November 15, 2010 | General

Editorial: Conferences Build Momentum

BioCycle November 2010, Vol. 51, No. 11, p. 4
Nora Goldstein

In mid-October, BioCycle hosted its 10th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling in Des Moines, Iowa. On the Friday afternoon before the Conference began, I overheard a coworker telling a caller wanting to register that there was “standing-room only.” Indeed, during several concurrent sessions on the first afternoon of the Conference, there wasn’t a seat to be found.
Record attendance at our 10th Annual Conference is extremely encouraging and energizing, especially given the continuing economic recession and a political climate that seems generally unresponsive to adopting policies that will truly stimulate growth in the renewable energy sector. So what is going on? Flying above all the media noise and political rhetoric is a very vibrant group of companies, public officials, nonprofit organizations and individuals who recognize the positive economic and environmental opportunities to be gained by generating renewable energy from organics recycling.
Interest at the Conference was high with regard to utilization of anaerobic digestion to process source separated organics, especially food waste. This included stand-alone digesters as well as the addition of municipal and industrial food waste streams to wastewater treatment plant and farm digesters. The reasons are purely economic – food waste streams provide revenue on both the front end (tipping fee) and back end (increased biogas production). For generators of high-strength industrial organics, diverting these residuals directly to digesters is typically cheaper, especially when sewer surcharges are taken into account.
Most presentations from BioCycle’s 10th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling are available at The 11th Annual Conference will be held in Madison, Wisconsin, October 31-November 1-2, 2011. In addition, there will be multiple tracks related to the topics presented in Des Moines at BioCycle Global 2011, our International Conference in San Diego, April 11-14.
The week after the BioCycle Conference, I attended the Resource Recycling Conference, sponsored by Resource Recycling magazine, in San Antonio, Texas. Executive Editor Jerry Powell had invited the editors of several publications, including BioCycle, to participate in a question-and-answer session about trends in municipal solid waste management. The Conference was held in part to fill a void left by the National Recycling Coalition, which had sponsored an annual Congress for many years. It was a great two days of learning and networking.
One question Powell asked during our session was if Zero Waste, as a concept, “has legs.” The answer I gave – after being at our renewable energy conference and listening and learning at the Resource Recycling Conference – was straightforward. “The downside of the phrase, ‘Zero Waste,’ is that people take it literally and become skeptical,” I replied. “What we really are talking about is Maximum Resource Use.”
Sessions and attendees at both Conferences are reflective of Maximum Resource Use in action. And together, we are at the forefront of building momentum and excitement for the players of all the industries we serve.

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