Sustainability 101

Insights From The WasteExpo – How Waste Management Trends May Affect Your Planning and Operations

Great Forest attended the Waste Expo in New Orleans in May to discuss trends with industry experts and get a peek into new innovations in the field. The event drew over 12,000 participants and 620 exhibitors.

Here is our quick summary:

High Tech:

We saw lots of high tech trucks and equipment, such as self-cleaning toters and gadgets that allow businesses to better monitor and track their waste metrics. An example is Enevo’s wireless sensors, which Great Forest began using in a pilot more than two years ago. As an early adopter, Great Forest has managed to bring waste management “out of the stone age” for over 300 client sites, as reported in this case study Enevo brought to the event.

Food Waste:

Food waste was another big topic.  Everyone agreed that we have to deal with the big issue of organics, but how? There was much discussion about the constraints stemming from infrastructure problems (the lack of processing facilities, for example), but there were also peeks at potential solutions like a new digester we saw that can take meat, bones and shellfish. Improved digesters and other food processing technologies will be key in how businesses such as hotels, restaurants and food retail outlets deal with their food waste in the face of increasing regulations.

Zero Waste

The industry is also moving towards Zero Waste, and starting to see trash not as something you have to dispose of, but as something that has value.  This is something Great Forest has been saying for a while, and what we mean when we talk about “rethinking sustainability, transforming waste.”

We will continue to advise that businesses start setting Zero Waste as their target to drive program efficiencies. And also to conduct Zero Waste audits, where we identify and sort every single type of material in order to better devise plans that do not involve the landfill.

China’s National Sword

And finally, the other big news everyone has to keep an eye on is China’s continued crackdown on waste transported into the country. Some see “National Sword 2017,” which targets illegal smuggling of waste, as an extension of sorts of China’s earlier Green Fence, which stopped the flow of low quality recyclables at its border.  

Because China is the largest market for recyclables, these closer inspections of shipments of recyclables will continue to impact the recycling market here in the U.S. This may mean higher recycling costs.  As businesses also have to comply with increasing regulations regarding recycling, the solution may lay in adopting Zero Waste strategies to reduce what they use in the first place in order to reduce waste and recycling costs.

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