Speaker Series #13 – Waste Management in Crisis and Recovery

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Cities on the Frontline #13 – June 4, 2020

Covid-19 has exposed a multitude of vulnerabilities within existing municipal waste management systems. During this session, speakeres reflected on lessons learned from the current crisis and their cities’ response efforts to transition to more sustainable and resilient waste management systems building on local and scalable solutions that can increase economic opportunity and advance the circular economy.

Circular Materials Management in the Midst of Crisis

Around the world, many recycling programs have been suspended due to lack of funding or lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Jenna Jambeck, Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia sees an opportunity to change the way we handle waste now that the pandemic forces us to rethink about our relationship with nature. She showed how data collection can help communities understand where waste and debris come from, and what can be done, to help communities prevent waste from ending up in the nature.

SWaCH – Waste pickers in the times of COVID-19

Lakshmi Narayanan from SWaCH (Pune), emphasized the vulnerable position of waste pickers resulting from the nature of their work in what is otherwise an essential services sector. Through a Public-Private Program, SWaCH has helped organize waste pickers, given them representation and training them to become waste management professionals; an important change in the they are perceived and the way they perceive themselves in society. She called for expanded efforts to formalize the role of waste pickers to support meaningful employment and environmental health.

Watch the full session here:

Speaker Series #13 – Waste Management in Crisis and Recovery