Speaking on the opening day of the event, Ms Spelman used the opportunity to outline the new Government's approach to waste in the future, announcing a review of all existing waste policy. Pinpointing some of the challenges ahead, she highlighted the pace of change, the importance of exploiting the embedded value in waste, and the need for a new type of public consciousness about waste issues as some of the key areas that need to be addressed.
The event organisers, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA), welcomed her decision to attend and deliver a major policy announcement at the show.
"The Secretary of State has laid out important plans for the future and we look forward to being part of the review process moving forwards," says CIWM chief executive Steve Lee. "She has rightly identified that this industry is changing and faces a new set of challenges, including future infrastructure needs, better communication with consumers, and a wider focus that embraces commercial and industrial waste. We also welcome the intention by Defra to work more closely with key stakeholders and relevant Government departments, something CIWM has been calling for, and the recognition of the role our sector will play in helping to create a 'leaner, greener economy'."
Ms Spelman was joined at ExCeL by Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for waste and recycling, who toured the exhibition seeing the breadth of treatment technologies that the industry has to offer and finding out from exhibitors what their views are about the future of waste.
Northern Ireland's Environment Minister, Edwin Poots MLA rounded off the ministerial line-up on Tuesday, taking part in the Zero Waste conference session and touring the exhibition, and on the final day of the event, Jane Davidson AM, the Welsh Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing, gave a keynote address to around 100 visitors on the positive steps Wales has taken to build a more sustainable future and the launch (today) of the new waste strategy for Wales, entitled 'Towards Zero Waste'.
"This is a critical time for our sector and we are delighted that key ministers from across the UK took the time to attend Futuresource and engage with visitors and exhibitors. Our industry has a vital role to play in creating a more sustainable future, and developing a good, open relationship with those who shape future waste policy is an extremely encouraging sign," says ESA chairman Ian Goodfellow.
There has been a very positive response from many of the Futuresource exhibitors, with the quality of the visitors and the event organisation being singled out for particular praise. Plenty of business was done, with Finning/Caterpillar reporting over £2 million of potential business from the show.
"We had an excellent meeting with one of the major recycling companies at the show. We have had trouble in getting together because of clash of diaries, but Futuresource provided us with the perfect surroundings," said the company's business manager for recycling and waste Eddie Donald. "The meeting with the company's procurement team was extremely successful, with the opportunity for us to secure in the region of £2 million pounds worth of business."
Johnston Sweepers also had a strong show, and say that the leads generated have paid for their stand many times over. In addition, a substantial order was placed on the stand by Quatro Plant for no less than 12 of the firm's VT650 truck mounted sweepers.
Meanwhile Shaun Hamilton, UK sales director for Vehicle Weighing Solutions Ltd, said:
"We have had some excellent quality visitors on the stand and took orders to the value of around £98K - we are incredibly pleased and can confirm that we will definitely be back next year."