Invited Session: Energy Recovery

New Community Engagement Techniques to Avoid Costly Delays for EfW (0.5 CEU)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
14:00 – 14:30
Room 320

Moderator: Athanasios (Thanos) C. Bourtsalas; Adjunct Professor, Earth & Environmental Engineering, Columbia University; Manager, Earth Engineering Centre/ Global WTERT-Council

America is at the dawn of a new golden age for energy from waste (EfW), but the technology still has an outdated reputation, which could cause widespread public opposition resulting in delays. America needs new, but proven community, engagement techniques to make the most of the new opportunities, potentially saving millions of dollars for U.S. businesses. EfW needs more than a simple PR exercise. To change public attitudes, we must first understand the fundamental human behaviors that are the bases for opposition. Using experience from around the world, both good and bad, this presentation will demonstrate that there is a lot of work that needs to done before developers start talking about specific projects – without which more harm could be done. This presentation will not only explain the reasons for public opposition to EfW on a global scale but, more importantly, it also will show the benefits from an alternative approach to community engagement. The presentation will explain the strategies and three levels of communications needed to gain public acceptance for EfW quickly, including how we delivered of a new EfW plant, without any significant public opposition, in less than nine months.

Delegates will be better able to develop community engagement plans that could not only minimize public opposition to EfW developments, but that could enhance the developers reputation in the process. This could not only save substantial amounts of money, but it may also save considerable time in avoiding delays. The presentation will show some of the Dos and Don'ts for community engagement for new EfW plants, so delegates can avoid mistakes made elsewhere while also picking up on those techniques which have recently been proven to be more beneficial to projects.


Paul Davison, Managing Director, Proteus Public Relations Ltd

Paul Davison

Originally trained as an environmental engineer, Paul Davison has more than 25 years of public relations experience in business-to-business communications, community engagement, crisis management and environmental issues management. He has delivered environmental communications programs across Europe, Africa, North and South America, the Middle East and the Far East. Mr. Davison runs Proteus, an award-winning communications consultancy, which he helped establish in 1996. His track record combines high-level strategic communications consultancy specializing in community engagement, energy, waste management and human motivational communications. Mr. Davison makes regular presentations at conferences around the world and has had articles published on environmental communication issues. Mr. Davison has worked in many sectors including energy, renewable energy, transport, property, chemicals, cement, packaging, telecommunications, retail and housing, but his favorite sector is wastes management. Mr. Davison has helped to change attitudes towards the waste sector throughout the world and helped support the development of essential infrastructure, recently helping to gain planning approval for and EfW site in the United Kingdom in less than 10 months. Increasingly Mr. Davison has worked with organizations trying to improve understanding of environmental issues with external audiences including the general public.