ISWA Young Professional of the Month

Each month we profile a different member of the ISWA Young Professionals so that you get to know the the ever expanding group, their different working and academic backgrounds and thoughts on the current waste situation.

February 2019: Imanol Zabaleta, Spain/Switzerland

Motivated, reflective and critical researcher; passionate culture lover, Imanol has an insatiable curiosity for an endless list of fields. However, since life is all about making choices, he decided to devote his professional life to the field of Waste Management. Originally from the Spanish part of the Basque Country, he has a Degree on Agricultural engineering and a Master Degree on Environmental Technology from Wageningen Universtiy (Netherlands). After his studies, he embarked on an international and exciting professional journey at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology; Eawag, where he has been working since 2013.


Can you tell us about your research area?


Solid Waste Management could not be a hotter topic nowadays, particularly in low and middle income settings of the world, and this is exactly my field of research. I work on municipal solid waste management in low and middle income settings. In the last decade, our team has particularly focused on organic waste treatment technologies, such as Black Soldier Fly processing, carbonization (slow pyrolysis), anaerobic digestion, composting, etc. Last year, we also took up the incredibly challenging problematic around marine litter. Together with GIZ and University of Leeds, we are developing and assessment tool to estimate the plastic-pollution contribution of cities into the ocean. We are also involved in the operationalization of one of the few SDG indicators pertaining to solid waste management systems (SDG 11.6.1), for which we are collaborating with several international institutions (UN-Habitat, Wasteaware, JICA, GIZ, UoL, etc.).

We believe on the power of making knowledge accessible at no charge. That’s why 2 years ago we decided to make a massive open online course (MOOC) on the field of SWM in developing countries, which is available at at no charge. We already had over 50’000 participants. All those people have seen our faces on the screen! Isn’t that scary? :)


Please tell us about your research institute


Eawag is the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology is a water research institute and an internationally networked institution. Eawag has three major focus areas: 1) Water for human welfare, 2) Water for ecosystem function and 3) Strategies for trade-offs and competing demands.

It employs around 700 people and is divided into 12 research departments. I work at the department called Sandec (Water, Sanitation and Solid Waste for Development), which intends to improve water supply, wastewater management and solid waste management in low and middle income settings. Christian Zurbrügg and Adeline Mertenat work together with me at the Solid Waste Group.


Where can we read the works you have published over the years? Could you provide us the links?


All the knowledge and publications produced by our group are available on our website for free.

For those interested, I invite you to navigate through the website of our working group. All our publications can be found there. I would also like to share the link of our online course.


What advice would you give to young researchers trying to figure out their research interest?


Take it easy. Relax. Live will bring you something if you keep an active attitude. Never judge a research field from the very first impression. The core of it might be quite different from what it initially looks like. Give it a try to what life brings you, and keep always in mind a direction marked by your own interests. Assess how your career and these interest match over the course of the years, and adjust it whenever required and/or possible.


How did ISWA and YPG help you in your career?


When I started on the field of Solid Waste Management I thought I would only encounter middle age business people working on big consultancy firms and some university professors. Getting to know the YPG was kind of finding where I belong. It provided me a great network of motivated same-age mates. This network represents a source of knowledge, exchange, inspiration, support and after a few conferences, of friendship!


What are your future plans?


At the moment I am very excited with the Marine litter project we are working on. I would love to see this tool come true and to have it available online for any municipality to test how much plastic their city is leaking into the ocean.

Next, I am very keen to follow up on the waste SDG-s. I would love to help cities apply them, so that gradually we create a comparable, reliable and updated worldwide waste database. This would facilitate proper decision making on the fields of resource extraction, markets for secondary raw materials, prevention strategies, etc. That brings me to my next short term plan: acquire new skill sets on the field of data science.

Of course, I also have non-work related projects. I am currently involved in the preparation of a 1-month-long expedition for 120 teenagers. All in all, we will walk 500 km across the Basque Country in July 2019. During the month, we are preparing an intense cultural agenda with workshops, talks, activities, etc. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the Basque language, still a minority language,  among the local youth.

And finally, I always try to keep myself surrounded by people who dance, play music and sing! And join them whenever possible. It keeps the spirit active and the brain a bit less stiff!


What do you expect from the coming ISWA conference in Bilbao?


I am very much willing to have an active role on assisting and representing the YP’s in Bilbao. I also hope to be able to present at least one presentation. Next, I think it will be a great opportunity to discover and network with other Basque professionals working on my same field. And finally, I am looking forward to show the YP’s around, make them try some of our local delicacies and show them a bit of our culture!

January 2019: Wisvesh Bangalore Subramanian, India

Wisvesh is from Bengaluru, India and holds a graduate degree in Bachelor of Engineering (Biotechnology). He is a full-time IT Consultant by profession, and part-time Solid Waste Management activist-turned-entrepreneur by passion. He works with Infosys Limited as an IT consultant for a pharmaceutical client. He is also, Co-founder and CEO of Waste Samaritan (WS) - a Bangalore-based start-up which works in the space of implementing ICT solutions for urban waste towards better data-driven governance, administration and management of men and materials. WS has successfully piloted India's first digitized door-to-door waste collection & segregation monitoring solution. Wisvesh works towards inception of novel ideas, conceptualization of customized solutions for planning and operations of tech-inclusive data-driven municipal Solid Waste Management systems. Apart from being a member of ISWA YPG Global and Indian Chapters, he is also currently an internal member of Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) and Bangalore Eco-Team (BeT). He has volunteered for initiatives such as community composting promotion and training of trainer’s sessions with the local municipality. Wisvesh loves cycling, trekking and comedy!

  When and why did you decide to work with waste?


My family shifted our residence in the year 2011 and we had a lot of clutter accumulated over the years. De-cluttering was a humongous challenge I faced due the plethora of tiny things hoarded at home. It got me thinking about the end-life of articles/products and hence began my journey in waste management. I also happened to meet my green mentor Mr. Akshay Yadav around the same time who guided me to start source segregation practices in my community. I volunteered for waste management initiatives ever since and networked extensively in the domain. However, my biggest breakthrough to startup in SWM was after winning the REimagiNE Waste Hackathon in 2016.


Tell us about the company you work for and your responsibilities there?


Apart from working full-time as an IT professional with Infosys, WS solution’s implementation feasibility study, interaction with stakeholders (waste collectors, citizens, NGOs and municipal officials), DPR & proposal drafting, technology conceptualization, database curation, project execution & management, marketing and budgeting are the business as usual tasks that I handle as CEO of Waste Samaritan.


  How long have you been the part of ISWA YPG? How has the ISWA YPG helped     you so far?


I attended the launch of the Indian Chapter of ISWA YPG that happened in Mumbai in October 2016. Ever since, there has never been a moment that I haven’t enjoyed/benefited being a part of this elite group young professionals some of whom I look up to as my role models. It has been enriching in terms of the learnings and networking. The access to high-impact publications and knowledge-sharing artefacts is highly beneficial. I’m also grateful to the YPG for having chosen me for presenting our work with WS at the ISWA World Congress 2018!


Tell us about your impressions from the ISWA conference in Kuala Lumpur?


Mind-blowing! The ISWA World Congress is a huge platform for brilliant networking, exchange of ideas on working waste management models and solutions from across the world. The kind of visibility that one has when one present’s his/her work in SWM is unlike anywhere else! It helps project and scale localized solutions to global problems. Apart from all the top-notch presentations, the fun, frolic and traditional extravaganza essentially promotes a harmonious outlook in life and cross-learning across cultures!

  What are your future plans?


