This article was written for Circular Online, a daily news and insights resource for sustainability professionals working in resources and waste.

Zoë Lenkiewicz, Head of Programmes and Engagement for WasteAid, looks back at two years since launching the WasteAid toolkit, Making Waste Work.

It’s been two years since the WasteAid Toolkit, Making Waste Work, was published online. A free guide to waste management for communities in lower- and middle-income countries, the toolkit was funded through the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management President’s Fund, courtesy of then incoming President, Dr David Wilson.

The toolkit was designed to fill a gap in providing waste management essentials for communities in parts of the world without decent waste management.

Some 3 billion people in the world don’t have access to safe waste disposal so it’s imperative that people be given the right tools to manage wastes in a low-tech and low-cost way.

The toolkit is in 2 volumes: the first provides non-technical background knowledge for people to organise waste management on a community level; and the second part is a series of step-by-step illustrated guides to turning common waste materials into useful products.

An early draft was trialled in The Gambia with people from more than a dozen countries (with the Arkleton Trust, picture below), and a large team of volunteers from CIWM and around the world reviewed individual sections. The very talented illustrator Susan Hatfield produced over 150 instructional drawings that bring detailed processes to life.

Within a few days of its release, the toolkit was being downloaded all over the world and receiving very positive feedback. One correspondent from Tanzania said: “Your toolkit is very useful, I didn’t know briquettes are made in such a simple manner. I will try to make my own briquettes. I will find an organization to work with, the matter is to get connected. I plan to share this toolkit with other people.”

Another from France highlighted the value of the toolkit to development practitioners in other fields: “I read your report for CIWM and WasteAid UK for community waste management. Very interesting! Thank you! This type of documentation isn’t as easily available as is it for water or agriculture.”

Who is using the WasteAid toolkit?

  • Published on 18 October 2017
  • 153,663 unique visitors from 218 distinct countries, and 29,917 downloads.
  • More people are accessing the toolkit from smartphones (47%) than from desktop computers (43%).
  • The most visits from target countries have come from: India, Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Indonesia, Malaysia and Ghana, Pakistan, Uganda, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Thailand, Ethiopia and Malawi.
  • The cities with the highest numbers of people reading the toolkit are: Lagos (Nigeria), Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai (India), Accra (Ghana), Johannesburg (South Africa), Quezon (Philippines), Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata (India), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Jakarta (Indonesia).
  • In October 2018 WasteAid was awarded an International Solid Waste Association publication prize alongside Ad Lansink, the creator of the waste hierarchy.
  • In October 2019 the toolkit was launched in Spanish, thanks to the hard work of volunteer Diana M. Rodriguez V. in the USA and Change for Children in Canada.
  • The WasteAid video “How to recycle waste plastic into paving tiles” has already been viewed more than 81,700 times.

Not only has the toolkit proven popular and accessible for communities without waste management, but it has also helped WasteAid reach a much larger audience among a broad range of sectors. The global waste crisis will take all of our ingenuity and efforts to solve and there is a lot of work to do.

We are being given financial and technical support from Biffa, our proud partner, with hundreds of staff getting involved in fundraising activities and making a huge difference to our recent UK Aid Match appeal. All together with support from across the sector and beyond, we raised an incredible £168,000 to develop a plastics recycling training centre in the coastal city of Douala in Cameroon.

 

We have exciting plans in store for the development of the toolkit, to make the guidance even more accessible for people who want to make a positive impact in their communities.

Along with all the volunteers who have given their time generously, the donors and sponsors who are contributing towards projects and equipment, the technical specialists offering their expertise, the partner organisations in the UK and the incredible teams making waste workin their own communities, the CIWM-funded toolkit is growing in impact and value every day.

To end on some feedback from Nigeria: “With the aid of the WasteAid toolkit and videos we have successfully trained 37 women on effective waste management. We are coming to your neighbourhood. “Waste is Gold”.”

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