President's Blog

2 Oct 2017 08:48 Age: 2 yrs

President's Blog: Baltimore: The congress that gave us so much more.

Category: ISWA News, ISWA BLOG


Just a few days ago, on September 25th, 2,300 participants from more than 60 countries, met in Baltimore, for a unique event in which combined the ISWA World Congress with WASTECON, the biggest waste management event in USA.

In terms of participation, this easily constitutes the largest ISWA event ever! We are more than thankful to SWANA, ISWA’s National Member in North America, for delivering such a huge, complicated but still exceptionally well managed conference.  

This time, most participants were from the American continent and less European, as was expected. But this mixture, which was also reflected in the program, made the conference super interesting. I have never seen so many people rushing from one session to another so quickly! But our lives became much easier since we were using SWANA’s event mobile app, probably the most interactive and user friendly conference app I have ever used!

I think in terms of the content, this congress was more multidimensional than others and thus, more global too. There were fantastic discussions (if I must pick just one I would pick the CEO's panel with 2 of the biggest companies in the world) and great sessions regarding all the major waste and resource challenges. I was also impressed by the depth and the detail involved in SWANA’s work on Health & Safety issues – I think that by this work SWANA is setting the scene for the whole industry, worldwide.


ISWA delivered high- level content presenting 3 new reports, that were directly linked with the main challenges discussed in the conferences. 


On Monday September 25th, ISWA presented the results of its global survey, with 1000+ participants, regarding the impacts of the 4th Industrial Revolution on the Waste Management Sector.  A very interesting panel discussion took place, and overall it was agreed that huge waves of change are coming and the waste industry has to be prepared for them.


On Tuesday September 26th, in a morning session, ISWA presented its first work on “Barriers to Sustainable Resource Management”.  The work deals with Circular Economy efforts related to plastic packaging and jeans, and through a dialogue with the designers’ world it provides useful insights for the future of eco-design and the role of the waste management sector.


Finally, on Tuesday 26th, in a fully packed afternoon session, ISWA presented its ground-breaking report on Marine Litter and its linkages with Waste Management. The report details the importance of capturing litter upstream before it becomes unmanageable ocean pollution. The main message is simple and crystal clear.  The best Marine Litter prevention is to invest in Circular Economy and Leakage Management in the global North and in Waste Management infrastructure in the global South.


There were other great moments too, let me pick just three of them, although each one deserves a separate blog post. SWANA raised US $ 45,000 for ISWA’s Scholarship Program, breaking the previous NVRD’s record. The Young Professionals delivered key-ideas on the world’s most challenging waste management problems following their online survey. ISWA’s group Women of Waste launched their programme and set the next steps for this initiative.

As I was flying back to Europe after five great days in Baltimore for the ISWA-SWANA Annual Congress 2017, I was feeling grateful for being part of this magnificent, vibrating and continuous expanding ISWA family. 


I also felt deeply thankful to SWANA’s community for their warm hospitality and the enthusiastic welcome of ISWA’s people. But this all about people that spent time and energy for at least 2 years to deliver such a conference. So, congratulations to SWANA’s CEO David Biderman and to SWANA’s Deputy Executive Director (on Programs & Membership) Ms. Meri Beth Wojtaszek. Thank you so much for transforming an ISWA conference into such an amazing experience.