Published on: 18 Jul 2023
By: Jane Turrell
Lucy Fraser from WRc’s Commercial Services interviews Dr Kathy Lewin, Director of Waste & Resources at WRc Group, to find out about her team’s upcoming participation at Resource and Waste Management (RWM) Expo 2023…and why they’re looking forward to it so much!
Next week, the WRc’s Waste & Resources (W&R) team, including our now renowned Waste Doctors (#wastedoctors), are off to the Resource and Waste Management (RWM) Expo 2023. This annual event attracts over 12,000 visitors to its five exhibition zones. It’s where industry experts mingle with retailers, manufacturers and other like-minded professionals to discuss and debate resource management, circular economy, and net-zero initiatives over two action-packed days.
LF: Kathy, I think you’ll agree there’s quite a buzz around the office about this year’s RWM expo! Why do you think that is?
KL: This year’s expo’s themes link to what the W&R team and Waste Doctors do every day, by helping clients to protect the environment, optimise resource usage, and transition to a low-carbon economy. So, we’re embracing them enthusiastically and are really excited about going to the show. It’s our big event of the year!
LF: Sustainability is key to WRc’s parent company’s (RSK) new 2030 Global Business Strategy and ‘becoming consciously sustainable’ is a key pillar for WRc. How does your area of WRc support the company’s sustainability goal, and, leading on from that, the expo’s circular economy theme?
KL: Waste & Resources offers routine and bespoke waste characterisation services and consultancy, which help our clients reduce costs and risks and achieve their sustainability goals; those being: less hazardous waste, less landfill, more resource recovery and supporting a circular economy, as well as meeting the all-important regulatory compliance. A great example of this is what we've been doing with UK industry trade bodies and the energy from waste operators over the last 10 to 20 years. Through our collaborative research 2.5 million tonnes of incinerator bottom ash per year continues to be used under roads and commercial buildings around the country instead of virgin aggregate. It truly is a fantastic case study within the circular economy!
What we’re known and trusted for is being experts in the really difficult stuff around chemicals in waste. That’s not just about being able to look into them - we've got a whole basket of specialist analytical laboratories here and in Europe to do that - but about being trusted by the regulator to do it properly. We don’t skimp in any way, and we’ve got the expertise to do it. That's why people come to us because they trust us to do a good, robust scientific job, which will ultimately get a tick from the regulator, save them money in the long run, and protect their reputation.
The other part of our business is the Waste Doctors’ specialised laboratory-based consultancy. This is an integral part of what we do. Our combined laboratory and consultancy services put us in a unique position between academia and routine laboratories. We are increasingly working on difficult national waste streams and with trade bodies and regulators in response to ever-changing regulations around chemicals and waste, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs), or ‘forever chemicals’, such as flame retardants used in everyday items, like computers and furniture. It’s the Waste Doctors who will ‘take the stage’ at our RWM stand (R-K325), which gives our clients the chance to meet the men and ladies in white.
LF: We mentioned earlier that being consciously sustainable is a key WRc pillar. Are you and your team able to take any steps towards being consciously sustainable at RWM?
KL: As well as the sustainability big picture, we’ve taken some small but nonetheless important, consciously sustainable decisions regarding the environmental impact of our presence at RWM. Firstly, we won’t be giving out any flyers or brochures, instead we’ll scan our visitors’ badges and send them the specific information they need via email. So, instead of people going away with carrier bags full of brochures, which they may or may not ever look at again, we’ll send them something they can review with a clear conscience in the days and months to come.
Secondly, we’re bringing back our hugely popular and successful WasteAid Pledge Book. Visitors to the stand simply sign the book and in return we will donate £1 to WasteAid for each signature instead of handing out plastic freebies. The more signatures the more we donate to support WasteAid’s work, which promotes and shares locally appropriate, evidence-based and inclusive waste management practices, supporting and empowering others to take positive action.
When you meet anyone of us on the stand, you’ll notice our innovative business cards, which are interactive and printed on bamboo instead of plastic – they’re eye-catching too and serve as a great talking point. And finally, as many of you reading this know, the Waste Doctors like to welcome everyone to our stand with some liquid refreshment! We’ll have water and fizz, but absolutely no single use plastic bottles will be permitted; the water is in recyclable cans and our fizz is served in flutes which have been reused at RWM and other events for several years!
LF: What’s the main goal for you and the Waste & Resources team in attending #RWM2023?
KL: Our participation at RWM serves several vital purposes. We look forward to meeting our customers face-to-face, fostering meaningful connections, and strengthening both WRc’s and the Waste Doctors’ presence in the sector. Customer service is really important to us right through to the lab. We've spent such a long time building up our customer base and we like to think we do our best to look after them, which includes sitting down with a glass of Prosecco (or a can of water!), having a bit of a laugh and enjoying that relationship. That’s a lovely thing to be able to do in today’s fast-paced work environment… We’ll be on Stand R-K325, looking forward to meeting clients old and new and receiving lots of WasteAid pledges!
Find out more about RWM 2023 and register your place here!