It is always at this time of year when I’m most impressed by the waste and recycling industry. Each May, with the sights and sounds of WasteExpo still fresh in our minds, we begin assembling the Waste Age 100 in earnest. Both events are opportunities to renew my curiosity about the service our industry performs and to reaffirm my commitment to covering it as effectively as I can.
This year’s WasteExpo was no exception. As crowds of waste professionals thronged the Las Vegas Convention Center last month, one got the sense that the industry was finding its legs again after years of economic uncertainty. The exhibit hall was packed with vendors eager to demonstrate their wares and attendees looking for the next big thing to help them revolutionize their business. Several of the educational sessions I attended were standing-room only.
But what I found most encouraging were the impassioned debates, which seemed to be inescapable. From session rooms to the hallways to cocktail parties, the lively discourse was constant: Is the industry’s focus on landfill-gas-to-energy an affront to composting? Is flow control really dead? Are municipal waste departments incapable of achieving the same safety improvements made by the private sector? Are some waste firms guilty of greenwashing? Will waste conversion technology ever pan out?
Regardless of the topic, the fervent dissection of these and many other issues, both formally and informally, was the foremost indicator to me that our industry is alive and well. You can get a few glimpses of the WasteExpo that was by checking out our photo galleries from the show.
I also encourage you to check out our 19th annual edition of the Waste Age 100, beginning on pg. 30. While the print version of the list is largely identical in format to years past, we updated our data collection survey this year in order to bring you a more robust online version of the listing than ever before, along with a more valuable premium version, which will be available soon at www.waste360.com/waste-age-100.
Finally, this year’s WasteExpo was also notable as Bruce Parker’s last as president and CEO of the Environmental Industry Associations. In July we will be featuring a special tribute to Parker, who served with the EIA for 30 years and led it since 1996. If you would like to pass along your well wishes or anecdotes, we will certainly consider them for publication. As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.