Women of Waste (WoW!)




Women of Waste is an informal group supported by the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) created by women in the waste management industry to advocate and spotlight women’s work and achievement in the waste sector.



The Future is Round!

Empowering Women in Recycling and the Circular Economy
A Session by Women Of Waste (WOW!) in three parts


16:30 – 18:30, 7th October
Meeting Room 0D-2
Euskalduna Conference Centre

Bilbao, Spain


See Session Flyer here:

See Session teaser video here:


Learn more about the ISWA World Congress here:


At the ISWA World Congress 2019, this year in Bilbao in Spain, WOW! are honoured to host a 2 hours curated session together with six great partners actively supporting and researching gender (and women specifically) in waste management:

    • Ruta Aidis, Gender Expert, ACG Inc. (USA)
    • Delila Khaled, Recycling Expert Consultant, (USA)
    • Malini Patel, Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality, Banyan Global (USA)
    • Sonia Dias, WIEGO (Brazil)
    • Claudia Giacovelli, Associate Programme Officer, IETC – UNEP (Japan)
    • Gabriela Garcés Sánchez, University of Stuttgart - ISWA / Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (Peru/Germany)
    • Maria Tsakona, Qgreen (Greece)

The connecting theme of the session this year is: Empowering Women in Recycling and the Circular Economy. We are responding to the results of the WOW! 2018 global survey of women working in the waste sector, showing that 51.6% of respondents are working in waste prevention, reuse/repair/refurbishment and recycling and the majority of younger women starting their careers here as well: women are climbing the waste hierarchy. 


The session will analyze key factors related to women and waste management, with a focus on recycling and activities in the circular economy.  The organisations and speakers showcase their current work to support women’s contribution by identifying the harsh barriers to participation and then presenting new approaches and tools to support them.


Our speakers are presenting their research-based gender analyses from two recently published international studies, first in the Latin America and the Caribbean (Banyan Group for USAID) offering policy recommendations and best practices in a panel discussion.   


We are proud to host the launch of a brand -new policy brief GENDER AND WASTE NEXUS REPORT AND POLICY BRIEF (UNEP IETC / GRID-Arendal). This is followed by examples of new projects designed with a gender dimension in mind:  developed in a cooperation between the University of Stuttgart and the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability at IIT-Madras.


Additionally, we are launching the WOW! Business Directory - a motivating and practical Toolkit designed to help women innovate and replicate successful recycling projects with low to medium technologies and start-up costs.


This is a call-to-action session to empower women in the waste sector, to promote women’s access, entrepreneurial creativity and leadership skills! The Future is Round!

This session features a live link interview with via Skype Sonia Dias, from WIEGO.

    See Session Flyer here:

    See session teaser video here:


    @Banyan_Global  @USAID, @Malini_Patel  @Rutaaids @Delila_Khaled

    @ISWA_org #ISWA2019

    #gendergap, #women, #economicempowerment


    Learn more about the ISWA World Congress here:


    About Women of Waste

    Women make a strong contribution to this sector from the home front and as engineers, coordinators, policymakers. There are women pioneers, activists, recyclers, researchers as well as high-level managers and ministers of government – women are out there, but just not very visible. Women of Waste wants to change that.


    We want to support and spotlight women’s work and achievement in the waste sector. WoW was conceived at the ISWA World Congress in Novi Sad in 2016 by Gali Feldboy-Klinger (Israel), Maria Taskona (Greece) with Georgina Nitzsche (ISWA) and later joined by Frida Jones (Sweden) and Gabriella Garces (Peru/Germany), for more names click here. Since then we have been joined by other great women, we reviewed the range of the female contribution to the industry and set out our ambitions for the way forward.

    Our Mission

    • To create an online network or forum
    • To conduct research on women in the sector
    • To provide supportive tools
    • To offer capacity building training for professional development
    • To share inspiring stories from women worldwide (and their male supporters)
    • To run advocacy campaigns to promote awareness and visibility of women
    • To highlight options for a rewarding career in sustainable waste management

    Founding Members

    Georgina Nitzsche 

    Events Manager

    International Solid Waste Association ISWA


    Georgina Nitzsche recently came to waste management from the Development sector, working in professional communication on issues of human security, capacity building and community engagement in Europe, Western Asia and the Middle East for civil society, government and international organizations such as the UNDP, UNICEF and Women without Borders. Already convinced that women hold a strong potential to change consumption and resource management at home, Georgina is really excited to see that women have a powerful role to play directly via the waste sector – especially when given the right support. She joined ISWA’s Communication, Marketing Events department in Spring 2016 and is the ISWA point-of-contact for WOW!

    Maria Tsakona

    International Waste Management Consultant


    Maria Tsakona is an Environmental Engineer (MSc) with more than 10 years of experience in directing and managing environmental engineering projects in the field of solid waste management: formulation of waste management plans and strategies, reuse and recycling programs, environmental impact assessment studies and feasibility studies. She has participated in several EU funded projects and has experience in Information and Communication (ICT) tools in environmental management. During the past seven years, Maria had the opportunity to participate in several international conferences and projects, which had contributed in increasing her understanding of major global waste management challenges and opportunities. Although there have been several issues that have attracted Maria’s attention, she has chosen to focus on two: marine litter and women of the waste sector.


    Read an interview with Maria Tsakona in ISWA Newsletter

    Frida Jones, Ph.D. 

