A roundup of must-attend technology sessions taking place at WasteExpo, May 6-9, in Las Vegas.

Mallory Szczepanski, Vice President of Member Relations and Publications

March 20, 2019

12 Min Read
Expand Your Tech Knowledge at WasteExpo

Technology is entering the waste and recycling industry at a fast pace, making business operations smarter and more efficient. Over the years, technology has helped enhance fleets, collection services, equipment, safety, operations and more.

As we prepare for WasteExpo 2019, May 6-9, in Las Vegas, we have compiled a list of must-attend technology sessions, where you can learn about the latest technologies that are paving the way for the future of the waste and recycling industry.

Autonomous Vehicles: Are We Any Closer?

Monday, May 6 — 9 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Driverless vehicles continue to be a hot topic in the waste and recycling industrybut is the industry any closer to implementing this technology in day-to-day operations? Find out the status of driverless refuse truck implementation, the trucks’ potential contributions to the industry and the challenges that the industry continues to face. 

New DataWho Dis? What Data Collection Can Do for You

Monday, May 6 — 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

How can you plan where you want to go if you don’t know where you are? Data collection is crucial for establishing successful waste and recycling programs, especially in today’s volatile market. It’s necessary to measure and understand what and how much waste is being generated and discarded and why. On top of that, the variances in reporting makes comparisons and benchmarking difficult, with each program having its own system, definitions and reporting requirements. In this session, hear examples of how industry leaders are working toward reporting consistency to take on data measurement and how businesses can use data to identify and reduce their waste and costs to work toward closing the loop on zero waste.

Composting Infrastructure Development, Air Permitting Requirements, Technology Innovations, and Alternative Technologies

Monday, May 6 — 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

  • Survey of Air Permitting Requirements for Composting Facilities Across the U.S.

Composting facilities are becoming increasingly regulated across the country, particularly for air quality permitting requirements. It is important to know where these requirements stand in the various jurisdictions in the U.S., so facility developers can properly plan any new facilities or expansions. The presentation will include a survey of how compost facility air permitting is presently handled in each of the 50 states. The types of information to be covered include whether air permits are required and under what circumstances, how emissions are regulated and whether they are considered fugitive or not. Discussion also will include whether controls are required for operating equipment, what levels of control are necessary and if the agency has any specific rules for composting.

  • Upgrading ASP Aeration Systems to Manage High Solids Digestate.

Anaerobic digesters are becoming more popular as a technology for recycling organic waste and extracting energy in the process. Anaerobic digestion produces an organic byproduct that is unstable and requires aerobic composting to produce a salable product. Green Mountain Technologies has been working to upgrade an aging ASP system to handle digestate. Digestate has many properties that are significantly different than other feedstocks for composting. Digestate typically has higher odor levels, but the odors can be readily oxidized if sufficient air is delivered to the compost. Digestate also has higher levels of ammonia and is typically wetter than green waste or food waste. All these factors must be considered when designing a composting facility that will receive digestate.

  • Maryland Environmental ServicesThe Financial and Operational Benefits of Demonstration and Pilot-Scale Organics Recycling Projects.

This presentation explores the many benefits of demonstration and pilot-scale composting projects. Ahead of spending millions of dollars on organics recycling infrastructure, demonstration (or pilot) programs offer “proof of concept” and the opportunity to test specific composting systems; perfect a site-specific operational program including a training package; understand system functionality in relation to site-specific limitations; gauge incoming feedstock volume, quality and makeup at a manageable scale; understand seasonal capacity and feedstock fluctuations; budget creation based on evidentiary information; and the ability to leverage experience to gain funding.

  • From Dine to Swine: How Pigs are Used to Recycle Food Scraps from Las Vegas Strip Hotels, Casinos, and RestaurantsCollection & Processing, Legal & Environmental Issues.

Moving up the Environmental Protection Agency’s food recovery hierarchy, this presentation focuses on reusing food scraps to feed livestock. Collection, processing and feeding, as well as legal and environmental issues, are discussed.