I plan to move into the waste management / sustainability sector full-time. I am working towards receiving funding for Waste Samaritan for scaling-up and taking it forward towards a self-sustained organization in the coming years. I love data analytics & visualizations and am open to network and consult with anyone requiring insightful interpretations out of data accrued in waste management. I am mesmerized by and look up to the D-Waste Atlas – thanks to Mr. Antonis Mavropoulos for inspiring me! J

December 2018: Letícia dos Muchangos, Mozambique/Japan

Letícia dos Muchangos is from Mozambique She is currently a postdoctoral researcher based in Japan. Her research interest is on Municipal Solid Waste Management, with a particular focus on low and middle-income economies. She was first trained as a civil engineer in Mozambique, then specialized in environmental engineering in P.R. China and Japan. Her entry point to the waste field was through the least preferred option within the well-known waste hierarchy – disposal by landfilling, specifically the problematic open dumping, which is still a prevalent waste final disposal method in many countries. From there she has been researching the integration of the several elements that compose the management process of solid waste, to ensure effective and sustainable waste management systems.


1.      Can you tell us about your research area?


My research is on municipal solid waste management systems, and the adoption of the integrated sustainable waste management approach in low-income economies. My current work is focused on the role of gender in education programs for waste management (waste education). Specifically, I look at how the consideration of gender aspects can support swift, effective attainment of the objectives of waste education programs.


2.      Please tell us about your research institute


My research institute is part of the 13 institutions and programmes that make up the United Nations University (UNU). UNU is headquartered in Japan, and it offers advanced degrees, as well as, serves as a global think-tank with collaborative research and education, aiming at contributing to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations. The institute I am affiliated with, it’s called the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), also based in Japan, and its emphasis is on research and capacity development focused on sustainability, precisely, in three thematic areas: sustainable societies, natural capital and biodiversity, and global change and resilience.


3.      Where can we read the works you have published over the years? Could you provide us with the links?


My works can be found in a diverse range of publications. My first publication reflected the results of my master’s thesis work on the comparison between the solid waste management system in Maputo City (Mozambique) and Chongqing City (P.R. China) -

After that, I wrote on the application of the integrated sustainable waste management approach  in Maputo City, looking at the three dimensions of such approach, the stakeholders -; the physical elements -; and, the enabling aspects -,

More recently, I presented the results of a systematic literature review on the state-of-art of education for sustainable consumption and waste education research 

In addition, I co-authored policy briefs published by my research institute, on topics related to the sustainable development agenda &


4.     What advice would you give to young researchers trying to figure out their research interest?


As much as you can, select a research topic that you care about.

Understand that there isn’t only one way of doing research and approach a problem. You can make use of knowledge from different research fields.

Also, you don’t need to address the whole research issue at once and by yourself, reach out to your seniors and peers, and do some homework, because most probably, there is a community of people working on the same topic, which you can both learn from and add to the discussion.


5.       How did ISWA and YPG help you in your career?

I joined YPG recently, and most of the benefits so far relate to the ability to connect with young and motivated individuals and to undertake exciting projects related to waste management. We come from and are based in different locations. However we share similar aspirations and challenges, and our interactions have been a great motivator and peer-learning platform for my research and practice.


6.     What are your future plans?


I would like to continue doing research and possibly combine that with research application on the ground.  I am quite interested in “going back” and explore my entrance point in the waste management field, which is a sustainable waste final disposal and the closure of open dumps. Since then, the situation on the major open dump in Mozambique have worsened, and I am eager to give an impactful contribution towards the closure process of this and the other dumpsites worldwide. That is why I am very excited and ready to take part in the YPG 2019 Flagship Project: Closing Dumpsites – We Care!

November 2018: Ljupka Arsova, Macedonia/USA

Ljupka Arsova, was born in Shtip, Republic of Macedonia. She has been passionate about sustainable development and environmental issues since her high school days. Ljupka holds a Young Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development from Lund University, Sweden; BS and MS in Ecology and Environmental Protection from the University of Belgrade, and MS in Earth and Environmental Engineering as a fellowship recipient of the Earth Engineering Center of Columbia University, New York, USA. She currently resides in Washington, DC, USA, where she works as a Senior Environmental Engineer for low carbon solid waste management solutions at an environmental company Eastern Research Group. Ljupka brings an expertise in advanced technologies for renewable energy from waste and working experience from numerous projects around the world. Ljupka has been an active ISWA and SWANA member, contributing as part of the planning committee for the ISWA 2017 World Congress in Baltimore, USA. She is also passionate about women empowerment and promoting STEM education for girls, and in her free time is a barre teacher and active member of the DMV steering committee of United Macedonian Diaspora. Ljupka was listed in the 2014 Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 under 40 list as a role model and a rising stars in her field of expertise.


When and why did you decide to work with waste?


 I was 18… At 17 I received my first MS degree in Sustainable Development from Lund University and one of the many graduation presents we received were pens made of recycled paper. That idea that you can make useful things out of waste stuck with me and I was curious about that to the point that I made career out of it.


Tell us about Eastern Research Group, the company you work for?


I’ve been in this company for 9 months now. We are US based company working in all fields environment related. ERG is a big government contractor and we work with federal, state and local governments as well as private companies in the US and abroad.


Tell us about your responsibilities at Eastern Research Group?


 My title is Sr. Environmental Engineer and my responsibilities include project management, project development as a subject matter expert as well as marketing and business development.


How long have you been the part of ISWA YPG? How has the ISWA YPG helped you so far?


I’ve been involved for couple of years and it has been helpful in meeting and connecting with young professionals from all over the world.


What are your future plans?


 I’m still curious about how to use waste as resource and will definitely stay in this business. As for my ISWA YPG as a co-chair of the career development working group I hope to help my colleagues and learn from them as well.

October 2018: Pierre-Georges Verdieu, Haiti

Pierre-Georges Verdieu is a PhD student at the University of the French West Indies in Guadeloupe, France. Physicist, Founder and president of the GJEESE’s organization, PhD student representative at LARGE (Research Laboratory in Geosciences and Energies) of the University of the French West Indies. Pierre is also leading ISWA YPG campaign #WhatHappensToMyWaste in Haiti.


Can you tell us about your research area?


I am working on waste recycling and treatment of waste and estimation of its impact on the environment, groundwater and human health. 


Please tell us about your research institute


University of the French West Indies is a multidisciplinary University with several specializations such as: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Economics, Law, Medicine, Materials Engineering, Energy Engineering ect. The University has several laboratories, one of them is LARGE laboratory (Laboratory Research in Geosciences and Energies). The LARGE Laboratory focuses on:

a)    Environmental risks in tropical areas

b)    Energy

I was employed as a research engineer at the LARGE laboratory during the second year of my PhD. I am currently the doctoral student representative in the laboratory.


Where can we read the works you have published over the years? Could you provide us the links?





What advice would you give to young researchers trying to figure out their research interest?


Research is the vector that directs the world. Waste management is a very innovative field, I advise young researchers to direct their research towards an innovative solution of waste management, in order to give the environment a chance to make its way.


Young researchers, do the networking, ask people about opportunities. Do not limit yourself to open positions; if you know or find out about faculty members or laboratories that do research that interests you, contact them and ask if they have positions or need a research assistant. Even if these faculty or labs who do not currently have openings may open them in the future, and they can let you know if there are. 


How did ISWA and YPG help you in your career?


At the beginning of my doctoral degree, despite of my desire to move forward with the work, I had trouble preparing my bibliography, because in Haiti very few people are interested in working in this sector. One day I saw a call for a SWIS-ISWA winter school. I applied, they have kept my application since then. Thanks to SWIS-ISWA, I managed to publish my first publication. My research started to make sense. Thanks to ISWA, I am among people who address all aspects of waste. In addition to ISWA, there are young professionals of ISWA, this group is a vector of encouragement and motivation for young people. Exchanges with young professionals helped me a lot to open my field of research and allowed me to specify my career.


