I am delighted to say that we are ending 2021 in a celebratory mood, having announced a number of exciting successes in the final quarter of this year.
Our Zero Waste Cities Challenge has awarded six outstanding entrepreneurs with seed funding and business support to deliver their circular economy innovations. In Johannesburg, the focus was on food waste, and how to collect, compost and return organic material safely to the soil. Boombadotmobi and Bokashi Bran are working with a variety of communities to provide a valuable route for food waste, diverting it from landfill where it can cause climate change emissions.
In contrast, the winners in Ho Chi Minh were the University of Economics, which has ambitions to become the country’s first zero waste campus, and Veca, an app that connects waste collectors with recyclers, ensuring that often marginalised people get a fair price for their contribution to a cleaner city.
Finally, in Guwahati, the judges selected Shree Guru Plastics, a local business that provides a decent wage for waste pickers and turns low-value plastics into construction materials, and Inside Out, a start-up transforming the invasive weed water hyacinth into paper and fibreboard packaging.
These six innovations demonstrate the breadth of creativity that can deliver zero waste cities and an equitable, circular economy. They are now receiving intensive business support to make the most of the investment provided by our funder, Huhtamaki.
Dinesh Bandela, WasteAid’s Circular Economy Network Project Manager in India, with the semi-finalists of the Zero Waste Cities Challenge
In the last few weeks we have announced two very exciting new partnerships. The first is with the UK’s Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, which will see WasteAid set up a circular economy network in The Gambia, helping to professionalise the waste management sector and facilitate greater cooperation between public, private and community-based organisations. WasteAid has been running small-scale recycling initiatives in the Gambia since 2015 and this new project will really help raise the profile of waste management as a tool for sustainable development.
We have also just announced our first ever partnership with Dow Packaging, to run a plastics collection and recycling initiative in Aswan, Egypt. Again, we will adopt the circular economy network model to connect interested parties, and run an innovation competition to support grassroots businesses and organisations in keeping plastics out of the environment and in the loop.
It is reassuring to see how many different parts of society are now demonstrating a commitment to improved waste management, globally. In preparation for COP26 we launched our campaign, Poorly Managed Waste is a Climate Issue, drawing support from a wide range of interested parties. At COP26, WasteAid and partners delivered a panel event, “A Wasted Opportunity: Open Burning of Waste Causes a Climate and Health Calamity”. This was the only waste-related event to make it onto the official agenda in Glasgow and we were grateful to have the opportunity to deliver our message that waste management is climate action.
At COP26 WasteAid also hosted its own panel discussion, “The Burning Issue? Waste, Climate, Health and Development” in which we were honoured to be joined by the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources of the Gambia, HE Lamin Dibba, the Chief Executive of Huhtamaki Charles Heaulme, MSP Maurice Golden, Dr Cressida Bowyer of the University of Portsmouth and Dr Suzanne Bartington of University of Birmingham. The debate showed the importance of ending open burning of waste to prevent significant climate emissions, and importantly to protect people’s health.
I am looking forward to exploring more ways that we can work together – across borders, sectors and supply chains, to bring the benefits of an inclusive circular economy to the billions who still have no alternative to dumping or burning their waste.
Finally, I’m delighted to share some updates from within the WasteAid team. We welcomed Jerome Combes into the role of Head of Programmes and Impact, bringing with him many years of experience running impactful development projects in Africa. Jerome has picked up the reigns to our projects with huge positivity and we are excited to have him on board. We also welcomed Lucien Yoppa as our new Project Manager in Douala. Lucien has a wealth of experience in waste management in Cameroon and is already proving to be a fantastic addition to our projects funded by UK Aid and Bunzl plc, preventing ocean plastic pollution. We have also said good bye to two Trustees, Rachel Wildblood and Ray Georgeson, and thank them for their years of service in WasteAid’s early years. Our Board has recruited three new members, Claudio Deola, Enzo Martinelli and Deborah Sacks, and we are delighted to have their diverse expertise to help steer us through our next phase of growth.
We are hopeful that 2022 will see our team members be able to travel much more than recent years have allowed, as we embark on an exciting and very full programme of work. The global waste crisis is certainly attracting more attention than ever and we appreciate the support of every single one of you as we scale our impact where it’s most needed.
Wishing you all a healthy and happy new year!