    Researcher and Project Manager

    RISE - Research Institutes of Sweden


    Frida Jones is a researcher at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden with a PhD in inorganic chemistry focusing on characterisation of solid waste for combustion, and waste combustion chemistry. Parts of her PhD work were conducted in Canada and Frida has also worked with waste-related projects in Brazil, India, and South Africa. Frida has worked with waste related questions since 2007, and has recently been the coordinator of the EU-funded FP7-project Wastecosmart, working with innovations in the waste management area together with six other European countries. Frida hopes that the Women in Waste-initiative can strengthen women’s position in the waste world, and also make their work more visible. 



    Dr. rer. nat. Gabriela Garcés S.

    Consultant & Researcher - Environ. Res. Management, Water, Waste Ecosystems, Bioenergy

    Project and Partnership Development, Training


    Gabriela Garcés is a Peruvian biologist and environmental consultant with experience in applied research and development projects in the fields of waste treatment and management, water quality, reuse, hygiene, watershed management and environmental quality assessments. She worked in Germany, Central America and Peru with local governments, NGOs and international organizations in interdisciplinary projects, participatory planning processes and advising the private sector and decision makers on residue management and ecosystem protection. As independent consultant she is committed to knowledge transfer and capacity building, providing expertise and building networks for project development, and splits her time between Germany and Peru. Gabriela earned her doctoral degree in natural sciences at the Technical University of Munich, and studied Sustainable Resource Management. 

    Gallery of Women of Waste

    Kat Heinrich, Senior Consultant at Rawtec

    Katherine Heinrich is passionate about improving waste and resource management practices on loval and global levels. She works at Rawtec, acts as Chair and Lead to the ISWA Young Professionals Group, and runs a blog tackling the topic of food waste management in cities 'Beyond Food Waste'. Kat Heinrich recently won the annual Green Industries SA Women in Waste Award. 


    Link to the Award announcement in Inside Waste



    Dr María Mendiluce, MD at WBCSD


    Dr María Mendiluce, Managing Director at World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), developed the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi) – which brings over 180 global companies together to deliver the transition to a low-carbon world. Her work in climate and the circular economy has helped businesses across the world understand the economic opportunities associated with the sustainability and the “circular mindset.”


    Watch her TEDxDonauinselSalon talk about circular economy tackling the climate challenge




    Photo source: New York Times on YouTube

    Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner, New York City Sanitation


    Appointed in March 2014, Commissioner Kathryn Garcia leads the nation’s largest municipal waste management agency and its 9,700 uniformed and civilian employees. After her appointment as the Department’s 43rd commissioner, Garcia set an ambitious long-term goal for New York City: send zero waste to landfills by 2030.


    Video "Where Does New York City's Trash Go?" by The New York Times featuring an interview with Kathryn Garcia



    Photo source: the Repair Café Website

    Martine Postma, Founder of the Repair Café

    Since 2007, Martine Postma has been striving for sustainability at a local level in many ways. Postma organised the very first Repair Café in Amsterdam on October 18, 2009, which has since then became an international movement with over 1.300 Repair Cafés existing worldwide under the patronage of the Repair Café Foundation. 


    Link to the official Repair Café website



    Photo credit: Kathryn Kellogg

    Kathryn Kellogg, Author at Going Zero Waste


    Kathryn Kellogg started transitioning to sustainable living back in college after experiencing health issues. Since then Kellogg has completely embraced the Zero Waste way and embarked on a journey to share her experiences and educate others about living consciously. 


    Visit Going Zero Waste blog


    Photo source: Nordic Business Forum

    Selina Juul, Founder of Stop Wasting Food 


    Selina Juul founded Stop Wasting Food (Stop Spild Af Mad), Denmark's largest movement against food waste, in 2008. Originally from Russia, Selina Juul was shocked to see the amount of wasted food in Denmark after she arrived in the country at the age of 13. Her work became pivotal in reducing Denmark's food waste by 25% in the last five years.


    Visit Selina Juul's official website 



    Photo source: Zero Waste Home

    Bea Johnson, a Zero Waste Lifestyle leader


    Bea Johnson adopted the Zero Waste lifestyle in 2008 and quickly became internationally recognised as the Zero Waste expert through her website and book, Zero Waste Home. She proposes a simple rule of 5R’s of generating as little waste as possible: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (and only in that order).

    Visit the official Zero Waste Home website



    Photo source: Waste Dive

    Jo-Anne Perkins, VP of Environmental Systems and Services at Cascade Cart Solutions


    Jo-Anne Perkins joined the family business and worked various roles until her late 20s, when she left to start her own company in the waste sector. After 13 years she sold her business and joined Cascade Engineering. She initiated the pink cart program in association with the American Cancer Society. 


    Read an interview with Jo-Anne Perkins on Waste Dive



    Photo source: the Ministry of Waste

    Samanta Skrivere, Co-Founder of the Ministry of Waste


    The idea of Ministry of Waste was born during a trip in the Philippines which left Samanta Skrivere with a strong feeling of wanting to do something about the beach waste issue. After 8 years spent in different roles within the IT industry and volunteering with various startups, she took the jump into the polluted waters of our oceans. The Ministry of Waste is a social venture facilitating contact between disadvantaged communities in Asia, which collect the plastic waste polluting local beacher for reselling, and waste industry innovators and global leaders of sustainability, who make use of the material. 


    View the official Ministry of Waste website