Why are the Waste Doctors so excited about RWM?
By: Dr Kathy Lewin
The Resources and Waste Management (RWM) 2023 show, part of a larger expo focusing on waste, water, and energy, proved to be a fantastic event. From the eight hundred exhibitors and 18,000 visitors to the lively atmosphere, it was clear that it was a successful gathering for all things sustainability.
The show provided a platform for industry professionals to discuss critical topics, discover green technologies, address environmental challenges, connect with peers and celebrate award winners. In case you missed it, here’s our recap.
The RWM 2023 show featured over 20 inspiring keynote speakers, including Simon Mundy, Moral Money Editor at the Financial Times, and James Honeyborne, executive producer of Blue Planet II, who explored the expo's central themes around net zero, the circular economy and biodiversity.
WRc's Waste Doctors showcase displayed a variety of weird and wonderful waste samples and projects involving waste characterisation and classification, and their innovative WasteAid ‘pledge book’. Over in the flood hall, the Infrastructure team showcased in-house innovations, including the Sahara®, drones and pipe crawlers.
As the circular economy took centre stage at this year’s expo, it wasn’t surprising to find that it featured heavily throughout the two-day event. Many businesses and speakers focused on how they are part of it, including WRc’s ‘Waste Doctors’ who play a significant role by identifying what is in waste and which path to recovery it can take once classification and identification have occurred.
The circular economy and net zero theatre hosted several enlightening talks. Renaud de Viel Castel, COO for Rubicon, discussed using technology to enhance transparency in waste and recycling streams, including AI's role in detecting recycling and waste initiatives.
Ghinwa Chammas, Director of Group Sustainability at the British Standards Institute (BSI), emphasised embedding sustainability into business culture and processes. She stressed the importance of involving every team in sustainability efforts.
Waste classification, a topic close to the Waste Doctors ‘stethoscopes’ was featured in a sustainable waste recovery talk by John Pine, Director of Commercial Development at Juno LLC. He discussed minimising 'black bag' waste going to landfills and looking beyond the 'zero waste to landfill’ initiative.
Analysing difficult national waste streams is something the Waste Doctors are increasingly working on, as well as collaborating with trade bodies and regulators in response to ever-changing regulations around chemicals and waste, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs), forever chemicals, and avoiding waste misclassification.
The show offered a valuable opportunity to connect with peers, showcase our work, and highlight the Waste Doctors’ unique position between research and routine labs. An intriguing inquiry for them came from Millers Music Centre, who were concerned about the number of acoustic and electronic pianos going to landfills, and the wastage of potentially recyclable materials.
Did you know that acoustic pianos have lead weights and cast-iron frames? The Waste Doctors were able to direct him to the relevant trade bodies whom they regularly work with, such as the British Metals Recycling Association.
The final panel discussion was noteworthy because it marked biodiversity as a keynote topic for the first time at an RWM show. This underscores the importance of acting for a 'Nature Positive by 2030' global goal, aligned with the UN's Net Zero emissions target. Lesley Wilson of IEMA gave valuable suggestions for reading around the biodiversity topic, including IEMA’s ‘Biodiversity & Natural Capital Buzzword Guide.’
In line with our commitment to sustainability, we chose not to distribute plastic giveaways. Instead, we invited attendees to sign our charity pledge books. For each signature, we pledged £1, match funded by WRc to support WasteAid's efforts in promoting sustainable waste management practices and £1 to support the excellent work at the Mid Cheshire Hospital. In total, £1,379 was raised for the charities.
In summary, we gained some valuable experiences from our participation at RWM 2023. One of our standout moments was the on-stand Prosecco party, which allowed us to connect with clients and renew old relationships. We look forward to future opportunities to collaborate and make a positive impact on sustainability.
Specialist waste management and resource recovery
WRc's Waste Doctors deliver bespoke solutions for effective product and waste management, characterisation and classification. Utilising our specialist in-house laboratories, we highlight 'problem parameters' which may compromise zero waste to landfill and other resource recovery goals.
Published on: 27 Oct 2022
By: Dr Kathy Lewin
Director of Waste & Resources
Kathy has over 30 years’ technical consultancy experience specialising in waste characterisation to support resource recovery, waste classification and environmental risk assessment within the circular economy. She is a Chartered Scientist, Chartered Environmentalist, Chartered Resource and Waste Manager and a member if CIWM’s hazardous waste Special Interest Group.