Tell us more about the campaign #WhatHappensToMyWaste in Haiti


#WhatHappensToMyWaste campaign was very successful in Haiti. It was the best way for people to hear about ISWA in Haiti. The Haitians were really curious to know what is happening with their waste. To carry out this campaign we have contacted young entrepreneurs in the field of waste management and youth outside this sector.

The group (GJEESE) I chair, was the leader of the campaign, we developed partnerships with several associations and organizations, we also contacted public officials, public institutions which manage this area. With great enthusiasm, people began to question the public about the future of waste after collection, and the amount of waste that has not been collected, what will happen to it, is there a second life or not?

We had a great success. Haiti is positioned as the most active country in the campaign, thanks to truly motivated and dedicated people. For the other phase of the campaign in schools, we targeted several schools, at the end only three were selected for the campaign. We have defined three axes for the campaign:

a) Training on waste management

b) How to sort and why?

c) Collection and treatment of waste

Theoretical and practical phases have been put in place by our trainers. Thanks to this campaign we are placed in second position to benefit the 2nd prize of ISWA YPG Education Award - Schools!


What are your future plans?


My vision is to participate in action and decision, because I have a plan to put in Haiti a waste recycling company for the Caribbean island, specifically plastic waste. After organic waste in Haiti, plastic waste is ranked second at a rate of about 15%. Taking into account the amount of plastic waste in the Caribbean Sea, and the cost of exporting plastics from the Caribbean to Europe, a plastic processing center or company in Haiti would be a step further not just only  for Haiti, but for all the Caribbean islands.

September 2018: Matthew Allan, Australia

Matt Allan is a waste and resource management specialist with more than 6 years’ professional services experience. He has a background in organisational psychology and is passionate about finding ways to better manage resources from a finance, environment and human behaviour perspective. Matt is also leading ISWA YPG campaign #WhatHappensToMyWaste in Australia.


When and why did you decide to work with waste?


In 2011 I was living in Austria and noticed the different waste systems they have at home. They separated out all materials; metals, plastics, glass by colour etc, and it started to get me thinking about waste at home and how it is managed and recycled. I had a friend in Australia who worked at Rawtec in waste management and when I returned home I asked her about what she did, and I took even more interest. I also thought there may be opportunities to utilise my skillset and reduce waste/ increase recycling through behaviour change strategies. I arranged a catch up with her boss and about a year or two later a job opportunity came up at Rawtec which I was successful in winning.

 Tell us about Rawtec Waste Management, the company you work for?


Rawtec is an independent waste, recycling and resource management consultancy. We assist numerous organisations including local government, the waste industry and other businesses to better manage waste. For example, we may help write a waste-related strategy or plan, conduct cost-benefit analyses on building and operating waste infrastructure, write fact sheets or guides, conduct waste audits and assessments that identify opportunities to reduce waste and increase recycling, and so on.


Tell us about your responsibilities at Rawtec?


As a Senior Consultant at Rawtec I am responsible for working with clients on various projects from inception to completion. This includes writing a proposal on what Rawtec will do and for what cost, and if we are engaged by the client I will then meet with them to clarify what they are seeking to achieve through the project and what Rawtec can do to help. My tasks may then include speaking with other businesses to find out more information, conducting research, reviewing documents etcetera, and then collating this information and analysing the data. Once this is complete the ‘product’ will generally be a report which summarises the data collated and findings. The report may also make recommendations, depending on what the project is.

How long have you been the part of ISWA YPG? How has the ISWA YPG helped you so far?


 I have been part of the ISWA YPG since early to mid 2017 I believe. The YPG has helped expose me to global waste issues and opportunities, and some great connections. I enjoyed my first ISWA Congress in Baltimore last year, and am looking forward to Kuala Lumpur this month. These opportunities would not have been possible without the ISWA YPG.


What are your future plans?


My boss has a saying: “You never arrive in waste”. That means there is always something to work on, improve, alter and as society changes, so does waste management. I would like to keep working in the waste space and keep improving systems to better manage and reduce waste. It’s a challenging area but I love it! 

August 2018: Raelyn Rachele Chwee, Malaysia

Raelyn Rachele Chwee is the Senior Executive in the Waste Management Association of Malaysia (WMAM) and holds a Hons. Degree in Chemical Engineering from UCSI University Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Since starting in WMAM in 2014, she has been involved with government and member liaison, executing training programs, workshops, forums and conferences for industry players in the waste industry. She is currently working on projects with local environmental associations to engage the public on the importance of proper waste management in her home country, Malaysia. She is also a key organizing committee member and administrator for the upcoming ISWA World Congress in Kuala Lumpur in 2018. Rachele is passionate about environmental issues and is keen to grow and progress in the environmental and waste industry. With that passion, she has started a YP Group under the association and is working on setting up the ISWA YP Chapter in Malaysia. 

When and why did you decide to work with waste?



Before venturing into my engineering degree, I was already passionate about the environment and waste management. I was active in environmental clubs in highschool right until university. During which I had organised recycling campaigns and awareness programs in campus. So upon graduating, I was offered a few job opportunities in the chemical field but decided that waste management was a better platform for me to grow and understand the situation better.



Tell us about Waste Management Association of Malaysia (WMAM) which hosts the coming ISWA congress? 


The Waste Management Association of Malaysia or WMAM was established on March 2005 by a group of individuals who are passionate about waste management and the environment. WMAM represents professionals and practitioners from many disciplines including environment, engineering, law as well as management and service providers. As a non-profit organisation WMAM works to provide a platform for all stakeholders to contribute their views and expertise on matters relating to waste management. As the host for the ISWA World Congress, it is such a pleasure and honour to be hosting the congress for the very first time in Malaysia. We had to bid for this project twice, which we initially lost when we bid for 2017 but we got it for 2018 after submitting the bid for the second time.

 Tell us about your responsibilities at WMAM?


I currently manage the operations and administrative side of the association which also includes planning out activities, membership management and managing internal & external meetings. I have also been tasked to lead the YPG Committee within the association which has set a stepping stone for me to help develop young professionals in Malaysia especially within industry.

How long have you been the part of ISWA YPG? How has the ISWA YPG helped you so far?



I have only been part of the ISWA YPG for a year (I believe I joined on September 2017) and WMAM has only launched the Malaysian Chapter in January of this year. It has been really helpful especially on the networking sense as well as it provided a great platform to exchange ideas among the young professionals here.


What are your future plans?


 In future, I do hope to grow the ISWA YPG Chapter in Malaysia and to encourage more young people to join the association and our activities. I believe this will help to improve the waste management sector in Malaysia as well as to expose young people to current issues around the world.

July 2018: Rzgar Albewani, Iraq/Germany/Jordan

Rzgar holds master degree in environmental process engineering (M.Sc. WASTE), with focus on solid waste and wastewater from Stuttgart University in Germany. He is now working as an intern with GIZ in the project Decentralized Wastewater Management for Adaptation to Climate Change in Jordan “ACC-project”.


When and why did you decide to work with waste?

I was always passionate about environmental issues in the past and it had encouraged me to take this master program among others I had accepted. Why? Well, I grew up in a region where no sufficient focus goes to waste, basically because of lack of stable situation, where waste litter could have been seen on the street due to the lack of a proper management. I was always wonder “What happens to the waste after the collection?” I found continuation of studying in this field is a crucial path to provide a good livelihood for citizens, protect our planet clean. Of course, it has a strong link to the economic and natural resources as two of my preferable topics.

