In mid-March 2020, Impact Environmental the organisers of the Waste 2020 Conference faced a challenge: embrace technology quickly and develop webinars over a 14 week period in place of the face-to-face event.
Impact Environmental managing director Greg Freeman told Inside Waste that he and the staff at Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association (WMRR), particularly Gayle Sloan and Justine Foster, managed to co-ordinate more than 40 presenters and had over 1200 participants over a 14 week period.
“For all of us, the year 2020 will go down as a challenge, but many in our industry have had to keep forging ahead as waste still needed to be collected and processed.
“Many of the big issues have not disappeared and importantly now we are having to rebuild our resource recovery capability within Australia. We need to look inward for opportunities but outward for our learning to support this rebuilding effort,” according to Freeman who added that many lessons have been learned by the challenges faced during 2020.
Goodwill and looking forward
Freeman said that there was an “enormous amount of goodwill to keep the show on the road and for that, we are very grateful. Sure, we all missed the face-to-face learning and networking, but we made the most of our situation and continued to learn and share knowledge. This is what strengthens our industry – pulling together in the face of adversity!”
He told Inside Waste that the industry is now looking forward to the Waste 2021 Conference, at Opal Cove Resort, Coffs Harbour, May 4-6, although delegate numbers are limited and social distancing precautions need to be followed.
“We will be running a hybrid event, where there will be face to face presentations and interaction with exhibitors, but we will also have an innovative livestream event that will be packaged up to be good value for money for those who cannot attend the conference. What we learned from our Waste 2020 webinar series is that there are a large number of people who are happy to attend online from their home or office, as long as we make the interaction between the presenters and participants a 2-way affair”.
“Many of our Sponsors and Exhibitors elected to roll over their financial commitment from Waste 2020 to Waste 2021, which we really appreciated. We aim to pay back this support by holding the best event possible. Hopefully if COVID restrictions can be eased a bit further we can fit some more people onsite”.
Freeman added that they are currently sifting through more than 150 submissions and expressions of interest for speaking at the Waste 2021 Conference.
“It will be tough this year as we will have to limit the onsite presentations but hopefully there will be some additional online opportunities so all the knowledge and innovative ideas over the last year can be shared.”
“The Waste 2021 Conference will play its role in bringing the industry players back together in person and online so we can continue to lead Australia in the resource recovery and industry development fields. There is so much goodwill and optimism in our waste industry that we need to harness and forge ahead for the development of Australian society more broadly”.