The Parables of the Bird Poo, Vibrators, and Chemical Weapons: what hazardous waste can tell us about sustainable development.

A talk from EMF 2022 by Jelly

On Friday June 3, 2022 at in Stage A

Starting with a brief introduction to the concept of Sustainability and the Sustainability Triangle (Environmental, Economic, & Social Aspects), and introducing my background (exploring the contradictions between being an environmental activist and a chemical engineer, working in oil and gas, and moving to waste management).

We will then move on to a number of short "parables" each exploring an interesting anecdote from my career, and using them to show the inherent conflicts between different sustainability domains.

- Environmental: Bird Poo, trying to convince a customer than sending skips of rubble for incineration "to avoid landfiil" was not in fact environmentally friendly, despite their best efforts to justify this based on the fact it contained some pigeon droppings.

- Economic: Vibrators, exploring the underlying reasons why my first day working in waste management, comprised having to find a home of 80 oil drums which had been inexplicably filled with sex toys.

- Social: Chemical Weapons, how running a project to dispose of "orphaned" gas cylinders of Chemical Weapons and Rocket Propellants discovered lurking in a shipping container, gave me a fresh perspective on our duties to each other as human beings.

Depending on run-time we may take in some other (sometimes cryptically named) anecdotes such as:

- Accidentally advising the UN Environment Programme.

- Arguing with DEFRA as a hobby.

- Trying to understand the environmental impact of shampoo.

- "The million pound milk-bottle".

- "The gas man cometh".

Before finally approaching a short wrap-up segment with the goal (but not promise) of tying up those lessons into a cohesive take-away about how attendees can think about sustainability.