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Success at the first annual conference for the North East Sustainable Resources Board NESRB

Over 70 delegates from the North East turned out last week for the first Annual Conference of the North East Sustainable Resources Board, which highlighted the work achieved by the NESRB in its first year and focused on the ‘Opportunities for Today’ that are available to help the waste/resource management sector in the North East.

The event, organised by the NESRB and Renew, held at the Wilton Centre, was designed to promote the Board and showcase its achievements in its first year of operation. The Board aims to provide companies in the North East with leadership support and strategic guidance in relation to waste and resource management. The day was structured around six speakers who highlighted opportunities regarding various waste and resource management issues.

The conference began with a welcome address from The Right Honourable Lord Cunningham of Felling, chair of the NESRB, who highlighted the progress made by the Board in its first year and its visions for the future. Lord Cunningham declared that in 2009, £33 million worth of waste resources were sent to landfill in the North East and that the NESRB aimed to reduce that figure and make a real difference by putting the North East at the forefront of the waste management sector.

Lord Cunningham, said: "We are very pleased with the excellent turn out at the event today with representatives from both private and public sector organisations and we feel it has been a great success. The event concludes the Board’s first year in existence in which we have delivered real projects that offer real value for both commercial and industrial waste services. We have developed a unique GIS mapping tool so people can access waste and resource disposal and treatment facilities in the North East and as part of today’s conference we are launching the Sustainable Resource Management Plan, which scopes out how businesses could reduce costs by using resources more sustainably."

He added: "We were delighted to welcome representatives from Defra and WRAP to the conference to talk about how the North East can link with national organisations to achieve our aims and become more resource efficient."

Neil Thornton, Director of Climate, Waste and Atmosphere at Defra, gave an overview of the national waste landscape and resource sustainability and the Government’s views on upcoming ‘green’ issues. Regarding the event, he said: "I am pleased to be able to have had the opportunity to speak about the Government’s response to sustainability resources and the green economy."

Carl Nichols, Head of Contract Management at WRAP, spoke about how it is helping North East SME’s increase their resource efficiency using three online programs that have been launched:

– Ripple Effect: a free water efficiency initiative that can benefit businesses of all sizes and can help reduce water use and save money.
– Rethink Waste: a free online training programme to help manufacturers reduce waste, improve resource efficiency and save money.
– eQuip: a leasing scheme set up by WRAP that helps companies secure financial assistance for new and second hand recycling plant and machinery.

Mr. Nichols said: "The conference has been a great success. I welcome the opportunity to talk about what WRAP is doing to support SMEs to become more resource efficient and would encourage businesses in the region to contacts us and use the support and resources that are available to them."

Peter Scholes of Urban Mines presented the interim results of the North East Commercial and Industrial Waste Survey and Dioni Spiliopoulou of Arup, demonstrated the new GIS Waste Resources Portal that the NESRB has developed. Andrew Smith of Government Office for the North East and Chair of the Board’s Steering Group, launched the Scoping Document of the Resource Management Plan.

Delegates ended the day with a site visit to the new Anaerobic Digestion Development Centre (ADDC) at Wilton, which is an open access, asset-based facility operated by CPI. It is designed to help organisations of all sizes solve organic waste problems quickly and cost effectively through the development of bespoke anaerobic technologies. They also saw the Innovation Accelerator, which assists SMEs in science, technology, engineering and the life sciences by providing guidance in intellectual property, business start-up support, market intelligence, entrepreneur programmes, technology commercialisation and the innovation accelerator incubator.

The NESRB was officially launched in January 2010 with the remit of providing leadership and vision to promote and develop the concept of waste as a resource and maximise the commercial opportunities from those resources. It creates value out of recovered resources to bring investment into the North East and creates low carbon business opportunities. It aims to encourage collaborative work between public and private sectors and change businesses concept of waste, into a valuable resources, which they can use.

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