In the zone at AWRE 2023
An expanded program at the 2023 Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo will give industry a platform to address current challenges.
Australia has regressed in its bid to reduce total waste generated by every person by 10 per cent by 2030, according to the 2022 National Waste Report released in December.
The report stated that Australians generated almost three per cent more waste compared to 2018-19, while the country’s recycling rate remained stagnant at 60 per cent.
Sofie Teh, Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo (AWRE) Event Manager, says it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of what action is needed and how it’s implemented. She says an expanded program at the 2023 AWRE, taking place at the ICC in Sydney from 26-27 July, will deep dive into some of the issues affecting the sector.
“Waste and resource recovery is a nationwide issue. While each community has its own challenges, reaching national waste targets is a goal for everyone,” Sofie says.
“We need to be recognising what the industry needs, whether that’s more government involvement or industry support.
“We want to make sure we’re allowing a platform for that conversation to take place.”
Sofie says there was a level of uncertainty before AWRE 2022, the first fast-to-face expo since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the level of attendance, feedback and excitement was powerful.
“There was an element of community,” she says. “Everyone wants a sustainable resource recovery system. They want Australia to be on the same page, so there is this feeling of sharing and collaborating and wanting to work together.
“I’m really excited this year to continue that and help it grow.”
The exhibition floor at this year’s two-day expo will include some old favourites and new inclusions.
The Innovation Zone, launched in 2022 to give waste and recycling businesses the chance to pitch their products or services to an audience, was well received and will expand in 2023. As will the AORA (Australian Organics Recycling Association) Organics Zone.
“There’s a big focus on food waste in the national waste targets and we really want to make sure that has a presence and we support that sector,” Sofie says.
The 2023 program will include the launch of the Recycled Zone, to showcase businesses in the industry that provide products made from recycled materials or recycling solutions.
“There’s so much talk about what the process is in terms of recovery of materials, but it’s important to highlight what happens to those materials,” Sofie says. “The audience is keen to see the end result. What are the products that come out of this and how can we use it day-to-day in our roads or communities?
“We want to make sure we’re giving that platform to companies because there is so much happening out there.
“Some of these products that are made from recycled products will eventually transition to a closed loop. We need to keep talking about and normalising these solutions because it will be important in the waste and resource recovery space.”
The inaugural Resource Recovery Summit in 2022 provided high-level collaboration between industry, government and waste generators; and timely discussions on the latest challenges, developments, strategies and policies facing Australasia’s waste and recycling industry.
In 2023 the summit will be expanded to a full day in response to audience demand.
“There were a lot of audience questions directed at the speakers last year,” Sofie says. “It shows the industry is so engaged, there’s a lot of action but also inaction. The industry needs some support.
“We need these forums to raise issues. What are the roadblocks? What needs to happen to progress? We want to allow for a full day for these discussions to take place.
“Part of reason we extended it is because there are so many different sectors within the industry having the same issues and challenges. Being able to voice opinions and network with others is very important. We want to create that space where there’s high level involvement which we hope to see action from.”
The expo’s seminar series will continue with two theatres on the exhibition floor. The theatres will host topical sessions around what’s happening in packaging, organics, compost, and industrial and commercial recycling.
Curated by a range of expo partners including AORA and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), the sessions will focus on understanding current issues and solutions in the industry.
It was a full house for all sessions in 2022 and Sofie is expecting similar interest this year.
“People in the industry are really inquisitive and keen to find solutions – those sessions are a good starting point for them,” she says.
Doing their part
One area of focus for AWRE 2022 was a reduction of the waste generated by the exhibition itself. AWRE brought back its “Strive for Five” campaign – which set a target of just five per cent of the event’s waste sent to landfill.
AWRE provided contactless water refill stations around the exhibition floor, which supplied 282 litres of water during the two days – the equivalent of 470 600-millilitre plastic bottles.
Exhibitors were encouraged to only provide collateral that was reusable, and to avoid single-use items. Dedicated solutions were provided for each of the different waste streams, and even name badges were collected for reuse or recycling at the conclusion of the show.
“Minimal waste is a top priority for us,” Sofie says. “It’s an important part of our vision for this event and important that we’re living that.
“Sometimes it’s just about reminding the audience to bring in a water bottle to use at a refill station or to bring a reusable coffee cup for the day. It’s getting people used to doing those little behavioural things.
“I’m keen to see what other solutions we can implement this year.”
Sofie says she’s excited for the expo to return and continue to inform the industry.
Bookings are still available for stands on the exhibition floor and Recycled Zone. Contact the team to find out more.
Article written by Waste Management Review.