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Tuesday, 09 October 2018 09:08

'Wonders of Waste' photo competition shows 'rubbish' is a valuable resource

The WasteAid's charity's first ever photography competition encourages people to look at waste through a different lens, and inspire them to see the materials as a valuable resource.

The competition has exceeded hopes and the charity is now selling the 2019 WasteAid calendar featuring the 12 images that show the 'wonders of waste'.

WasteAid believe that In order to change how we deal with waste, we need to change people's minds about its value.

The entries were diverse and the judges had a difficult task picking the winners.

WasteAid Saula Cordova 1st copyAnnouncing the winners, WasteAid's Head of Programmes and Engagement, Zoë Lenkiewicz, said: "The diversity of entries is inspiring – from artisan upcycling and repurposing, to collection, sorting, recycling and preparing materials for industrial reprocessing. The WasteAid competition attracted 60 entries from 17 countries and we hope that people will agree, they do show the wonders of waste in a very honest and positive light."

The three judges - Chinch Gryniewicz, Lilly Lamia and Rachel Wildblood - selected the 12 photos that best captured the wonders of waste.

The overall winners of the 2018 WasteAid photography competition, "The Wonders of Waste" are:

1st place: Metal recycling apprentices, in Makeni, Sierra Leone by Saula Cordova. She says: "I am Saula Cordova, Spanish humanitarian worker and waste lover! I was in Sierra Leone during 2017 working in a waste project and this is one of my favourite photos.

"It is impossible to condense in one snap all these days with recyclers. I chose this photo from the apprentices of a metal recycling workshop from Makeni City. They worked with this sincere smile enjoying the process of transforming the garbage into great kitchens.

This photo shows the wonder of how garbage provides a source of raw material and work for young people, as well as beautiful kitchens for the inhabitants of the city, while garnishing garbage from the streets. Just perfect!"

2nd place: Sorting and weighing scrap metal, in Guangzhou district, China, by Ron Stanley. He says: "This photo was taken some years ago on a visit to China at yards in Guangzhou district.

WasteAid Ron Stanley 2nd copyThe hand sorting of zorba [mixed scrap metal] is done by all women - they sort by sight and weight of each piece of metal - I was impressed. This visit showed me how huge the recycling industry was in China and how the workforce managed with just the bare essentials to do the job."

3rd place: Recycled decorative gifts, in Botswana, by Ian Hargreaves. He says: "The photo is of ornaments, earrings, stationary and bunting made from waste materials. My wife and I collected these objects during holidays and whilst living abroad in Botswana. They remind us of happy times together and the ingenuity of people around the world who can create new, decorative objects from what would have been waste materials.

Waste materials featured include material remnants, drink cans, bottle tops and wood offcuts."

These photos show that when people see waste as a resource, everything has value.

Competition judge Chinch Gryniewicz said: "Waste is an enormous global problem and, as an environmental photographer, I often see landscapes, especially in developing economies, that make me almost despair and wonder whether we are going to cover the whole planet knee-deep in waste. What a strange species we are, soiling our own nest to such a degree.

"It was therefore a great joy and privilege to be asked to be one of the judges on the WasteAid 2018 'Wonders of Waste' photo competition. All WasteAid's projects are commendable and important, but I was particularly heartened by the theme of this competition, encouraging participants (well, all of us, really) to rethink our attitudes to waste and not see it exclusively as a problem, but increasingly also as a potential resource and a source for creative endeavour."

WasteAid Ian Hargreaves 3rd copyThe other winning photos were:

Washing plastic waste flakes in Accra, Ghana, by Sophie van den Berg.

Sorting plastic bottles in West Bengal, India, by Avijit Ghosh.

Fish of Spoons in Abuja, Nigeria, by Onche Ugbabe.

Salvaging wood, in Kolkata, India, by Victoria Manning.

Spot the intruder, in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, by Olmo Forni.

Teapot of flowers, in Venice, Italy, by Juliet Stibbe.

Plastic fishing boat, in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, by Sourav Karmaka.

Bouteille coffee table, in Abuja, Nigeria, by Amina Saleh.

Shelter, safety, a home, in Oradea, Romania, by Lauren Woodward.

WasteAid has produced a limited edition 2019 calendar showing the 12 winners, available to purchase via the website. The A3 WasteAid wall calendars are printed in full colour on high quality 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Each calendar is wire bound at the head and includes thumb slot with hanging hook. Orders can be taken by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All the photos, including the runners up, can be viewed at