Youth and innovation power Coffs Waste Management conference and trade exhibition 2022 – News Of The Area

Greg Freeman, Waste Conference Convenor (right) with Fong Tio of Hi Tech Rear Vision.

INNOVATION and young people will drive the future of waste management as seen at this week’s Coffs Harbor Waste Conference and Trade Exhibition 2022.

Themed ‘Sustainable Solutions for an Evolving Industry’, the event attracted its highest ever number of young delegates, with the conference covering forward-looking topics such as creating a circular economy and product stewardship, while the expo displayed state-of-the-art technologies and equipment.

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Held at Opal Cove Resort in Coffs Harbor from 3-5 May 2022, the leading conference for the waste management industry in Australia, running since 1996, attracted some 550 delegates who work in, or have an interest in, waste management issues, particularly local government.

Eighty delegates joined online.

Pre-conference, delegates could attend a behind-the-scenes tour of the local Return and Earn facility – Coffs Container Return Automated Depot – the bulk container return location operated by Sell and Parker.

Also pre-event was a forum on Food Organic and Garden Organics (FOGO) – that’s your fruit and veggie scraps, meal left-overs including fish and meat, tea bags and eggshells etc.

Attendees participated in an open and robust discussion with both legal and regulatory experts as well as up-and-running FOGO Councils, to share ideas on how to best approach the development of FOGO processing facilities in NSW and be better prepared to negotiate the myriad of decisions that need to be made along this positive journey.

The Equipment and Technology Expo provided delegates with accessibility to the latest equipment, see it in action and talk with the suppliers about the innovations in waste management,

At the welcome and official opening delegates were invited to watch a short film screening.

Called Regenerating Australia, it’s an inspiring, hypothetical news report from 2030 based on interviews with a diverse group of Australians who were asked about their hopes and dreams for the future.
View the trailer at

Greg Freeman, Managing Director, Impact Environmental Consulting, and the Conference Convenor, was in an upbeat mood at the exhibition witnessing how the industry has evolved.

“Today people don’t just ‘buy stuff’, they want to know how it will impact the environment which has driven great change in the industry,” Greg told News Of The Area.

Education, innovation and better technologies are changing the industry, which is seeing more young people working across waste management.

“It’s great to see so many more young people coming to the conference.

“Young people are absolutely inspired about what they can do, and they understand it having been brought up talking about the environment from a young age.

“That’s good news because young people will be the ones setting the policies for the future.”

Conference speakers and industry specialists attending focused their conversations and presentations on addressing the issues and providing solutions, talking about such challenges as consumption, disposal, preserving habitat, the backstory of plastics in our oceans and what we can do about it.

“We were hearing about moving beyond recycling and creating a circular economy; and about product stewardship which means dealing with the product’s disposal before it is made, “said Greg

“There was fresh content about the industry talking with manufacturers to take responsibility for their products’ after life before they make it, so its disposal doesn’t damage the environment.”

The next tier is creating energy from waste.

“Looking at our three-bin household system, our red bins have a lot of soft plastics in them.

“They are a problem.

“What to do with soft plastics – that’s where companies are coming up with new technologies in creating energy.

“While our industry is pushed by regulation and community pressure to improve the environment, it is pulled by economic opportunity, and as we have seen very recently, by natural disasters, putting disaster waste management on the agenda,” said Greg.


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