The decision of studying waste was very unique in the eyes of my friends and family as well, but I found it was one of the great and revolutionary decision I made in the sense of I am now in love with WASTE.


Tell us about your project Green Kurdistan?


After a short time of the beginning of my master in 2015, I initiated Green Kurdistan project with the help of my former course director (Dipl.-Biol. Jessica Hahn-Ebner). The project is a non-profit project focuses on raising awareness of the citizens in the region about the waste issues. It consists now of two groups, the first group of diverse nationalities and scientific backgrounds in Germany who has been holding all activities within Germany and make future plans. The activities within Kurdistan region, Iraq, is implementing by the second team which is a local non-profit organisation. 

This is an honour and proud of what a great network have been created between Germany and Kurdistan region, Iraq. If you allow me, I would like to highlight that GK is unique as both groups are 100% volunteers and all activities going free of charge unless the materials we purchase. The current ongoing topic which is led by Laura Kreitheimer (environmental engineer and volunteer at BORDA-Mexico) and I is making 5,000 textile (fabric) bags by local tailors (with our logo on), place them in the markets and sell them to reduce single-plastic consumption for shopping purposes. This is the result of collecting 1,500 second hand bags in Germany and distribute free of charge in Kurdistan, about three live TV show and street campaign.

Also I want to thank Ministry of Science, Research and Art of Baden-Württemberg for financial support to the project.


Tell us about your internship with GIZ?


As I mentioned before, I am a member of ACC-Project team in Jordan, this project aims to promote robust, easy-to-operate, and sustainable decentralized wastewater treatment technologies. In addition the project implements a close-to-nature treatment system for the sludge of wastewater treatment plant. Further, the reuse of treated wastewater is also included in the activities under the umbrella of ACC-project.

I am involved in the process of developing and approving the design and technical aspects of above projects when the planning process and going to supervise of the construction activities as a construction engineer. In addition, there are other aspects such as evaluation and capacity development.

Last but not least, I am currently exited to join the solid waste department of GIZ in Jordan and get updated about the waste infrastructure and police. Moreover, visiting landfill and sorting facility, and conducting waste analysis are other parts of the daily business.


How long have you been the part of ISWA YPG? How has the ISWA YPG helped you so far?


I have joined YPG in the March 2017. Well, I was always passionate to get knowledge across borders within other countries and ISWA YPG has made that key to open the door towards global network in this regard. Being member at YPG means being passionate and inspired by such an amazing and critical thinker members around the world. In addition, occasional webinar, inviting experts from Academia and industries and initiatives are all keeping you up-to-dated on the future direction of waste field. Lastly, as a national campaign leader of Iraq and it’s Kurdistan of the initiative (#WhatHappensToMyWaste) I was able to help some phone call with municipality and local people to answer and plant that question in their mind!


What are your future plans?


In the personal plan, currently, I am in the planning preparation stage to begin with my PhD about Solid Waste and Mechanical Biological Treatment “MBT” (in Kurdistan region of Iraq) in close future in Germany. I Hope everything will work as it is planned.

And of course, working on waste, wastewater and sewage sludge in the future is my lovely topics.

June: 2018 Nour Kanso, Lebanon

Nour is leading the Waste Around the World initiative of ISWA YPG and is part of the communication working group.


Nour has a master’s degree in environmental technology with special emphasis on waste management from Imperial College London. She is currently working as a WASH Officer with an International NGO where she is trying to reduce mortality and morbidity rates though improved system in access to clean water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene and environmental health in vulnerable communities in Lebanon.


       What is your main motivation to work in waste field?


My motivation comes from my own community. Lebanon has been suffering from a waste dilemma for the past 3 years and still is. I used to see waste being flooded on the streets near my house because the collection rate was low and there were no alternative disposal methods. As such, I felt urged to do something and invest my time in inducing action and awareness.  


       Please tell us about the most exciting waste project you worked on.


I have worked as a coordinator for a waste sorting and composting facility and it has given me so much insight about the waste industry especially in Lebanon where politics is heavily involved. It made me explore many field within the waste sector such as governance, planning, management, processing and so on. Moreover, I was able to enhance my communication and networking skills by conducting several visits to municipalities and understanding their needs. This has given me a perspective about waste management in developing countries and inspired me to research and pursue colleagues in the field who suffer the same fate.


       How has the ISWA YPG helped you so far?


ISWA YPG has been a great asset in my career. Having a global network which I can easily access at anytime is very valuable. Moreover, organizing online and interactive events to learn from experts and professionals in the industry has been quite knowledgeable and critical. Its important to have such platform to collaborate globally and locally on projects and encourage one another to learn and take actions.


       You are leading the WAW (WasteAroundtheWorld) initiative. Tell us more about it


Initially the idea was to highlight in few sentences, including pictures, about the waste management situation in each country around the world. We always wonder and research how the circumstances are in other countries and as such the initiative was born! The aim was to increase knowledge and awareness and encourage participation from inside and outside our group. Moreover, connecting the participant with the ISWA community and the public.


       Could you tell us more the other projects in Lebanon you work on?


I am currently working on a project called “Market-Based WASH in crisis-affected communities in Lebanon”. The project aims to ensure crisis-affected people in communities in Bekaa, Lebanon, will reduce their risk of morbidity and mortality through improved access to clean water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene and environmental health.  The project will tangibly improve WASH-related health and wellbeing among crisis-affected people by developing and promoting collaborative or individual WASH entrepreneurship activities; investing in market-based WASH interventions through private-public partnerships; and collaboratively improving, learning, and developing position papers to expand the scale, scope and replication potential of the intervention in additional communities.

May 2018: Maria Kaczmarzyk, Germany


Maria Kaczmarzyk is leading the local Chapter of ISWA YPG in the North of Germany.


Maria is 28 years old. She studied in her hometown Hamburg at the Technical University in the field of Bioprocess Engineering. Since 2016 she is working as the assistant to CEO of Stadtreinigung Hamburg in Germany.


What is your main motivation to work in waste field?

 As the cleanliness of the city and the disposal of household waste are completely in the hands of the Stadtreinigung Hamburg, our performance is visible in the whole city for every citizen. All our projects support the sense of wellbeing in Hamburg. Moreover, the treatment of waste is necessary and important, because waste exists everywhere and every time and we have to stop littering and landfills. I see it as our duty to act sustainable in dealing with nature and its resources.  I am very proud to be part of the waste management sector, to help the city to be a lovely and attractive place and to promote judicious and sustainable views.

Please tell us about your work at the municipal sanitation department of Hamburg (Germany).

The Stadtreinigung Hamburg is the public waste management authority for the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and, in particular, is legally responsible for the collection and treatment of waste, waste disposal security as well as for the cleanliness of the city, the winter road maintenance and the upkeep of all public lavatories. Within the scope of its corporate strategy and aims, the Stadtreinigung Hamburg is particularly committed to the protection of the climate and our natural resources. My main work is to assist the CEO of Stadtreinigung Hamburg. That includes preparing presentations, writing statements and articles for journals and press, participation in meetings and substantially organization of events like excursions or conferences. Besides I am the supervisor of the lectures given by the CEO of Stadtreinigung Hamburg at the Technical University in Hamburg. All this gives me the opportunity for a holistic view of the whole company.

How long have you been the part of ISWA YPG? How has the ISWA YPG helped you so far?

I have been part of the ISWA YPG since August 2017. So far, I have extended my social network and learned how waste management is organized and performed in other countries and cities. Additional to that, I met other young professionals of the waste sector in Hamburg and we are exchanging on a regular basis.

 You are leading the Local chapter of ISWA YPG in Northern Germany. Tell us more about the activities of the group.

