Women of Waste (WoW!)




Women of Waste is an ISWA Task Force created by women to advocate and spotlight women’s work and achievements in the solid waste management sector.



Launch of WOW! Task Force!

ISWA is pleased to announce the new status of WOW! as an ISWA Task Force. Ad hoc Task Forces are created to handle special challenges not provided by a Working Group and the ISWA Board, meeting online on April 21, unanimously approved the WOW! proposal. The WOW! Task Force will comprise of an Expert Advisory Board and Coordination team for the next 12 months, with the purpose to support women’s contribution to the solid waste management sector and increase their visibility. 


So, in this months’ ISWA newsletter dedicated to waste workers and managers world-wide, WOW! brings to you three testimonials featuring female-led start-ups in collection, recycling, and the circular economy: meet  Sian Cuffy -Young, Trinidad and TobagoDea Wehrli, Switzerland and Margaret Maina, Kenya.


WOW! are promoting such case-studies in the upcoming WOW! Business Directory, a new project to help similar aspiring women innovate and replicate successful recycling projects with low to medium technologies and start-up costs.


The WOW! Business Directory will be a free online resource providing practical information, training/empowerment sources and motivating success stories encouraging women to develop their capacity and better access to sustainable waste management.


WOW! will also launch a new survey in Latin America and the Caribbean this year and if you are keen to support this and other WOW! activities, please do be in touch: wow(at)

Tribute to waste managers!

Shout out to women around the world working in times of Covid-19!

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) 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

What's next from Women of Waste?

Women of Waste announces our new upcoming project:

The WOW! BusiNess Directory

...will be a new free online resource TOOL designed for aspiring and empowering women professionals and informal waste management workers around the world. The aim is to empower women and enhance their role within the circular economy.


In response to gender specific needs apparent from our ISWA Paper 8170 Mapping the status of women in the global waste management sector,and from the 2nd and 3rd WOW! sessions during ISWA World Congresses in Kuala Lumpur and Bilbao WOW! proposes the project “Women of Waste Business Directory”.


The purpose is to meet the need for increased visibility, access to knowledge, support and training tools that are tailored to women working already or looking to get involved in the waste management sector in order to support them and increase their capacity.


In addition, the Directory is expected to serve as a database gathering and analyzing data about the women and their role in improving solid waste management (SWM) and therefore meeting an existing gap of information. Data collection and subsequent gender analysis can inform recommendations for a better synergic participation of all genders in the sector leading to overall improvements.


The directory would be set online on a website and organized in four sections, namely:

  • The Visibility section
    Provide a space for women to make their work visible around the globe
  • The Knowledge section
    Contain a careful curation of articles, books, talks and films around women involvement
    in waste management
  • The Solution section
    Help individuals explore the range of current solutions available to sustainable waste management.
  • The Action section
    Designed to empower women to create the largest impact through their chosen actions.

The WOW! Business Directory is expected to enable exchange of international experience and provide expertise on technical, financial and institutional aspects specifically related to gender issues and international waste management. 


The project foresees the participation and contributions of leading ISWA and external partners to increase the quality of activities and outputs of the WOW! activities.


We are exctited to get started! Please contact gnitzsche(at) for more information.

Founding Members

Georgina Nitzsche 

WOW! Coordinator


Georgina Nitzsche recently came to waste management from the Development sector, working 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. Georgina is convinced that women have a powerful role to play directly via the waste sector – especially when given the right support. She holds a MSc in Sustainable Development and Climate Change. Georgina was ISWA International Partnerships and Events Manager Spring 2016 - 2020 and is now the point-of-contact for WOW!

Maria Tsakona

International Waste Management Consultant


Maria Tsakona is an Environmental Engineer (MSc) with more than 14 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