10 Takeaways from Day One at WasteExpo 2016

10 Takeaways from Day One at WasteExpo 2016

WasteExpo 2016 started off with a bang on Monday as attendees flocked to 25 different sessions and panels and the fourth annual Investor Summit. The education sessions covered big data, fleet management, food waste and organics, the risks of recycling markets, zero waste strategies and more. The first night of the conference concluded with a welcome reception at the Marquee Nightclub and Dayclub at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

Here are some key takeaways from the first day of WasteExpo:

1. Larry Daniel, the founder and CEO of Sextant LLC, and David Post, executive manager for Global Smarter Cities and enterprise Smarter Cities leader, kicked off the first session at WasteExpo. The duo tackled the topic of Big Data and its role in the waste and recycling industry.

2. In the Big Data session, Daniel spoke about the four Vs of Big Data: volume, velocity, variety and veracity. These Vs were articulated by industry analyst Doug Laney around the time that Big Data was conceived into the world. Here’s a quick breakdown of how those Vs are defined:

  • Volume: The data that companies collect from various sources. The more historical data that you collect, the more insight you can extract to make better business decisions.
  • Velocity: The speed that data streams in at. The faster the speed, the faster you can process information into your data and analytics platform to help you create timely and accurate reports.
  • Variety: The data demographics. The more varied customer data you have, the more you’ll learn about the customers and their needs.
  • Veracity: The dependability and the different levels of frequency in which data is collected. Data must be consolidated, clean, consistent and current in order to determine the right business decisions.

3. Post spoke about IBM’s Smarter Cities initiative and the Internet of Things. “IoT is a subset of Big Data,” David Post, executive manager for Global Smarter Cities and enterprise Smarter Cities leader. “Smarter Cities has been using this approach to improve in areas like water and transportation systems. The easy part is collecting the data, and the most difficult part is putting it together in a format that you can make sense of and figuring out how to align it effectively with your operational business practices to provide better outcomes.”

4. Post also pointed out the three main ways to integrate Big Data into waste management: manage, collaborate and optimize. “To optimize big data in waste management, look at inventory positioning, network analysis, profit and loss, sustainability, vehicle routing and customer clustering,” says Post.

5. Steve Latin-Kasper, market data & research director for the National Truck & Equipment Association, and Michael Timpane, project manager for RRS, spoke about managing the risk of recycling markets in their session. Latin-Kasper predicted that aluminum and steel prices are expected to start rising in the near future. Timpane explained that the single stream commodities are hovering near a 6-year low, and they have dropped from $125 to about $71. He also revealed that the number of single stream programs has tripled over the past 15 years.

“Commodity prices have been going down since the Civil War,” says Timpane. “This is happening because of improved means of exploration, improves means of production, substitution and no overreliance and the evolution of goods consumed.

6. In the Mid-Sized Haulers Panel, Best Way Disposal Government Affairs Manager Katie Raverty-Evans and Managing Partner of Premier Waste Services Michael O’Connor spoke about the current challenges that mid-sized haulers are faced with. From integrating technology to keeping up with consumer demand, the pressure is on for mid-sized haulers to step up and find solutions to the industry’s current challenges.

“We work for a trash company, but we don't have to look like that,” says Raverty-Evans. “We clean our trucks every week.”

“Automation is key,” says Raverty-Evans. “We have an aging workforce and automation can help keep our workers working.”

“A huge challenge is getting our drivers to understand the new on-board computer systems,” says Raverty-Evans.

“Hydration and heat will always be an issue, and we always tell workers to pull over and seek shade and water when needed,” says O’Connor.

“Most of our drivers have over 20 to 25 years of experience, and you have to get them to adjust to industry changes,” says O’Connor. “‘We have always done it this way’ is one of the scariest things to hear from employees.”

7. In the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) Panel, Michael Desso, director of safety, health & environment for Nestle USA; Brian Higgins, sustainability manager for the Innovation Center for U.S. DairyBank Equipment Finance; Meghan Stasz, senior director of sustainability for the Grocery Manufacturers Association; and Jason Wadsworth, sustainability manager for Wegmans Food Markets talked about how the industry is working to reduce and divert food waste across the supply chain.

Stasz spoke about how the lack of infrastructure is the number one barrier to reducing food waste and the three main goals of FWRA:

  1. Reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills.
  2. Increase food going to donation.
  3. Recycle unavoidable food waste.

Wadsworth talked about how Wegmans increased its composting efforts by about 50 percent last year and how 69 of its 89 stores are either composting, feeding animals or using anaerobic digestion.

Desso touched on how Nestle USA diverted 312, 342 tonnes of waste from landfills in 2015 and how packaging can be a big opportunity to extend the shelf life of food and to reduce food waste.

“If food loss or waste were a country, it would be the third largest in CO2 emissions,” says Dresso.

Lastly, Higgins spoke about the World Resources Institute’s brand new Food Loss & Waste Protocol­­­­—a multi-stakeholder effort to develop the global accounting and reporting standard for quantifying food and associated inedible parts removed from the food supply chain—and U.S. Dairy’s partnership with Kroger. Together they are:

  1. Evaluating different waste collection approaches.
  2. Looking at regional and geographically based economic models.
  3. Evaluating the potential for implementation of different onsite and offsite technology.
  4. Expanding their circle of outreach.
  5. Evaluating the potential of waste ingredients for new products.
  6. Working to develop an anaerobic digester opportunity map.

8. During the brand-new Food Recovery Forum, Andrew Shakman, CEO of LeanPath, Inc.; Hunt Briggs, project manager for Resource Recycling Systems; Karen Hanner, managing director of Manufacturing Product Sourcing for Feeding America; and Lorenzo Macaluso, CEO of RecyclingWorks/Center for EcoTechnology led a discussion on solutions for reducing food waste, increasing recovery and achieving zero waste. The session was moderated by David Orgel, executive director, content, for Supermarket News

“We’re primarily focused on making an impact on wasted food with our customers,” says Shakman. “We are also growing in a number of markets, and we are opening an office in Europe in the second quarter because we are already doing a lot of work over there. We have customers in 11 countries, and it was time for us to put our feet on the ground there in a more permanent way.”

“Our short-term and long-term goal is to leverage our scale and our programmatic strengths in the food recovery sector,” says Hanner. “We want to be a better partner in the food industry so that we can safely recover more wasted food.”

9. Recently, the House Agriculture Committee held the first-ever Congressional hearing focused on the problem of food waste in America. Representatives from national trade organizations and advocacy groups were among those who testified. The hearing followed closely on the heels of two newly introduced pieces of legislation: the Food Recovery Act and the Food Date Labeling Act.

10. Nick Lapis, legislative coordinator for Californians Against Waste, and Neil Edgar of Edgar & Associates led one of the closing sessions: Composting Policy & Legislation to Build Infrastructure & End Landfilling of Organics in California.

Lapis spoke about the four options companies have for managing food waste:

  1. Subscribe to a separate collection service.
  2. Self-haul to a recycler or recycle onsite.
  3. Have mixed-waste processing that targets organics.
  4. Sell or donate.

“AB 341 was passed in 2011 and sets a 75 percent recycling rate for California by 2020,” says Lapis. “And you cannot reach a 75 percent recycling rate without recycling organics.”

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