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29 Sep 2021

RWM 2021: Connecting the Resource Revolution

With RWM 2021 promising to be the UK’s leading event for the recycling, resource, and waste management industry, the pressure was on for the new organisers, ROAR B2B, to deliver an event that truly connected the industry after nearly 2 years of unprecedented times. It’s safe to say, however, that this was achieved on the 22nd & 23rd September at the NEC Birmingham in a two-day event full of expert speakers, innovative suppliers, and attentive visitors coming together to form one of the most resilient sectors in the game.

Bringing in exhibitors from around the world, the exhibition saw business at its best. It isn’t easy getting back in the room after such a long time of virtual interaction, however the industry showed that meaningful professional connections form an important part of the sector, and RWM was pleased to facilitate this. With some impressively designed stands, each exhibitor made the most of the two days conversing with colleagues, clients, and friends old and new. CIWM’s stand at the heart of the exhibition floor provided a central hub for visitors to draw towards, and exhibitors all across the show created engaging environments for everyone to enjoy. Visitors certainly made the most of meeting with companies such as Clearabee, Intermet, Qualitech, WasteHero, SENSONEO, myenergi, AMCS Group, Keenan Recycling, Perry Process Equipment, and CK International. Alongside this, the Machinery Trail showcased impressive products from companies such as Bucher Municipal,, Fogmaker, SANY, Terberg Matec, Welfare Vans 4 Less, BOMAG and Romaquip.

New features to the 2021 event included the Local Authority Lounge, dedicated to representatives from local authorities from across the UK. This relaxed lounge offered a quieter space allowing visitors to network with fellow local policy makers and discuss innovative schemes being implemented in their area. Not only this, but the neighbouring Inn on the Green allowed visitors, exhibitors, and partners to reconnect and catch up on the busy day with a drink in hand.

The conference-level content programme proved itself to be a fantastic addition to the exhibition, with 11 theatres positioned around the show floor. The insightful opening keynote on day one welcomed the ‘Leading the Resource Revolution’ panel featuring John Scanlon, CEO at SUEZ, Kevin Bradshaw, CEO at Viridor, and Claire Shrewsbury, Director Insights & Innovation at WRAP speaking about the changes that need to be made for the sector to adapt and continue its transition to a circular economy. With EPR being a hot topic at this discussion, Mr Bradshaw stated that its introduction should drive investment in infrastructure, and that any reforms within the Resources and Waste Strategy would have to work in tandem to “turbocharge private investment in recycling infrastructure.” Following on from this, the introduction of a deposit return scheme (DRS) caused scepticism amongst the panellists, with Mr Scanlon commenting that it would be the wrong time to introduce a DRS after the increase in working from home habits. Instead, kerbside collections would be more effective. When it came to the topic of prevention and reuse, Ms Shrewsbury spoke about the importance of reuse hubs when utilised effectively, but also that the consumer should take greater responsibility to find alternative service models.

The afternoon keynote sessions were kicked off by Chris Preston, Deputy Director for Resource and Waste, Environmental Quality at Defra. With Mr Preston joining the busy theatre via video link, it was clear to see the importance of his perspective on the future of the Resources and Waste Strategy following the consultations on key waste reforms. Other busy sessions included day two’s panel session on what we can expect from COP26, climatologist Professor Mark Maslin’s talk on ‘actions we can take to help save our planet’, and the ‘building back better’ talk from Rt, Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben, to name but a few.

A special highlight of the show was the WasteCare networking area and their ‘Art of Recycling’ showcase. This area saw the return of the double-decker networking bus, and of course the recycled-battery elephant which proved a hit back in 2019. In an impressive array of recycled materials sculpted into works of art, a number of new animals also joined the show this year, including a polar bear, an eagle, a giraffe, a bumblebee, a meercat, a mountain goat and an ostrich.

ROAR B2B would like to thank those who have already provided positive feedback, commending aspects such as the quality of visitors, exhibitors & speakers, the sustainable changes to the show, and the fantastic customer service of the RWM event team. Next year welcomes the addition of Letsrecycle Live to the NEC Birmingham on 14th – 15th September 2022, creating one unifying event acting as the perfect platform for the recycling, resource, and waste management industry.


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