Advances in Wasted Food Policy, Practices and Management: What Cities and States Can Do Differently When It Comes to Wasted Food

Monday, May 6 — 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Learn how organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the World Resources Institute and The Kroger Co. use data and measurement tools to quantify and improve food waste prevention, reduction and recovery.

Anaerobic Digestion and Pre-Treatment Technologies for Processing MSW and Source-Separated Organics, Producing Renewable Energy and High-Quality Compost; Safety Management at AD Facilities

Monday, May 6 — 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Presenters will discuss various pre-treatment technologies, anaerobic digestion processing technologies and/or post-processing technologies to deal with organic feedstocks that are contaminated (e.g., municipal solid waste, plastic and other impurities). Discussion also includes how to produce a clean compost meeting the stringent plastic and other impurities standards while enabling maximum diversion from the landfill at the same time.

Using Data and Technology to Drive Food Waste Reduction

Monday, May 6 — 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

A panel of experts, academics and entrepreneurs will discuss how data and technology is being used to develop viable market platforms to address surplus food collection inefficiencies and provide solutions to reduce food waste and ensure recovery of excess food and food scraps.

Robots and Recycling: A Dynamic Duo

Monday, May 6 — 1:45 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Over the past few years, robotics has found its place in the waste industry. Hear from experts and actual robotics users to find out how robots are addressing industry challenges such as safety, contamination, workforce shortage and more. Hear the benefits, challenges and expectations of using this technology to make recycling more effective and accessible.

Artificial Intelligence and The War on Contamination

Monday, May 6 — 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

As a result of China’s refusal to accept contaminated recyclables, North American haulers are battling higher prices, lower earnings and weighing the need for operational changes. This has forced haulers to question if they can continue to provide recycling services at a loss and if the only solution is passing cost to customers. This market disruption, however, provides the chance to reexamine and improve current disposal and collection habits with modern monitoring and reporting technology.

Join this panel as they examine modern technologies that are helping stop contamination at the sourceimproving hauler profitability and driving toward business and municipal zero waste goals. Hear real-world case studies that show how full-scale visibility across waste streams can reliably collect information needed to coach better household and business disposal habits, guide governmental regulations and modify operations to maintain clean streams from start to finish.

What’s New in Waste-to-Energy

Monday, May 6 — 3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Hear recent case studies on the latest waste conversion technologies that are eliminating waste disposal in landfills while generating new, viable resources and energy.

Anaerobic Digestion and Emerging Technologies for Processing Organic Waste and Producing Renewable Energy Products

Monday, May 6 — 4:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Presentations will focus on pre-processing equipment and technologies as well as anaerobic digestion and other processes for converting food waste and other organics into renewable energy.

Food Waste-to-Energy via Anaerobic Digestion and Other Technologies

Tuesday, May 7 — 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

While surplus food continues to be produced, as well as pre- and post-plate food scraps that cannot be used to feed hungry people or animals, diversion of these food residuals to other beneficial uses is an important step in the food waste hierarchy. Anaerobic digestion to produce renewable energy and compost/composting to create healthy soils to grow healthy crops are important processes to eliminate the diversion of food waste to landfills and incinerators. This session focuses on technologies to provide additional beneficial uses for food waste.

Data Analytics and Measuring Success: Do They Go Hand-in-Hand?

Tuesday, May 7 — 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

Over the past several years, the waste industry has evolved significantly. Traditional recycling facilities have been joined by composters, e-waste processers and anaerobic digesters, all of which have helped make it possible to extend the life of the objects we use every day. But as organizations reach for lofty sustainability goals, like zero waste, a new question emerges: how can you measure success? It should come as no surprise, then, that there are many opinions and conversations around the best way to measure success. Though there is no perfect solution to measuring success yet, it all comes to down to utilizing data and analytics. This session will share how the Department of Solid Waste Services of Anchorage, Alaska, has developed a performance dashboard that engages staff and the public to drive strategies, measure performance, set goals and automate the extraction of data. Also hear from Rubicon’s vice president of sustainability on which three data points should be used to measure success in the quest for zero waste.