Since December 2017 we met four times already. In December we started to reorganize the group again after a longer break and discussed relevant topics and further meetings. In January we were hosted by FAUN (Kirchhoff group) and visited the production site of waste collection trucks in Osterholz-Scharmbeck. In February and March, we visited different waste incineration plants in Hamburg. In our meetings we also spoke about IFAT activities and the organization. Moreover, we talked about the affairs of the international ISWA YPG, especially the flagship project #Whathappenstomywaste?, which a subgroup of us will support. Within the next the months we want to arrange a periodic regulars' table for the additional opportunity of networking, too. We hope that our group will continue to grow.  

Could you tell us more about the events for the members of ISWA YPG at IFAT 2018?

Our main events are the speed networking “Greenhorn meets Oldtimer” and “Meet the ISWA YPG”. The speed networking is on Tuesday May 15th, 3-5 PM in hall B4 on the “Experience Area Future”. The speed networking gives the chance of networking with experts of the waste and science sector in smaller groups. We have the confirmations of the oldtimers already and we invite every student and young professional to join this event. For those who want to join, please come to the event area 15-30 minutes earlier. 

On Wednesday May 16th Andrea Winterstetter and me will present the ISWA Young Professionals Group and the ISWA YPG Northern Germany at 10:30 AM in hall A5, booth 239/338.

April 2018: Tatyana Omelyanenko, Ukraine

Tatyana Omelyanenko is leading the local Chapter of ISWA YPG in Ukraine.

Tatyana works at the Institute of Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. She is also the active member of Online Discussion Group of ISWA YP.


Can you tell us about your research area?

My PhD project at Public Institution” Institute of Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine” has been related with organizational and economic mechanism of waste management in Ukraine.

Within my research the effectiveness of organizational and economic mechanism of waste management has been evaluated with the developed analytical approaches. Based on the assessment results, the key directions of improvement of waste management organizational and economic mechanism and the provision of financial sustainability in this field have been identified. In particular, main methodological approaches to reforming of environmental tax on waste disposal has been defined, based on which new model rates of waste disposal tax have been calculated. The suitability of establishment of the Waste Management Fund as autonomic financing of waste management has been shown and the theoretical and methodological basis of its functioning has been developed.

The next step after PhD was research and expert work on approximation the Ukrainian legislation to the EU legislation on waste management including cost assessment of this process. This has been combined with work at the EU project” Complementary Support to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine for the Sector Budget Support Implementation”

Now I’m looking for the possibility to continue my research and concentrate more on circular economy issues and I’m only at start of this road


Please tell us about your research institute


Since 2010 I worked at Public Institution” Institute of Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine” (hereinafter referred to as PI IEESD of NAS of Ukraine) within the department of environmental safety as a research assistant. I’m very thankful for my research scientific adviser (mentor) Volodymyr Mishchenko, professor, doctor of economics who supported me during whole period of my work at Institute. I was happy that I worked at institute with an inspired team of and that I had a possibility to improve my skills and knowledge. Range or research issues of our Institute is wider and include water management, environmental safety, land use and sustainable development issues. Institute is always open for the cooperation


Where can we read the works you have published over the years? Could you provide us the links?


Some of my publications you can find at our Institute Journal

Some are available at:

-   (Institutional development of waste management in Ukraine: towards European Integration / V. Mishchenko, Y.Makovetska, T. Omelianenko . - K.: PI "Institute of Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine", 2013. – 219 p.)

- (Mishchenko V., Omelyanenko T. Financial strategy of waste management in Ukraine /International Journal “Sustainable development”. –<cite> 2014. – Vol.19 (July). -P</cite>.56-63)

Friendly speaking I have a task after this interview to publish the list of all my publications with references at one place ))


What advice would you give to young researchers trying to figure out their research interest?


Choosing a topic for your research work and working on it, do not forget about new information on issues that seems are not directly related to your research issue.

Such information helps to look at problems from other side and get new fresh ideas. Concentrate not only on applied aspects and literature, but also expand the circle of your communication at thematic conferences, get acquainted with experts. This will give more opportunities for you.

I completely agree with Andrea - the chosen topic should be interesting for you (as, indeed, any business or work, one is engaged). And of course rely on yourself. A good mentor is your support for discussing of ideas and results.


How did ISWA and YPG help you in your career?


I’m being an ISWA member from 2013 and from 2014 a part of ISWA YPG. During whole this period I actively used all possibilities for my development:

-          I took part at Mentorship & career Development ISWA YPG program in 2014.  My mentor was Bettina Kamuk who gave me helpful advices on career issues and consultations on WtE issues.

-          It was very useful to communicate with different people who are involved at waste management in different countries

-          Here I had my first experience of the presentation at ISWA World Congress 2016 (Serbia)

-          I used possibilities study and visit State of art  waste treatment facilities at study tours (WtE, 2016 and Recycling, 2017) which were organized perfect organized by Geirgina Nitzshe and our Tutors  (Franz Neubacher, 2016 and Maarten Goorhuis, 2017)

All mentioned helped me improve my skills and develop my career and I really happy to be with ISWA.


Could you tell us more about the activities of the local chapter of ISWA YPG in Ukraine?


The Ukrainian YPG has been created in April, 2017.  Currently our YPG includes 14 active members who work at waste management sector in Ukraine or study at Universities. All of them are very inspired people on waste issues.  Aim of our YPG is to form a team of highly qualified specialists on waste management who improves their skills, exchanges of experience and disseminate lessons learned to the workplace and public, implement joint projects on waste management and promotes the implementation of international initiatives of ISWA.

 During 2017 year we organized panel discussion “WtE in Ukraine” at the framework of cooperation with organisators of the International Exhibition of equipment and technologies for waste collection and recycling “Waste Management – 2017” and we are working on the organisation of the next one event/workshop at the framework of “Waste Management - 2018”.

At November, 2017 we organized workshop “MSW management technologies and it place at waste hierarchy” involved our national experts as speakers.

We organise meetings to do all our knowledge more available for the wide range of people involved at waste management. In 2018  we started online discussions  and try keep it on every 1-2 months to attract more people to YPG and share our knowledge.

You can always come to our facebook page ( to new more about our activities as well as video from our workshops

Now we are a part of ISWA YPG flagship project #Whathappenstomywaste? in our country

We are working on straightening of our Ukrainian YPG capacity now and looking for cooperation with experts, companies associations.

ISWA YPG have no National Member but we have an active support of some our Ukrainian Associations and companies and I think that YPG can be a really start for the future Ukrainian National ISWA membership

Sometimes local YPG takes much time but at the same time I understand that we need develop a network of young waste management experts in Ukraine and I understand that it needs work on the building of our capacity.  Our local team is reliable people who always help to implement "good waste ideas".


What are your future plans?


I’m planning continue my cooperation with ISWA and ISWA YPG, especially develop our local ISWA YPG, conduct post doctorate research on circular economy and of course develop my skills and continue work as expert at waste management projects not only within Ukraine.

February 2018: Nina Tsydenova, Russia/Germany/Mexico

Nina Tsydenova is currently leading the Working Group of ISWA YPG Online Discussion Meetings.


Nina is currently doing the PhD at University of Oldenburg in Germany. In her research she focuses on comparison of different municipal solid waste treatment scenarios for developing countries, especially focusing on Mexico. She has several years of experience in a private sector with project development addressing anaerobic treatment of organic waste. Within the ISWA YPG she is leading the working group Online Discussion Meetings and involved in the Communication group. Also, she stands behind the initiative YP of the month.


What is your main motivation to work in waste field?

