Flagship Project 2018 #WhatHappensToMyWaste?

Have you ever wondered where that empty plastic bottle ends up that you throw into a nearby bin?

Maybe this exact bottle will be turned into a new plastic bottle. Or it is burnt somewhere. Or it ends up in a landfill. Or it might for some reason just end up in a river. Or in the ocean. Or, or, or …..

We generally tend to ignore that all our stuff goes somewhere once we decide to get rid of it. And the fate of waste can look very different depending on its disposal location.

As the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) Young Professionals Group (YPG), we are united by our common passion for more sustainable production, consumption and disposal practices. Our mission is to make global connections among people, knowledge and ideas aimed at improving waste and resource management practices.

Based on the findings of the 2017 World Waste Map survey (available here) we designed our annual Flagship Project 2018 #WhatHappensToMyWaste? This project included 1) a global campaign, which aims at raising awareness on the final destination of waste in different parts of the world, 2) the 1st ISWA YPG Online Conference “Waste management in South East Asia: Local Challenges, Global Solutions” and 3) a survey (still on-going) to collect information on waste education initiatives and on waste facilities worldwide. On top, an award has been designed to recognize excellent Waste Education initiatives. 


The key results of this Flagship Project were presented in two special sessions at the ISWA World Congress 2018 in Kuala Lumpur. 


1)    Global Campaign #WhatHappensToMyWaste?

Watch here how it works! 


The goals was to mobilize people across the globe to ask the question #WhatHappensToMyWaste? & raise awareness about

·        where our waste ends up,

·        how to best dispose of specific kind of wastes in a specific region,

·        how to prevent waste generation at source.


How to participate

General public

       Post a question to our dedicated Facebook Group in the form of a video (or a picture with text) asking #WhatHappensToMyWaste?, showing a specific kind of waste in a specific place, e.g. Mat from Adelaide asks: “What happens to my empty beer can?”

       Visit a local waste and recycling facility or expert to find out the answer, and share it.



        Teachers give “waste lessons”

        Post a video / photo with a group of kids asking #WhatHappensToMyWaste? to our Facebook Group, showing a specific kind of waste in a specific place.

        Setting up a school excursion to visit a local waste or recycling facility to find out what happens to their waste!



       Experts from the waste & resources management sector (e.g. from recycling companies, consultants, or in government) can participate by posting replies to the questions where they know the answer.

        Post a link to your educational materials / campaigns to our Facebook Group

        Explain in a short video your company’s outreach / educational strategy.


2) 1st ISWA YPG Online Conference "Waste management in South East Asia: Local Challenges, Global solutions"


The 1st ISWA YPG Online Conference “Waste management in South East Asia: Local Challenges, Global Solutions” was organized in June this year. The idea was to give early stage researchers and young professionals from all around the globe the opportunity to present their research, and to discuss with conference participants on how solutions that have worked in other countries might be copied to tackle waste management challenges in South East Asia. Based on a call for abstracts we have selected 6 presentations given by early career researchers on different topics. And in the end a jury selected 3 winners, who presented their projects at the ISWA World Congress.  


The replay is available here and the conference proceedings are available here.


 3) ISWA YPG #WhatHappensToMyWaste Education Award / Survey


the goal is to collect information on waste education initiatives and also information about waste facilities worldwide. The first of its kind database aims to be a comprehensive collection of interesting concepts and materials on waste and resources related information.


On top, an award has been designed to recognize excellent Waste Education concepts, materials, projects and lessons that help people understand what happens to their waste. It was open for participation for Schools and Recycling Companies, NGOs, other “waste educators”.


Find all related information here!