Technical Sessions, Training Courses The Basis for Great Networking
Why do we go to trade shows, conventions, conferences, expositions, symposia, or even more casual get-togethers relating to waste management or whatever?
While there are probably as many answers as there are attendees at these events, among them you will probably find such attractions as product and equipment displays, exposure to a broad array of ideas and practices, the opportunity to rub elbows with friends and associates or network with colleagues from afar, engage in a wide variety of social activities, and take advantage of a number of training and educational opportunities.
In most cases we settle for one or two or three of these features, but as previous attendees will tell you, WASTECON is special because, for professionals in the field, it meets all those criteria–and others no doubt I’ve failed to observe.
That said, I feel that the underlying reason so many people return again and again to WASTECON is the opportunity to turn the extensive array of professional training and education programs into a springboard for ad hoc but focused discussions on issues raised in the various presentations. While the sessions themselves might be filled with vital information presented in exciting–and even entertaining–ways, what I view as the most important aspect is the energy and quality of the many discussions that follow.
For one thing, you can be assured that the attendees of a particular session–let’s say Session 2 (Tuesday, October 29, 2002, 3:30 p.m.), "Communities Working Their Way Toward Zero Waste," that focuses on a community’s planning and operational issues rather than debating the issue of whether zero waste is possible–know that no matter what insight and wisdom emanates from the podium, much lively and absorbing debate is sure to take place in the hallways afterward.
For another, most presenters to whom I’ve listened and then soon after spoken with tell me they look forward to participating in these exit discussions, considering this to be a valuable and rewarding part of the presentation experience as well.
What’s on Tap at This Year’s WASTECON?
Tuesday, October 29, 3:30 p.m.—5:30 p.m.
Session 1: Landfill Gas: Markets, Permits & Tax Credits: An update on LFG-to-energy programs and activities, as well as factors affecting the future.
Session 2: Communities Working Their Way Toward Zero Waste: Panel discussion of plans being made and technologies being considered by those who are on the forefront of this issue.
Session 3: Board Members Session: An array of ideas and issues relating to MSW subjects of special interest to board members.
Session 4: Transfer Systems: Ideas and strategies for improving present operations and meeting new challenges.
Session 5: Special Waste — Electronics & CRTs: A panel discussion of emerging issues and answers in the management of these special wastes.
Session 6: Landfill Management: A collection of presentations on challenging landfill situations by a quartet of well-known landfill experts.
Session 7: Composting: A session developed by the US Composting Council to provide information to both new and experienced composters on a variety of political, environmental, and technical subjects.
Wednesday, October 30, 8:30 a.m.—12 noon
Session 8: Planning and Management: A selection of topics designed to raise your sights to long-term waste management issues.
Session 9: Communications, Education & Marketing (CEM): This panel discusses ways to increase the effectiveness of public outreach programs.
Session 10: Waste-to-Energy: This session features a selection of presentations on WTE topics culminating in a one-hour panel discussion on regulatory issues facing the industry.
Session 11: Special Waste Management: Presentations focusing attention on household hazardous waste, construction and demolition, disaster management, and special materials handling.
Session 12: Collection: No aspect of waste management is embarked on such rapid and radical change. This group of presenters leaps into the fray with both feet.
Session 13: Landfill Gas: Control & Utilization: Regulations, technology, and opportunity are issues familiar to all who work with landfill gas.
Session 14: Waste Reduction, Recycling and Composting: No subject in our industry is more open to debate than diversion. Here are a half-dozen presentations bound to illustrate the point.
Session 15: Landfill Management: Once upon a time landfill talks were boring. No more, as advances in design, technology, materials, regulations, and operations keep coming in a rush.
Thursday, October 31, 1:45 p.m.—3:45 p.m.
Session 16: Food Waste Diversion: This session is developed by the US Composting Council.
Session 17: Using Technology to Improve Solid Waste Systems: Electronic collection, storage, analysis, and transmission of data and information are here to stay.
Session 18: Rural Recycling: Special cases require special handling. Here’s a chance for you to compare your solutions with others.
The following four sessions are sponsored by the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB):
Session 19: California Futures: A review of California’s accomplishments with the AB 939 waste diversion mandate, as well as emerging issues addresses in CIWMB’s 2001 Strategic Plan.
Session 20: Conversion Technologies: A panel explores the role of "conversion" technologies in meeting organics recycling goals. (Following this session, attendees will be invited to a reception to meet conversion technology vendors and discuss these technologies in more detail.)
Session 21: Border Issues: A discussion of current efforts by the State of California and the City of San Diego to assist Mexican cities within the Border Region to establish state-of-the-art sanitary landfills.
Session 22: Landfill Management: A panel discussion highlighting recent developments in landfill management and environmental controls.
Making the Most of the Experience
The first step is to sign up for WASTECON 2002 (www.swana.org) and then get there, ready to take part in as many activities as your feet and schedule permit. While we all naturally gravitate toward friends and prior associates with whom we feel comfortable, you owe it to yourself and others to make a habit of speaking with strangers and including others in your own discussion groups. Finally, it is important to develop a personal commitment to these discussions. Share your thoughts and experiences with others and listen to what they have to say with the same concern and enthusiasm.
Author's Bio: John Trotti is the Group Editor for Forester Media.