The 2018 CRNS Conference focus was very much on highlighting just how diverse the resources sector is in Scotland. The event took place in the Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor and the conference programme reflected the ‘diversity’ theme, with key speakers covering an array of subjects including the current circular economy strategy; Deposit Return Systems (DRS), plastics recycling, reuse and upcycling as well as the social benefits delivered by community resource projects. We had representation from Scottish Government, Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), the private sector and the community sector here in Scotland, as well as a visiting speaker from Community Reuse Network Ireland (CRNI) who enlightened us as to the resources landscape in Ireland too.
We were delighted to welcome Heather Reid OBE as our host this year. Heather did a fantastic job of ensuring the programme flowed, as well as bringing a science and climate perspective whilst injecting some light humour into the day too.
CRNS’ new Chief Executive Officer Michael Cook welcomed everyone and thanked sponsors and exhibitors for their support. Michael outlined the scope of his activities to date since joining CRNS in the autumn, the highlight of which has been visiting 20 members and seeing first-hand the great work which they are doing with significant environmental and social impacts. He also emphasised how much he is looking forward to meeting all the members and leading CRNS to serve the membership in the years ahead.
Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform officially opened the conference with an overarching ministerial address in which she emphasised the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting the circular economy. Ms Cunningham spent some time acknowledging the important role that CRNS plays in supporting local resource projects in carrying out their circular economy activities. She paid tribute to the numerous volunteers who contribute to the community sector by delivering significant services that impact positively on local communities, whilst also reducing the quantity of resources from going to landfill.
We were grateful to ZWS for sponsoring the conference and this year Jill Farrell, Chief Operating Officer at ZWS, delivered a keynote speech in which she informed delegates of ZWS’ key priority areas and of their circular economy programmes. Jill also gave an overview of the Scottish Government’s ‘Making Things Last – a circular economy strategy for Scotland’.
Following Jill was Jenni Hume, Campaign Manager from Have you got the Bottle? who provided us with an update on the current position of DRS, following the recent public consultation. Jenni covered the scope of materials to be included, the schedule and start dates and the implications for all parties involved.
Next to speak was Claire Downey, National Executive with CRNI, who delivered a very interesting insight into the community resources sector in Ireland, outlining similarities with Scotland but also highlighting areas where CRNI feels it could learn lessons from the Scottish sector.
The final speaker from the morning session came from the private sector. John Ferguson, Director of EcoideaM and one of the key players in Project Beacon, an advanced plastics and recycling facility based within the Binn Eco Park in Perthshire, gave a very inspiring keynote on the global and UK plastics problem. In particular, John explained the inadequacies of existing systems and outlined how Project Beacon aims to combat these through innovation and cross-sectoral solutions for plastics recycling.
The morning session ended with all speakers taking part in a Q & A with high audience participation as delegates put many varied questions to the specialist speakers to address.
An extended networking lunch ensued to enable maximum interaction with the 11 different exhibitors who were displaying information and products within The Market Place. There was undoubtedly a buzz of energy and chat in the room and it was great to see so many people mingling and interacting with the stall holders. The CRNS AGM also took place during lunch and this was well attended.
After lunch, delegates attended their choice of breakout session which enabled breakout hosts to share their knowledge and expertise with participants and engage them in discussion within a smaller group setting. The topics for these were:
Understanding Consumer Behaviour Around Reuse & Marketing Top Tips, hosts were Andrew Pankhurst, Campaigns Manager, Zero Waste Scotland and Matt Lopata, General Manager, Edinburgh Furniture Initiative
Sourcing, Securing and Valuing Volunteers, hosts were Biddy Kelly, Managing Director, Fresh Start and Allana Fotheringham, liV Manager, Volunteer Scotland
Working in Partnership with Your Local Authority, hosts were Robert Robb, Assistant Waste Resources Manager, North Ayrshire Council and Janice Crookston, Operations Manager, Cunninghame Furniture Recycling Company Ltd
All delegates then reconvened in the main conference suite to hear from 3 very different CRNS members during the popular ‘Spotlight on Members’ session.
Sam Mills Head of Projects at Changeworks enlightened everyone to the aims and workings of the Zero Waste Leith project, which is doing some fantastic work to clean up the streets of Leith with contributions from various local partners.
Bike reuse, recycling and promoting a healthier lifestyle, whilst diverting bikes from landfill, was next on the agenda. Jim Ewing, Senior Team Leader at CamGlen Bike Town provided a comprehensive overview of how Bike Town came about and informed delegates of their main priorities ie to help the environment, to foster a cycling spirit and to increase wellbeing.
Transform Community Development’s Chief Executive Officer Simon Laidlaw took to the stage next to provide an insight into the work of his organisation in the Dundee area and in particular his involvement with Fare Share Scotland. This initiative focusses on redistributing surplus food to frontline charities and community groups that support vulnerable people in their region.
The afternoon plenary session ended with an opportunity for delegates to ask questions of the 3 CRNS members about their respective projects.
The conference closed with an informal drinks reception, kindly sponsored by Every Can Counts. A great way for delegates to wind down after an informative and thought provoking day.
Click on each keynote speaker’s name to download their presentation:
Click on each breakout host’s name to download their presentation:
Understanding Consumer Behaviour Around Reuse & Marketing Top Tips – Andrew Pankhurst, ZWS
Sourcing, Securing and Valuing Volunteers – Biddy Kelly, Fresh Start & Allana Fotheringham, Volunteer Scotland
Working in Partnership with Your Local Authority – Robert Robb, North Ayrshire Council & Janice Crookston, Cunninghame Furniture Recycling Company Ltd
Thank you to Zero Waste Scotland for their conference sponsorship.