A look at the state of the US Waste & Recycling Industry after Waste Expo 2024

  Matthew Gawn


Market Intelligence Debrief: A Look at the State of the US Waste & Recycling Industry: Matthew Gawn reflects on Waste Expo 2024 as North America’s sustainability push gains traction.

Despite being a country that is almost 5 times the population of the UK, Waste Expo had approximately the same footfall as the Recycling & Waste Management Show (RWM) in the UK. This might reflect the relative maturity of the European market compared to the US, where waste management is gaining traction due to several factors. The US is actively transitioning towards a circular economy, with a growing focus on recycling as a source of valuable resources. Public consciousness about sustainability is rising, driving demand for responsible waste management practices. Sustainability legislation is on the rise too, pushing for reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) through improved waste management practices.

The exhibition floor highlighted a key difference between the US and European markets. The vast West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center was dominated by vehicles and transport equipment, reflecting the US industry’s emphasis on hauling and transportation. Recycling machinery had a much smaller presence compared to vehicles at the show.

The WasteExpo conference program covered a broad range of relevant topics. These included operations, fleet management, safety, recycling, landfill management, sustainability talks, business insights and policy, technology and innovation, the Food Recovery Forum, and organics recycling. While the program addressed essential issues like sustainability, organics, and food waste, there was a noticeable lack of in-depth discussions on the circular economy and material streams, reflecting a greater focus on recycling as a whole.

The conference program also highlighted interesting trends in the US market. A dedicated track addressed critical topics in waste management policy and business strategy. Sustainability, organics management, and food waste reduction were all prominent themes. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) and deposit return schemes (DRS) were also discussed, indicating a potential shift towards these models. Interestingly, landfill and recycling were often discussed within the same track, reflecting the current state of waste management in the US.

The ISB Global booth offered a platform for insightful discussions about waste management software. The value proposition of integrated solutions like ISB Global’s Waste & Recycling One was well-received, offering a clear advantage over fragmented point solutions lacking functionality, robust technology, seamless integration, and comprehensive support. Both small and large enterprises showed interest in migrating to integrated ERP software that can handle waste and recycling operations alongside accounting and finance functions. As the industry evolves towards a circular economy and digital transformation becomes more critical, managing operations on multiple applications will become increasingly complex.

The event also highlighted the growing importance of organics management. There was significant interest in Waste & Recycling One from companies involved in organics, composting, and anaerobic digestion (AD). This reflects the expanding organics market and the need for comprehensive software solutions to handle all aspects of these operations.

The presence of South American companies, including large municipalities already using SAP, was another interesting observation, signifying the growing importance of waste management and recycling in the region. This reflects the influence of factors like incoming legislation, market forces, rising public awareness, and the role of waste management in mitigating GHG emissions.

Waste Expo 2024 provided valuable insights into the current state of the US waste and recycling industry. While the event showcased the industry’s growth and focus on critical issues like sustainability and organics management, there’s still room for further development, particularly regarding a more comprehensive approach to the circular economy and recycling material streams. With increasing regulation and a growing focus on environmental responsibility, the US waste and recycling industry is poised for significant growth and transformation in the coming years.

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