To be honest, it was not me who has chosen to work in the waste field, it was the field who found me. My interest to waste management developed from my master thesis, where I was investigating the feasibility of financing waste treatment projects through Clean Development Mechanism. I got fascinated by the diversity of the field. The branch seems to be so narrow, where everyone knows everyone. But at the same time, it is very diversified, it involves social, economic and technical issues.


Please tell us about the most exciting project you worked with ISWA YPG.

When I first joined the ISWA YPs, I learnt the most energetic and interesting personalities, I have ever met in my life. I wanted to learn more about the personal stories of each member of the group. That is how I came up with the idea of YP of the month. This project still excites me and want to continue. I am looking forward to your stories😊     

How has the ISWA YPG helped you so far?

The main advantage for me is the opportunity to stay connected and work with people from the same field. In my university I am not involved in any research project and therefore, do not have the team. But I found my team in YP Group.      

You are leading the Online Discussion Meetings group. Tell us more about it

The goal of the Online Discussion Meetings is to exchange experiences and ideas on general issues related to waste management. The experts, including members of the ISWA working groups, ISWA board and ISWA YPG members present various aspects of a specific topic, which is afterwards discussed amongst the invited participants including students, researchers, young professionals and small entrepreneurs from different countries. This is also the chance for YPs who spread around the world to meet regularly even online, learn new members of the group and start the collaboration. By the way, I am looking for the Co-leader of the working group. If it sounds interesting for you, you have innovative ideas and want to work with me, please contact me

January 2018: Dr. Andrea Winterstetter, Germany/Belgium


Andrea Winterstetter is a founding member and current Chair of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) Young Professional Group (YPG).


She holds a Bachelor’s degree in “International Business” from the University of Passau (Germany) and a Master’s degree in “Environmental Technology and International Affairs” from the Technical University of Vienna (TU Wien) and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna (Austria). In 2016, she completed her PhD project at the Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste Management at TU Wien, Austria. Currently, she is working as a Post-Doctoral researcher at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) in Belgium.


Can you tell us about your area of research?

An increasing global demand for raw materials has resulted in an accumulation of resources in buildings, infrastructure and consumable stocks. At the same time, concerns over future commodity supply are increasing, while huge amounts of wastes pose a serious burden for our societies. 

Within my PhD project at TU Wien I developed a framework for the evaluation and classification of anthropogenic resources to systematically integrate recycled resources into the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC). It allows for comparing the resource potentials of various recycling and urban mining activities, considering environmental, economic, legal and technical aspects, amongst others.

This newly created decision-making tool was first applied to different landfill mining projects, and then also to computer and permanent magnet recycling projects.  In my current postdoc position VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research) in Belgium I continue to refine this methodology and to apply it to internal VITO research projects, such as Chromium recovery from stainless steel slags.


After four years of preparation, the “Specifications for the application of UNFC for Resources to Anthropogenic Resources” will be officially released at the 9th session of the Expert Group on Resource Classification at the UN Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva this year. Quite exciting to be part of this process! 



Please tell us about your institute and how it has helped you with your work


For almost 1 year I have been working now with VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research) with the Sustainable Materials Management department in the team ADVANCE (Assessment and Development of Value Chains for a Circular Economy). The working and research conditions here are great. My colleagues are extremely nice and helpful, while hierarchies are flat. Coming from a waste / end-of life perspective it was quite enlightening to see people here working more on “upstream” topics, such as circular business models.



Where can we read about all the wonderful work you have published over the years? 


How has the ISWA and the YPG helped you in your career?

After I finished my Phd in Vienna I was looking for a job. Together with my former ISWA mentor Prof. Siechau, CEO of Stadtreinigung Hamburg, we organized a career event at the recycling trade fair IFAT Munich, where I was offered my current job at VITO.


In general, I learnt a lot from working and communicating with a highly diverse team of people. For my current job it is often extremely useful to be part of this enormous network of waste & resource management professionals all around the globe. Last November, for instance, I had the opportunity to participate in a Young Professionals Speech Competition on waste related research projects organized by the ISWA national member China Association of Urban Environmental Sanitation, where we had a great exchange with the Chinese students and young professionals.



What advice would you give to young researchers trying to figure out their research interest?


My advice: If you are planning on starting a PhD : Go only for a topic that you are really interested in and ideally even passionate about. After all you will spend at least 3 years with it!


Also try to go for a mentor / supervisor, who is known for being supportive and constructive, which I feel is particularly important during the first PhD year to get on the right track. I was lucky to have Prof. Fellner as a PhD supervisor and a couple of very competent people at TU Wien to discuss with.  



What are your plans as the new Chair of ISWA YPG?


Last year in my role as YPG vice chair and together with former chair Kat Heinrich and our awesome team we identified and mapped the World’s biggest waste challenges. Our 1st ISWA YPG report “The World’s Biggest Waste Challenges at a Glance” is now available on our website

Based on the findings of the 2017 World Waste Map we will launch our Flagship Project 2018 #Whathappenstomywaste? in Spring this year. We invite each and everyone of you to actively participate in this global campaign that aims at raising awareness on the final destination of waste in different corners of the world.


Further, we will organize our 1st ISWA YPG Online Conference on the effects of improper waste management in South East Asia in preparation of the ISWA World Congress 2018 in Kuala Lumpur.


Also we will be working closely with the newly created ISWA YPG Malaysia to help shape this year’s ISWA World Congress. We will launch another round of the Mentorship Program, continue organizing Online Discussions and Career Talks and support the establishment of local YP groups in new countries. Moreover, we will intensify our activities in communication, education and research cooperation.


 I look forward to another year of working together with this diverse group of talented and dedicated people from all around the globe. Join us on our journey, and let’s make the world a better place!  



November 2017: Paul Stegmann, Germany


Paul joined ISWA YPG in early 2016 and is since September 2016 responsible for the group Mentorship & career Development. He was working as Project Coordinator at the ISWA General Secretariat but is now doing a PhD at Utrecht University.


       When did you decide to work with waste?


I was thinking about making up a nice story of a revelation to work with waste, because the truth is rather boring: I am interested in all kind of environmental topics and my specific interest in waste and resource management rather grew gradually during my Master in Sustainable Development. The key decision to work in the field I eventually took during my work at GIZ where I organized a waste management course for participants from Ghana and Kenya which involved many exciting site visits.


      Can you tell us about your research area?


I’m now researching in the field of the bio-based economy. I’m focusing on the future role of bio-based chemicals and materials and on how cascading and recycling can improve the Greenhouse Gas balance of the bio-based value chains. Bioeconomy is a very wide and interesting field but the linkages with the recycling sector are still in its infancy. I hope to improve that with my research and would like to bring stakeholders from both sectors together.


     Please tell us about your research institute


I’m working in the Energy & Resources group within the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. The institute is very interdisciplinary with researchers from various backgrounds and countries which makes the work here very exciting.


       Tell us more about your working experience in ISWA?


Working at the ISWA General Secretariat was an amazing experience as it put me right at the pulse of what is happening in the sector. Especially the trips for projects and conferences around the world left a lasting impression. Nothing shows you the urgency of improving waste management better than standing on one of the big dumpsites  and experiencing the challenges in various countries. Of course it  was great for networking as well. But above all I really enjoyed the team spirit of the GS staff and YP members, and the true motivation they have to improve conditions worldwide.

I always enjoyed working with the YP group and learn from their experiences and ideas from all over the world. I am happy that I still can support them, even though I put my focus a bit more on other things since I moved to the Netherlands.


       Could you tell us more about Career development and Mentorship Working group?


