Keynote speaker, Tom Szaky, CEO and co-founder of TerraCycle, Inc., opened the Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) 47th Annual WASTECON conference and exhibition today at the Long Beach Convention Center.
TerraCycle, based in Trenton, New Jersey, is the first company to create products from and packaged entirely in solid waste. Mr. Szaky co-founded the company as a student at Princeton University and has grown the company over the past six years to become the leader in up-cycling with sponsored partnerships with America’s leading brands. TerraCycle also has offices in Brazil, Mexico and Canada and recently opened a branch in London to serve the European market.
Mr. Szaky has a unique perspective on the idea of waste. “Everything can be up-cycled and made into something else,” said Szaky. “Landfills are, essentially, incredibly poorly managed warehouses.”
Working with everyone from large corporations to small community organizations, Mr. Szaky’s business model focuses on the idea that the things we throw away are not garbage, but commodities that can be used to make new products, and ultimately, a profit. Mr. Szaky and TerraCycle have become more well-known within the past year with the release of Mr. Szaky’s book, Revolution in a Bottle, and the launch of TerraCycle’s reality television show, Garbage Moguls, on The National Geographic Channel.
Mr. Szaky spoke at an opening breakfast that also featured the amusing observations of comedian Tim Clue. Following the breakfast, the exhibit hall opening ceremonies began with the traditional Parade of Chapter Flags. SWANA International President Carl Newby and President-elect John Hadfield joined local representatives from Long Beach and members of the Southern California Founding Chapter of SWANA to welcome this year’s attendees. At 10:00 a.m., the exhibit hall officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a $1000 cash prize drawing.
The exhibit hall, featuring more than 190 vendors showcasing their products and services as well as educational sessions, is free and open to the public. The technical sessions, filled by presentations from leaders in the solid waste field, offer an insight into the growing and innovative field of solid waste management. SWANA encourages members of the local community to stop by the convention center and participate in the only international solid waste conference and trade show by solid waste professionals for solid waste professionals.
The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. For close to 60 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications and a large offering of technical training courses.