Guest Blog: “Suddenly” at the Winter School

Aug 30, 2023 | ISWA blog, ISWA news, YPG

Audrey Moretti Martins

Audrey Moretti Martins

PhD Student in Hydraulic Engineering and Sanitation from the University of São Paulo (USP) | Researcher of the NEPER - Nucleus for Study and Research in Solid Waste | Professor at the University of Araraquara

“The best things in life happen suddenly.” said Gazel de Klerk in our first conversation on the bus, leaving the landfill, when I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Winter School and receiving her invitation to write for ISWA blog. The whole experience that I will report below made me reflect on how real this phrase is.

In July 2022, I attended the 5th Online Conference organized by ISWA’s Young Professionals Group (YPG). My “suddenly” arrived, bringing a lot of surprise and joy, through an email communicating that my work had been awarded with a full scholarship for the ISWA-SWIS Winter School 2023. Ten months after that memorable afternoon, I was traveling to Texas to live this experience.

For two weeks, professionals from different continents met with a common goal: to discuss the challenges of sustainable solid waste management.

The course mix theory and practice, with the aim of making participants learn from theory and apply the knowledge in the real world.

In the theoretical part, technical themes and management themes were worked on. Among the technical topics we studied: waste characterization; notions about landfill sizing; use of technologies in waste management (such as drones, equipment, vehicles); recycling; landfill gas and gas to energy; odor control; and landfill mining. About management we learned: Public Private Partnership; waste economics and operational finance; sustainable waste management (considering social, economic and environmental aspects).

In the practical part, participants had the opportunity to visit places such as: Irving Landfill, Arlington Landfill, Grand Prairie Landfill, Fort Worth Republic Service (recycling plant) and Garland Landfill. We were able to experience the routine of workers who contribute to maintaining cleanliness and health in cities.

Finally, the practical part includes group work, in which participants were divided in four groups under supervision, to develop a case study to apply all the knowledge acquired over the two weeks.

With all the knowledge acquired, my wish is that we all return to our countries full of energy and ideas to contribute to the resolution of major challenges in the area, such as: the reduction in waste generation; replace dumps with sanitary landfills; create job opportunities for professionals in the field; disseminate environmental education, awareness and source separation; expand selective and organic collection.

Finally, I would like to thank God for this gift, and ISWA and ISWA-YPG for believing in my work. To Dr. Sahadat Hossain, and the other speakers for sharing knowledge and for presenting the Texas waste management system. I also thank the receptivity and empathy of the organization, which gave us all the support during our stay in Texas, making us feel at home. The course is excelente gives us a complete view of the field and, without a doubt, I recommend it to everyone who wants to learn more about solid waste, expand their horizons, exchange experiences, meet new people and cultures, and learn more about life.

“Know all the theories, master all the techniques, but as you touch a human soul be just another human soul.” – Carl Jung


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