I think the group bears a lot of responsibility as professional development is one of the main motivations why young people around the world join the YPG and we have to provide useful tools to support them. The group expanded quickly since the last year. In the beginning the focus was on setting up the second run of the mentorship programme which was a lot of work. Then we set up the career talks which are a great way to get a glimpse into certain career paths. In the future we might also complement it with some webinars dedicated at improving certain skills useful for your career development. In the last meeting a lot of new members joined the group and many new ideas were discussed. Now we have to see which we are able to implement given the limited resources we have.

If you have good ideas on how to improve or create new services of the group and/or are motivated to support us please contact us.


       What are your future plans?


For now I have 4 years of PhD waiting for me. Afterwards? Difficult to say but working in the conjunctions of the bioeconomy and waste management to improve the cooperation along the value chain sounds like something to aim for. Be it as a (self-employed) consultant or in research I still have to find out.

October 2017: Frida Jones, Sweden

Dr Frida Jones works at RISE Research Institute of Sweden and has an MSc in Atmospheric Chemistry and a PhD in combustion Chemistry. Her work is focused around waste, and her expertise is in characterisation of waste fuel for combustion.


Can you tell us about your research area?


I have been working within the field of waste for more than ten years. My PhD is in inorganic chemistry, with the focus on characterisation of solid waste for combustion purposes. Much of my work still relates to Waste to Energy facilities and their challenges, but I have also worked more with waste management in general the last few years. I am currently based in Toronto, Ontario, financed by the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, to learn more about Canadian (and North American) Waste Management. My hopes are to expand my knowledge and be able to see the big picture better, as waste is a global issue rather than a local one.


Please tell us about your research institute


RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) is the largest research institute in Sweden, with about 2200 employees. We offer a wide variety of applied research, development, consultation, SME support, certification, test facilities, and much more in many different areas. I work in the division of Built Environment at the department of Energy and Circular Economy and have been with the company since 2007.


Where can we read the works you have published over the years? Could you provide us the links?


The scientific publications I have are all listed on my LinkedIn-profile ( Other reports and articles are published as project reports, for example, reports published by the Swedish Waste Management Association.


What advice would you give to young researchers trying to figure out their research interest?


I think my best advice would be to network and try to talk to people that are in the area you’re interested in.  Maybe find a mentor to learn from and gather information on your topic of interest. Research requires a natural curiosity, if you feel you have to force it; the area or topic is probably not for you. However, there will for sure be times when you’ll struggle, and in the end, it’s overcoming these time periods that only feels as if they are full of challenges that is the most rewarding!


How did ISWA and YPG help you in your career?


I joined the ISWA YPG in March this year and have since then been involved in the Mentorship Programme, both by having my own mentor, but also by helping out with the programme itself. So far I have enjoyed all the parts of the YPG group that I have been exposed to. I enjoy the way we help each other out via our WhatsApp-chat, I think us working together on the world-wide survey for the Baltimore congress was great, and I really enjoyed meeting the YPGs that had the possibility to join the congress. I believe that just by being in, and working with, the YPG will provide many advantages in the future, as we are the new generation and the international network we are building is amazing.


Could you tell us more about the new initiative of ISWA Women of Waste where you are involved?


I am one of the founding women of the Women of Waste network that is an initiative supported by ISWA. We aim to advocate and put spotlight on women’s work and achievement in the waste sector. The initiative was launched during the congress in Baltimore and it was a great success with more people than chairs and very interesting discussions. My hope for WOW is that I want to e able to be a part of something that is strengthening women in all parts of the waste management sector; the academia, the industry, and in the informal sector. I want us women to empower each other, to support each other, to mentor each other, and to lift each other. 


What are your future plans?


As mentioned before I am currently based in Canada and I hope that I can bring a new perspective, and maybe some new ideas back to Sweden when my project is finalized. I also hope to be able to establish and maintain some good contacts to increase the cooperation between our countries. I am also studying to acquire a certificate of Leaderships Essentials and hope to be able to put my new tools and ideas in to practise. Simultaneously, I am studying and preparing for the PMP exam (certified Project Manager) which I believe will be useful to improve my skills further. I might have worked as a Project Manager for more than ten years but I believe that learning new things and seeing things from different perspectives is developing and fun.   

SEPTEMBER 2017: Ksityn Oldendorf, USA

Kristyn works in the Office of Legislative Affairs for the Department of Public Works in Baltimore City. In the past few years, she worked on projects including the distribution of municipal trash cans throughout the city, the implementation of expanded mechanical street sweeping, the switch to a new water billing system, and more. Her interests also include sustainable materials management, composting, and waste management in developing countries.


The video of the interview can be found here:




August 2017: Kamal Raj, India

YPG of August Kamal Raj leads ISWA YPG Indian Chapter. Biotechnologist by education, Kamal Raj has 6 years of professionally experience in Municipal Waste Management. Currently, he is leading solid waste initiatives at Infosys Ltd. He specializes in organic waste management, decentralized facilities and smart waste management strategy. Here you can learn more about his activities at Infosys Ltd. Kamal also contributes to the development of Reapbenefit social enterprise.

The video of the interview can be found here:


How did you develop passion to Waste Management?


I’ve been passionate about Waste Management for 7 years and I am also professionally involved in the field. India, being among the most populated country in this world lacks the primary sanitation and waste management. This is my main motivation to apply for waste management sector in 2011 after my graduation. I started to work in home composting private company, which encouraged waste segregation and composting. Starting from that time I also focused on my own startup which is called Reapbenefit. We developed 2 products in waste management exclusively for home composting and community composting which enabled several individuals and the communities across the city to practice the sustainable way of garbage disposal. But interestingly what happened, is that I realized that cities’ civic infrastructure could not create the eco system for safe disposal and that triggered the need in me to go forward and understand the technologies, bring international collaborations, work with the local governments and other local bodies to address waste management from innovation perspective, from policy perspective and from systematic change perspective, which I believe is needed for a developing country like India. Waste Management became part of my life. It is my passion and something I believe is a primary right of every citizen of developing country as India.


Why did you decide to lead the local ISWA YP group in India?


India is blessed to have a high proportion of younger population. Also, now India goes through transformation when the civic bodies are failing to provide sufficient waste management. This is the time when the both challenges can benefit each other. ISWA YPG is perfect for that. I was introduced to ISWA YPG last year at IFAT Fair in Munich. I understood it could be a platform where we can make exchanges between young professionals in India and have international exposure for young professionals. Most of ISWA YPG members in India work in non-governmental organization. It increasingly becomes important for us to give them the platform where they can create, exchange, co-create and innovate solutions to the challenges India has to deal with in respect to waste management. And I believe that if today’s youth can be directed to platforms as ISWA YPG, India won’t deal with such waste problems as so far. Therefore, I decided to lead the local group and I have a great team: Vishvas and Aditi. They are fantastic leaders, fantastic friends. I have no better reason to lead ISWA YPG.

July 2017: Jiao Tang, China/Austria

Jiao Tang, China/Austria

Jiao Tang is Head of Technical Cooperation at ISWA. Focus: bring assistance to places in need of sustainable waste management worldwide

A girl with geography: born in China, had lived in Australia, Switzerland and Singapore, settled so far in Vienna. But you can also catch up with her in many parts of the world where she is traveling or implementing projects. Responsible, energetic and keen in bringing people together - all that helped her to shape and lead the ISWA YPG in its initial two years of development.

Motto of the day : "If you do anything you like for at least 10 minutes a day, you will achieve results! It goes especially for learning languages."


The video of the interview can be found here:


Do you remember the moment when you decided to start ISWA Young Professionals Group?


