2022 - The year of networking during a pandemic? ……
Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year, 4 weeks in mind you, and I hope it will be a good one for you all both professionally, commercially and personally.
I am hoping that with COVID restrictions starting to lift we can get back to some form of business as usual, with more face-to-face meetings (where appropriate) and sector gatherings to debate the key issues and see the new sites and technologies up close and personal – there are limitations to on-line working, even though I have been a huge advocate for all things webinar and e-mentoring etc.
I have spent time on a number of our sites in recent weeks, showcasing the best of what our sector can deliver on reuse, repair, recycling and heat and energy provision with MPs and other key stakeholders. So I am hoping I will get he chance to see many of you in the coming weeks and months ‘in the flesh’ again.
A big year for policy……
The year has already kicked off with several DEFRA and BEIS consultations on a range of issues including CCUS, Single Use Plastics and Digital Waste Tracking, all of which will impact those of us working in energy from waste and resource recovery. We are also expecting the big policy updates from DEFRA on consistent collections, EPR and DRS in the next month or 2, and there will be plenty of questions being asked and comments flying from practitioners and operators alike about incentives, barriers and the practicalities of transitioning etc. I’m also in the middle of reviewing consultations about waste carriers licensing and the new Office for Environmental Protection’s priorities and enforcement regime, and expecting to be taking a deeper dive into the impacts of the Plastic Tax which goes live in April 2022.
If that wasn’t enough, there are any number of think tanks, working groups, industry associations and organisations planning on bringing their own insights to the table covering a diversity of hot topics.
From resource scarcity and metrics to drive reduced consumption through to defining sustainable consumers, and delivering EPR for mattresses and batteries, to how to maximise the social value of our investments and operations. It really is going to be a busy 12 months, so hold on tight!
As such we really do need to get back on the ‘conference circuit’ and start having briefings, roundtables, panel debates and all those quality side-conversations that happen whilst in the queue for coffee or lunch etc. And that’s why I am so excited that the conference and workshop boom we had in September through to November 2021 with RWM, Resourcing the Future, RECOUP’s annual conference and so many other sector / material specific events, is now coming out of hibernation, and I am expecting a busy few months until June at least as we get out and about to any number of events that suit your interests, geography, and commercial interests. And one of the events I am really looking forward to returning to ‘in person’ is the Energy from Waste Conference, in association with EfW Net.
An important event for shaping the year?
The Energy from Waste Conference will be held on 9th and 10th March in London and early bird registration is already live! Its timing is excellent, given my expectations for the next batch of major Government reforms, updates and consultations and ahead of the first batch of local elections. We will have completed our current live submissions and be ready to reflect on those, whilst preparing for, or hopefully having had an early read of the new documents some debate about the key issues and concerns etc.
This event was a success last year, albeit on-line, with excellent content and speakers, but this year will be a different game entirely as we get the interaction, networking, side meetings and socialising aspects of the two-day event – so plan your sessions and logistics well to make the most of the opportunity!
On day one we have sessions covering policy reforms, changes to the UK energy market, investments in EfW and the need for projects to deliver on ESG etc., and how to fund and finance CCS. There will be parallel sessions looking at CCs and CCUS, engineering and project delivery, new markets, the role of EfW in the circular economy and feedstocks and alternative fuels – so something for everyone, whilst there will be case studies and plenty of refreshment breaks for that all important networking and sharing of ideas and issues etc.
Day two is equally interesting with panels debating NetZero delivery, the role of EfW in decarbonising other sectors (transport etc.) hydrogen opportunities and CCUS, whilst the parallel sessions will feature project delivery, heat networks, transport fuels, plant optimisation and much, much, more!
I just hope we can get some of the civil servants and ministers from DEFRA and BEIS to join some of the sessions, so they can hear first-hand about all the positive steps being taken on the journey to Net Zero etc. and all the practical implications we must consider before making any future investments.
Its time to get make it happen …..
So, with so much policy reform facing our sector, both in broad terms and more specifically for those of us engaged in EfW etc., there is a real need to maximise the opportunities to share, debate and learn from one another.
I am already signed up for Energy from Waste 2022, and will be speaking on day 2 and hopefully chairing a session or 2 as President of the CIWM. I have always enjoyed taking part, meeting old friends and chatting with new partners, whilst learning about the latest developments, the new case studies and the most progressive technologies and this year promises to deliver all of that and more!
So, book your spot soon, and plan your trip wisely. I will be available for pre-conference meetings (usually with a coffee in hand) and post conference meals, so don’t be shy and plan, plan, and plan again!!
But, until we see one another in London, don’t take it too easy. There is much we must progress, and our sector remains under the media spotlight because of our emissions, our size, our siting decisions or our contracts. The policy reforms will impact on what we handle and its calorific value whilst the public’s expectations will only rise with time. So we must engage in the consultations, we must showcase our ‘best in class’ and we must prepare our responses on the biggest issues of the day – from proposed EfW bans in some devolved administrations to the reality of carbon taxes, potential inclusion in ETS and the need to meet the campaigners head on with regards to our role as we transition to Net Zero. Good luck, and I hope to see many of you in London in March.
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As with all my ‘blogs’ they are mine and mine alone. If you would like to get in touch or comment on them then please do so, as I am more than open to some good ‘old-fashioned’ debate and dialogue. Please email me on email@example.com or follow me social media.
Adam is External Affairs Director at SUEZ Recycling & Recovery UK Ltd, working with DEFRA and other key industry stakeholders on the rapidly evolving policy landscape in the UK, and representing the company on numerous technical working groups and with the media. He is also President of the CIWM and a member of their Trustee Board, and Chair of the ESA’s Policy and Resource Strategy Working Group. He has over 25 years of waste & resource sector experience spanning academia, local government, consultancy and for the last 5 years in the private sector with SUEZ. He is also a Fellow of the RSA, RGS, CIWM and IOM3, and is passionate about #sustainability #greenskills and #mentoring.
Dr Adam Read, External Affairs Director @ SUEZ & CIWM President