RFID, PAYTAre These the Future of Waste?

Tuesday, May 7 — 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

We hear about pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) and the “Uber” model of waste collection more and more these days, but how do you set up a program that works for both you and the customer? What role does technology play in this system, and does it really work? This session will share case studies on PAYT trash removal programs and the technologies being utilized, what challenges are faced, what benefits exist and what the end results are.

Anaerobic Digestion and Composting: Technology Improvements and Optimizing System Design; Organics Collection Strategies and Costs

Tuesday, May 7 — 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Presenters will discuss the simultaneous use of anaerobic digestion and composting technologies to produce renewable energy and compost products to build healthy soils. They also will discuss methods of organics collection and technologies to optimize route performance and costs of collection.

Technology Innovations and Other Solutions to the Problem of Wasted Food

Tuesday, May 7 — 2:25 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

In this session, presenters will discuss how technology has advanced food waste prevention, reduction and recovery of surplus food. Examples of software platforms that are enabling businesses to measure and prevent excess food at the source will be presented. Discussion also will show how technology is playing an important role in facilitating food donation. Examples will be provided of how software platforms are connecting donating businesses with recipient organizations to connect and feed more hungry people.

SPOTLIGHT SESSION: Navigating Technology in Waste and Recycling

Tuesday, May 7 — 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

In today’s climate, agility is critical for companies to stay competitiveyou must be able to use technology to make real-time decisions and operate your business efficiently. Software, hardware, smart sensors, mobile deviceshow do you navigate the technology that is best for your operation? Join this session to learn the steps you can take to not only implement the right technology but also how to utilize it to make your operations more efficient.  

Innovative Waste Conversion Technologies for Processing Bio-Waste and Creating Renewable Fuels and Energy – Part 1

Wednesday, May 8 — 9 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Waste conversion technologies are increasingly used to produce renewable energy products (i.e., biofuels that have numerous beneficial uses including their role in organics diversion and greenhouse gas reduction). For example, compressed natural gas is a fuel that can be used in place of gasoline, diesel fuel and propane/LPG, and renewable natural gas is a biogas that has been upgraded to a quality where it becomes possible to distribute the gas to customers via the existing gas grid. Presenters will discuss technologies, processes, best management practices and the benefits of biofuels.

Data, Drones and Case Studies: The Latest Trends in Landfill Management

Wednesday, May 8 — 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

This session will address the latest tools and trends being used in landfill management and will focus on four different case studies.

Innovative Waste Conversion Technologies for Processing Bio-Waste and Creating Renewable Fuels and Energy – Part 2

Wednesday, May 8 — 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Waste conversion technologies are increasingly used to produce renewable energy products (i.e., biofuels that have numerous beneficial uses including their role in organics diversion and greenhouse gas reduction). For example, compressed natural gas is a fuel that can be used in place of gasoline, diesel fuel and propane/LPG, and renewable natural gas is a biogas that has been upgraded to a quality where it becomes possible to distribute the gas to customers via the existing gas grid. Presenters will discuss technologies, processes, best management practices and the benefits of biofuels.

Small Scale and Scalable Food Waste Recycling Technologies, Equipment for Food Waste Generators

Wednesday, May 8 — 4:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Speakers will discuss small-scale composting and processing systems designed for commercial establishments, institutions and residential processing of food waste. Selected systems are scalable to process residuals from multiple establishments.

Technologies and Equipment for Managing Odors at Organics Recovery Facilities; Pre-Treatment Equipment for AD

Wednesday, May 8 — 4:15 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Odor control is one of the most critical issues in the organics and waste industry in general. Presenters will discuss various strategies, technologies and equipment for odor control and how they are used to avoid and/or resolve issues at organics recovery facilities.

About the Author(s)

Mallory Szczepanski

Vice President of Member Relations and Publications, NWRA

Mallory Szczepanski was previously the editorial director for Waste360. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, where her research focused on magazine journalism. She also has previously worked for Contract magazine, Restaurant Business magazine, FoodService Director magazine and Concrete Construction magazine.

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