A brief history of the International Recycling and Recovery Congress, and what’s happening at the Vienna event in October

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Podium discussion at the IRC event.

A long-standing international event that offers perspective on recycling on recovery has shifted its focus in recent years, toward waste to energy, and techniques like incineration and pyrolysis. The organisers offer some background on the progress of an event that promises to offer perspective on the present and future of waste-to-energy

It all started with the idea to revive the International Recycling Congress (IRC), which took place on 10 ocassions between 1979 and 2001 in Berlin, Germany. This event was one of the first and one of the largest international waste management meetings at that time (600 to 3,000 delegates).

In 2009 some industry partners came up with the revival idea and tried to convince Professor Karl J. Thomé-Kozmiensky, the initiator of the IRC. At that time, everybody expected a boom in the waste management industry due to revised waste legislation in the new EU Member States, Poland in particular.

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Professor Thomé-Kozmiensky knew that times had changed – the waste management industry was much more diversified and specialised than it had been 10, 20 and even 30 years earlier. So it was much harder to establish an international congress that would attract 1,000 delegates or more. However, he liked the challenge and with the support of his partners from the industry, politics and science he felt it was worth a try.

The IRRC (International Recycling and Recovery Congress) is now in its ninth year. What has changed, beside the name? And what can you expect?

• The international event is now permanently located in Vienna, Austria – a role model in modern waste management. Subsequent to the IRRC, delegates have the chance to participate in a guided tour around selected waste treatment plants in Vienna.
• Professor Franz Winter (Vienna University of Technology) and Professor Dagmar Juchelkova, Ph.D. (Technical University of Ostrava) continue the work of Professor Thomé-Kozmiensky, as Scientific Chair of the IRRC, working closely together with the organising team of the Thomé-Kozmiensky Verlag GmbH.
• The IRRC is a forum for the exchange of information about materials flow management and closed substance cycle, applied technologies as well as organisational forms of countries that largely comply with the EU-norms and those that are only at the beginning of this development.
• The focus of the IRRC has shifted over the last years towards waste-to-energy, more specifically toward waste incineration and its alternative processes (mechanical-biological treatment, utilization of solid recovered fuels, pyrolysis and gasification).
• Professionals from politics, industry and science are invited to join us and enrich the lively exchange with their questions, knowledge and experience.

For this year only, attendees can register for an additional day. Since everybody is talking about Carbon Capture and Utilisation, the organiser has decided to plan a seminar on October 16, 2019 – subsequent to the IRRC 2019.

Every aspect from preparation to product finishing will be covered by the most prominent representatives of this young but promising industry which is frequently required to implement regulatory requirements on one hand, but also to offer improvements in respect of altering business models and economics of waste incinerators, on the other. There will be a special focus on CO2 to methanol, given the promising economics of the process and the availability of industrial technology.

The IRRC Waste to Energy takes place on October 14 – 15, 2019 and the Seminar on Carbon Capture and Utilisation on October 16, 2019 in Vienna, Austria. For further information go to www.irrc.at