an interest, in waste management issues, particularly local government.

Delegates include state and local government managers, engineers, planners and educators; equipment and service providers; environmental, community and industry groups; and consultants. Leading waste management professionals will discuss the latest developments in the industry.

Greg says that over the years, keynote speakers have provided the industry with an opportunity to determine where Australia sits in relation to the rest of the world and what tolerance the population has in participating in waste avoidance.

“Over the years, Europe and the UK’s approach to waste management has been a lot more about community participation and co-operation. It has got some traction and support from audiences,” he says. “Waste-to-Energy and how it is used around the world and where we sit in relation to that is another one. What appetite do we have as a community for the technology and considering Waste-to-Energy as an alternative to landfilling. It’s interesting to see the philosophy.”

But Greg says while the conference looks at the “big picture” of waste management it is more focused on strategy and case studies than a scientific and academic pursuit.

“We want to try and open people’s minds but anchor the practice into the reality of what’s happening. Case studies, particularly for local government, really allow them to see what others are doing. We’ve always been big on supporting education on case studies and strategies.”

The 2022 three-day conference, from 3-5 May, will be a hybrid face-to-face event and online version with live broadcasts of all presentations. 

“With COVID-19 restrictions now easing, we are fortunate to be able to open the event back up without the capacity limitation we were forced with last year,” Greg says.

Last year’s hybrid event attracted more than 330 delegates from across the nation and organisers anticipate this year will exceed the 600 mark once again. 

Live broadcasts will also broaden the reach for those who can’t physically make it to Coffs Harbour, or find it more convenient to watch the presentations relevant to them from the comfort of their own home or office.

“The live broadcasts are a growth area,” Greg says. “Delegates are virtually part of the event as it happens. With software today, people can still participate in Q&A sessions. In a country like Australia, an online version can appeal to small councils and companies who face obstacles of distance but still want to be involved.”

Waste 2022 would like to thank major sponsors NSW Environment Protection Authority, Cardia Bioplastics and Visy Recycling.

The conference will be held at Opal Cove Resort, Coffs Harbour from 3-5 May. 

For more information and registration details, visit: www.coffswasteconference.com.au 

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