Sea Change is a tidal wave of success!

Connector October 2019

There was a swell of attendance at the 32nd Annual Waste Reduction Conference in Jasper, with a record 375 attendees. The 2019 conference theme was Sea Change, and guests were surrounded by nautical themes, from the session titles, to the costumes at Thursday’s banquet.

The meaning of Sea Change was explained by president Jodi Tomchyshyn London at the kick-off to the conference.

“Sea Change is a reference from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Shakespeare’s quote: Full fathom five thy father lies … / Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change,” Jodi continued. “Over the years, authors moved from the literal definition of Sea Change to a figurative definition. According to the Merriam Dictionary a Sea Change now means is a marked change or a transformation. This is really where we are all in the recycling world. A Sea Change.”

Speakers throughout the conference addressed this change with their own solutions; discussion on reduction and reuse from Loop, behaviour change from Ruben Anderson and an innovators panel full of outstanding transformational ideas.

The pre-conference sessions on Wednesday involved various tours and activities. Some headed into town for a food and history tour, others went horseback riding, golfing or toured the Lodge to learn about environmental programs.

The Circular Cities Workshop featured information about the RCA’s work with communities across the province to promote a Circular Economy. The group also heard from Trevor Gibson on Circular Economy initiatives in Peterborough, UK.

The two concurrent sessions on Wednesday afternoon were the Pirates of the North Saskatchewan (Recycling in Rural and Remote Regions) and All Hands on Deck: Recycling in Alberta – Impacts, Innovation and Investment. In the rural session the group heard from communities managing their recycling with distance and volume challenges. In the Alberta session, presenters touched on Alberta Recycling updates, the Beverage Container Management Board, the Ag Plastics Pilot update and the study from the RCA on the Economic Benefits of Recycling.

Thursday’s opening session was called Riptide and involved a number of passionate speakers – Ruben Anderson, Usman Valiante, and Dr. Dianne Saxe – who talked about circular economy and necessary behavioural changes that need to be made to the current system.

Anthony Rossi gave attendees some food for thought in his discussion of Loop’s reusable packaging and their pilots in communities across North America as well as discussing the brand owners that are participating in an effort to reduce packaging waste.

No materials were left behind, and after lunch on Thursday, Tonny Colyn, Odessa Ingarfield and Paul Long talked about textiles in the waste stream and opportunities for textile reuse and recycling.

Attendees for the afternoon concurrent sessions heard experts talk about enhancing measurement and accountability in waste diversion programs. The other session delved into the role of the media in creating awareness of waste issues.

The costumes on display at Thursday night’s POSH event banquet did not disappoint. The winner in the annual costume contest was Jeannie Bertrand, wearing the container of garbage from the Philippines. Other top props went to the garbage patch, Castaway, the mermaid wearing recycled plastic and King Triton, with honorable mention to the cast of Gilligan’s Island.

Despite the celebration and dancing at the banquet, Friday morning saw a great turnout of attendees. Ocean plastics were discussed in the first session. This was followed by ten innovators  working on exciting disruptive approaches from vermicomposting, to biomimicry and school reduction programs. That concluded another year of the RCA conference, with the most enthusiastic attendees and a great discussion about waste reduction!

Presentations are available on the website now https://conference.recycle.ab.ca/proceedings/. Stay tuned for upcoming audio and slide clips from the plenary sessions along with video highlights from the conference and podcasts of the presentations, so you can listen on the go.

Thanks, as always, to our amazing sponsors, exhibitors and volunteers – we could not do it without you!