President's Blog

27 Oct 2017 10:23 Age: 2 yrs

Guest Blog: "Making Waste Work" by Zoë Lenkiewicz

Category: ISWA News, ISWA Newsletter, WASTE INFO, ISWA BLOG, CloseDumpsites


Zoë Lenkiewicz is Head of Communications at WasteAid UK, a waste management charity. WasteAud UK has produced a toolkit on community waste management called Making Waste Work. In our latest guest blog, Zoe introduces us to the toolkit and explains how it can help communities manage their own solid waste in a self-sufficient, safe and affordable way.

The free online toolkit includes illustrated step-by-step guides to collecting and disposing of waste safely, sorting materials and setting up small-scale recycling enterprises. Available in low bandwidth mobile-friendly and print versions, Making Waste Work is free for anyone to download and share. It was funded by the UK’s Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and is hosted at


Many of the technologies described in the how-to guides were originally developed in Africa, Asia and Latin America, in places without formal waste management services. The toolkit will empower people to manage their own waste where government has failed. It aims to inform and inspire people to take action at a grassroots level, and to build an online network so that active communities can support and encourage one another.


Within 48 hours of being live, Making Waste Work was accessed from every continent and downloaded more than 200 times. Early feedback was overwhelmingly positive, coming from people in Peru, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, the Netherlands, USA and UK.


There is no other toolkit in the world dedicated to helping communities manage their own solid waste in a self-sufficient, safe and affordable way. Making Waste Work teaches people how to access the value in these waste materials by creating useful products, delivering sustainable livelihoods and protecting public health.


The toolkit was produced by WasteAid as the CIWM Presidential Report 2017. Professor David C Wilson, the new President of CIWM, led work for the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Solid Waste Association on the inaugural Global Waste Management Outlook (GWMO), published in 2015.


Many of the recommendations in the GWMO focus on ‘top down’ solutions, working with national governments and city municipalities to develop integrated and sustainable waste management systems. The GWMO did also recognise, however, the need for ‘bottom up’ initiatives, in particular community-based waste management that both tackles the local waste crisis and creates sustainable livelihoods. Such approaches are often the only hope for many smaller cities, towns and villages, as well as informal settlements around larger cities, where local authorities simply do not have the resources to provide any level of waste management service.


Mike Webster, WasteAid UK CEO, said, “The impacts of not having waste collected and disposed of properly are significant, from childhood diseases to aggravated flooding and marine litter. Making Waste Work highlights the benefits of even the simplest waste management initiatives, and shows that by separating waste materials and creating value chains, people can earn a modest income.”


WasteAid’s charitable objectives are to share knowledge, build skills and campaign for investment in waste management where there is none. Currently, solid waste management attracts a mere 0.3% of international development aid; WasteAid is campaigning for an increase to 3%.


1 in 3 people in the world do not have access to solid waste management services. As a result, people have no option but to burn or dump their waste close to their homes, with serious public health consequences. Plastic blocks drains, aggravating flooding and collecting stagnant water where disease-carrying mosquitoes breed. Waste plastic that is dumped often finds its way to the open sea and ultimately into the global human food chain.


In April 2017 WasteAid trialed an early form of the toolkit at an event in The Gambia organised and funded by the Arkleton Trust with participants from 11 low- and middle-income countries. The guidance was evaluated and developed over the three-day workshop, with technology demonstrations and masterclasses in business development and community engagement. Feedback from the 40+ international cohort (including people from The Gambia, Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and India) enabled WasteAid make significant improvements to the toolkit.


Mike added, “Since our launch in 2015, WasteAid UK has been contacted by hundreds of grassroots organisations from around the world, wanting help in tackling their local waste problems. We have worked hard to produce a useful and accessible guide that meets the needs of these communities. Making Waste Work will equip communities them with the right knowledge to make affordable but long-lasting improvements to how they manage their waste, with significant local and global consequences.”


Once again, the toolkit can be accessed here: