Last week, the NEC in Birmingham held Europe’s premier recycling and waste management event, RWM.
The event invites more than 700 exhibitors, both new and returning, to showcase their products and services for waste, resource and energy management.
Attending the event with Prova, I was able to see how PR worked outside the office environment, which was a refreshing change to my previous placements in agencies. In the two days I was at RWM, I was able to learn more about the environmental sector and observe as Prova further developed its relationships with both existing and prospective clients.
Having never been to an event like RWM before, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Walking through the hall upon my arrival, I was amazed to see how huge the event was and how many people were there to take part.
There were 250 speakers at the event, giving presentations and seminars about their specific areas of expertise. I was able to sit in and listen to a few of these key insights into the waste management industry and also observe intriguing panel discussions about things I hadn’t realised would be of interest to me.
For example, I attended a panel discussion titled, ‘RDF export – an interim solution or a long-term trend?’ After a quick Google to find out what RDF actually was (refuse-derived fuel!), I felt a little more comfortable listening to the panelists’ opinions. One spokesperson talked passionately about finding better waste management solutions, frequently revisiting the issue of quality standards, which he thinks need to be set high in order to move forward. Describing RDF export as ‘a long way down the food chain’, far behind renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, he explained how he feels it is not financially valued enough by the Government. Most of the panelists agreed that RDF needs more of a public voice to continue innovation in the industry.
Another panelist discussion I listened to was called, ‘Reducing food waste to landfill – examining best practice strategies for increasing awareness of the problem and delivering behaviour change.’
Dean Pearce, commercial manager at ReFood (one of Prova’s clients), had some interesting insights about food waste, explaining how 50% of all food that is produced never actually reaches the human stomach – which anyone will agree is an enormous waste. Dean stated that we need to be using food waste as a resource, since it contains things like nutrients and energy.
The topic then moved on to communications, and what can be done to make the public more aware of the masses of food being wasted every day. Dean used an interesting example, commenting on how the popular TV show, The Great British Bake Off, showed subliminal negative messages towards food waste. In one episode, a contestant is shown throwing leftover food into a black waste bin and not a recycling caddy. Dean believes that even small, indirect messages like this could be making a difference to people’s opinions on food wastage.
I found that listening to this discussion was surprisingly fascinating and it allowed me to understand more about food waste and what we can do to reduce it.
My time at Prova has been short but sweet. Although I only spent two days in the office, I feel that this, along with the remaining days spent at the RWM event, was very valuable to me. Gaining experience is so useful for a graduate like me, and this week spent working with a dynamic agency like Prova has been great and very worthwhile!