Jiao: Very clearly, it was the year when I joined ISWA in 2013 in the Vienna office. It was also the year when ISWA hosted the World Congress in Vienna. The Vice President of ISWA, Carlos Silva Filho, suggested this idea to the Board. He wanted to see how many young professionals were interested in this idea. So ISWA organized the Young Professionals Meeting at the Congress. I thought it was an excellent idea: “ I am young and I am new to the industry”, so I went there. There were about 20-30 young professionals from all over the world: from Brazil, the Netherlands, Australia, etc.. There were people there who have become the leading force of the Young Professionals Group. We shared our passion and our concerns for the world. And it seemed that there were lots of things in common what we care about. After this funding meeting, we started slowly to get in contact with each other and talk about what we could do. And afterwards I started taking a lead in organizing the activities and getting to know what our members’ interests are. In 2 years, 2014 and 2015, we actually achieved quite a lot: we started Online Thematic Discussion Sessions, started to organize Congress Sessions for the young professionals - starting from 2014 at the Congress in Sao Paulo where we did a very innovative session different from all the other sessions in the past ISWA Congresses. We hosted an art exhibition and three consecutive panels on topics which were not yet so “hot” like communication and education. Later we started the mentorship program, communication channels on social media and website, and slowly as of 2015 we started to develop local YP groups. That is how we started the YPG.


What is the most memorable business trip you had with ISWA?


Jiao: There is one trip which is deep in my memory. I still have all the pictures in my head. It was in 2014 when we (ISWA) decided to try to develop projects to assist cities in developing their sanitation and waste management practices in developing countries. We started by collaborating with partners especially within CACC (Climate and Clean Air Coalition). At that time, the EPA of the US was doing projects in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). I was going there together with the project manager to see how they manage the entire process. Even though I had read a lot about dumpsites and seen pictures and read stories, it was still different from confronting the reality by my own eyes. And because of that it was very impactful, I mean, on the emotional level. I remember the first day when I went to the dumpsite, we arrived at the dumpsite: regardless of the smell, hundreds of people were working there, a lot of whom children without shoes. At the entrance of the dumpsite came a truck unloading waste and within it there was a small dog being dumped as if it was waste. There were a lot of dogs running around with red eyes and you know they are not healthy. There were needles everywhere and then you associate this with the children without shoes - it was just such an overwhelming scene for me. I had to turn around and for a while I could not go in. Then the project manager told me:” Jiao, if you want to work on this kind of projects, you need to overcome these emotional reactions and use it as a tool or a base for your work.” This experience, what I saw and how I reacted emotionally, has been a large part of me in doing what I am doing in waste management. And it is a big reason to continue doing it.


What is your leadership style?


Jiao: Hmm, good question. I am not very consciously developing my leadership style. I can only look back to see what has been achieved and how we achieved it. I think I am more of a person who would like to get bottom-up initiatives heard and achieved. I think there are a lot of ideas within our member base and those are the assets of our group. All the activities we developed in the first years when I was leading the group were based on the interests of our members. For example, our members said it would be great to get connected to the senior members of ISWA. That was how the Mentorship program came about. I initially did not have a very clear plan like “I am going to achieve this by year 1 and achieve this by year 2”, but I incrementally increased and improved the quality of our activities by supporting our members, by helping them to realize their ideas and I think it is an excellent value in our group that we are able to do so. Our young professional members are passionate and energetic and are moving things very quickly. Very often I feel that being a leader means to be there to support our members, to give them confidence and advice, and to help them along the way in realizing their ideas and dreams, as long as they are in alignment with the group’s interests.



March 2017: Qadir Huseynov, Azerbajan

Qadir Huseynov, Azerbajan


Qadir joined the group in the end of 2016 after starting his career in the Joint-Stock Company '"Tamiz Shahar", which is the ISWA member. "Tamiz Shahar" JSC is a state organization providing waste disposal services in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. You can read more here on the current projects of the company. Currently, Qadir is Assistant to the Chairman of the Executive Board of Tamiz Shahar" JCS. Qadir sees "Tamiz Shahar" as a regional leader in waste management technology in the CIS and among neighbouring countries and is working on that now. 

Upon the advice of his colleagues Qadir joined several ISWA working groups including the Young Professionals. Within the YPG Qadir is active in the following divisions: Communication, Education and Regional Development. Last month he has launched the regional group in Azerbaijan, which consists of motivated young professionals. Qadir is always searching for the new opportunities to attract public attention to the waste problem. He  made a presentation for Baku State University students, where he was a visiting lecturer and for Ecology Club of Azerbaijan Architecture and Construction University.  


Qadir has also contributed to the #WAWSeries of ISWA YPG and shared his experience of working in a public waste management company during one of the Online Discussion Meetings. His advice to the new ISWA YPG members: Let's act together, locally and globally. Do not wait for the special occasion, be the first to come up with initiative for your regional group and lead the change! 

February 2017: Kat Heinrich, Australia

Kat Heinrich, Australia

This year starts with the presentation of Kat Heinrich, the Chair of the ISWA Young Professionals. Last week you may have meet her in Europe. She was invited for ISWA Coordination Workshop in Vienna, and presented at the Waste In Progress forum in Girona (Spain).


6 years ago, her passion for the environment led Kat to make the decision to move into waste and resource management consulting. Now she is a Senior Consultant in the company Rawtec (Australia) where her focus lies in waste strategy and planning for cities, government and industry. 


Kat started to develop the know-how in waste and resource management by undertaking waste and recycling improvement reviews and audits for businesses. Since this time she has worked on many key projects for the State such as annual waste reporting, infrastructure planning, and disaster waste management planning. She enhances her expertise and follows her passion for improving waste management in emerging/developing countries through extra learning courses, such as the one from EAWAG. 


Kat’s way to ISWA YPG started in Brazil at the congress in Sao Paolo. She is responsible for Communication for the YPG. Her team player spirit and proactive nature led Kat to become the Vice-Chair in November 2015, and Chair since November 2016.


Kat has an ambitious plan for the time being the Chair. She wants to build stronger relationships and partnerships between the YPG and other groups, such as ISWA Working Groups and SWANA. Moreover, she is working with the leadership team to improve the experience of welcoming new members and create more opportunities for communication and collaboration across our group. The group has already started to work on these goals and is underway for another exciting year!

November 2016: Gijs Langeveld, Netherlands

November has passed so fast that the new edition of YPG of the month was not ready before the 30th. But nevertheless, the series goes on. YPG of November is Gijs Langeveld, successful entrepreneur, the chair of ISWA YPG in 2016, the leader of the Alumni working group and proud father of a sweet daughter.


In this edition of YPG of the month, Gijs shares his experience of being self-employed, and he gives tips for networking and successful presentations.


Benefits of being self-employed in the field of Waste Management, according to Gijs:

  • Having the nicest boss in this world….
  • Having diverse tasks depending on the project.
  • Enjoying the risk and getting maximum out of yourself.
  • Working with diverse aspects: environmental, technical, economic and health issues.
  • Satisfaction from work: Gijs’ profit is simultaneously profitable for the environment.

Networking tips from Gijs:

  • Do internship. Invest time in making connections.
  • Use the network you have, do not hesitate to say what you want and ask.
  • Help your contacts as well. What you give is what you get.


Tips on successful presentations:

  • A good presentation even with improvisation starts with a good preparation.
  • Get your audience involved, for example with asking a question, emotionally commitments.
  • Copy and improve the presentation style of those who are good at it. (Remember, how Ana Loureiro made made us clap at the opening session of ISWA Congress 2016).
  • Your audience will remember 1, max 2 main messages of the whole presentation. So keep it simple.
  • Build in your personal experience in the presentation. For example, telling a story is a great way to keep the audience focused.
  • Put a minimum of text on the slide. Better no words.
  • Prepare your presentation on small cards which you can hold in your hands, where you could look up the key words