The sun has set on another WASTECON, this year taking place at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. And as many of us east-coasters recover from the resultant jetlag from a week out west, there is time to reflect on this year’s event. While most attendees seemed pleased that the show had moved back to its more comfortable September timing from an August experiment last year, the left coast location did seem to take a toll on attendance. With a few exceptions, most educational sessions seemed to enjoy a healthy audience, including the ballroom-based “Mega Sessions,” reserved for keynotes and some of the hotter topics. The exhibition hall, meanwhile, was noticeably quiet, but this was at least conducive to longer, more relaxed conversations with exhibitors and others walking the floor.
I was also happy to see that WASTECON’s organizers had largely remedied the bizarre scheduling issues that had me so flummoxed last year and resulted in my having to miss large swaths of the educational content while being forced into an exhibit hall whose offerings I had exhausted. This year it was much easier to piece together a schedule that allowed me to see almost everything I wanted to see (though I did opt to hop between a few sessions in progress). The educational program was as strong as ever. Some exhibitors may have preferred the forced show floor attendance that seemed to be part of last year’s schedule strategy, but I think giving folks the option of where they spend their time is definitely the better way to go.
Finally, while in Long Beach I was honored and moved to attend the onsite memorial service for SCS Engineers co-founder Bob Stearns, who passed away on Aug. 1. I’d only met Stearns in person once or twice since I began covering this industry, and then only in passing, but I am implicitly aware of his contributions to the waste management profession and proud to work frequently with many of the talented individuals who now populate the firm he founded. Based on the heartfelt testimony of his family, friends, colleagues and protégés, it is clear that Bob Stearns lived a full and rewarding life, a life that touched and enriched many others. May he rest in peace.