From networking events, to training, and educational tours, WASTECON® offered everything needed to succeed.

WASTECON® 2019: Pathway to Innovation showcased the first phase of the re-engineered WASTECON®. The event has been re-tooled into an executive leadership summit with its startups, business incubators, accelerators, entrepreneurs and universities to cultivate a circular economy and job creation, and Phoenix, AZ was the perfect setting for this new program. The newly curated platform created especially for solid waste directors and their senior leadership teams presented leadership and management concepts through the lens of municipal solid waste management.

wastecon2Powerful Keynote Presentations
SWANA continued its emphasis on recycling issues that the industry is currently facing though a number of powerful keynote presentations. These speakers shared ground-breaking ideas that are creating pathways to innovation.

Jon Vander Ark, President of Republic Services, Inc., kicked-off WASTECON® describing how his company is leading the way towards reimagining how the recycling industry can remain viable for future generations and showed what could be the solution to a broken business model.

EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery Deputy Director, Kathleen Salyer, shared the progress that has been made to construct the new framework for advancing recycling in the U.S. workgroup member. Forty-four organizations, including SWANA have signed the EPA’s American Recycles Pledge and have formed four workgroups to develop consistent messages for recycling issues; create a virtual clearinghouse of information that is publicly available; explore opportunities to spur regional and local market development activities; and compile existing information on metrics and measures for recycling.

wastecon3Intel’s Waste and Recycling Manager, Taimur Burki, talked with Michell Ogburn from Arizona Department of Environmental Quality about the importance of creating a culture of sustainability inside your organization. Burki summarized Intel’s minimal waste footprint: “In 2018, we sent just 4 percent of our hazardous waste to landfill—and since 2010, we’ve kept that number below 5 percent. But as the rate has fluctuated slightly from year to year, it’s a good reminder that it’s an ongoing journey.”

In collaboration with Arizona State University, WASTECON® delved into leadership topics such as mindfulness, storytelling and foresight. With Dr. Teri Pipe, Chief Well-Being Officer at the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience, Arizona State University, participants learned techniques to increase focus and attention to reduce the impact of distractions and interruptions. These are key to helping create a safer work environment. WASTECON® attendees had the opportunity to practice their new mindfulness skills in the mobile mindfulness studio that was located in the exhibit hall.

Solid waste leaders who attended WASTECON had a unique opportunity to hone their communication skills with a Dr. Travis May, Storytelling and Workforce Faculty at South Mountain Community College. Dr. May led a lively session aimed to help the solid waste industry engage its stakeholders as the first installment of the Storytelling Discovery Series. Participants had the chance to continue practicing their newly acquired skills in a deep dive session on mastering storytelling following the keynote address.

Futurist and economist, Rebecca Ryan of Next Generation Consulting, Inc., presented excerpts from her report, The Next Big Things: The Future of Local Government. The report, commissioned by the Alliance for Innovation, details four forces and more than 40 trends that local governments are predicted to face over the next 20 years. A small group of solid waste leaders met with Ryan to take a deeper dive into these trends and begin to identify those that would most directly affect municipal solid waste management. These leaders reported their findings and predictions to the entire WASTECON® audience in the closing keynote.

wastecon4Events Around WASTECON
SWANA’s 2019 Safety Summit also took place at WASTECON®. Safety sessions began with a keynote presentation by Zachary Barnett, Director, Phoenix Area Office OSHA, who discussed the new OSHA national alliance with SWANA and the National Waste and Recycling Association to protect the safety and health of workers in the solid waste industry.

The 2019 SWANA Safety Award winners were recognized for their achievements. The City of San Antonio, Solid Waste Management Department won Best Safety Innovation, Lakeshore Recycling Systems won the Biggest Safety Improvement, and the City of Casper Regional Landfill received Honorable Mention.

New to the trade show floor this year were Catalyst Sessions. These quick education experiences took place in exhibitor’s booths. Presentations and demonstrations were performed for small groups and gave attendees an opportunity to engage with the exhibitors and learn more about new technologies and products.

Networking Opportunities
One thing that did not change at WASTECON® this year was the abundant opportunities to network with solid waste professionals. Events such as the “Titans of the Industry” Golf Tournament, Breakfast Breakthrough sessions, and the Wednesday Night Networking Event at Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds were just a few of the networking highlights. Participants also had a chance to unwind at the Oasis Lounge and mingle at the Innovation Café to discuss poster presentations and projects.

Young professional participants, individuals in the solid waste industry 35 years or younger, had the chance to break away and meet peers at their Networking Event at Hard Rock Café. SWANA’s International Solid Waste Design Competition also took place, which gives student teams the opportunity to compete to solve “real work” problems faced by solid waste professionals.

All in One Place
WASTECON® 2019 gave attendees the opportunity to not only learn new information, but also experience it all in one place. From networking events, to training, and educational tours, WASTECON® offered everything needed to succeed. Want to experience it? Join SWANA at WASTECON 2020 at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas, TX, from December 7 – 10, 2020. | WA

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