WasteAid’s first ever photography competition has been a great success – and now you can buy the WasteAid calendar featuring the 12 images that show the wonders of waste.

Thank you to everyone who entered the first ever WasteAid photography competition, on the theme “The Wonders of Waste”, and congratulations to all the winners!

The entries were hugely diverse and the judges found it difficult to pick the winners from such high quality and fascinating photos. We really think that this set of 12 winning images capture the wonders of waste, and hope that they inspire people to look at waste materials through a different lens.

Enjoy the slideshow or scroll down for the gallery. All the winning pictures feature in the 2019 WasteAid calendar.

When we launched the competition, WasteAid’s Zoë Lenkiewicz said: “People around the world bring wonderfully creative ideas and ingenuity to their work with waste, and that’s what we’d like to celebrate with the WasteAid photography competition and calendar.”

Announcing the winners, Zoë added: “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 are:

Metal recycling apprentices, by Saula Cordova in Makeni, Sierra Leone

“I am Saula Cordova, Spanish humanitarian worker and waste lover! I was in Sierra Leone during 2017 working in a waste project and here you have one of my favorite photos. It is imposible to condensate 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!”

Sorting and weighing cable, by Ron Stanley in Guangzhou district, China

“I took this photo some years ago on a visit to China at yards in Guangzhou district.

Hand sorting and weighing scrap cable. 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.”

Recycled decorative gifts, by Ian Hargreaves in Botswana

“The photos are 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.”

To fix the waste problem we need to start by changing our perceptions.

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.”

The other winning photos of “The Wonders of Waste” competition

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

“This photo was taken in a small recycling farm at West Bengal, India.  The woman earns $30 a day, which helps her to support family. Recycling of waste not only keeps our environment clean but small businesses like this empower rural women in our country.

Though it looks like waste, using it properly can make someone’s life better.

This was the first line what came to my mind while I was clicking the photo. The environment with plastic patterns and subject in middle gave me all that opportunity to present it in an artistic way.”

Fish of spoons, by Onche Ugbabe in Abujua, Nigeria

“A scaly fish made of spoons and other waste metals welded together, on display at the US embassy in Nigeria’s Abuja International Institute for Creative Development workshop on Upcycling, produced during the workshop.

It is a decorative ornament fish made out of waste spoons and glass.”

Salvaging wood, by Victoria Manning in Kolkata, India

“In a market, a woman bundles up smaller pieces of wood for sale. She is surrounded by other salvaged wood she hopes to make a living from.

I love the messy strata of the wood, the splash of colour in the woman’s sari and her nails.

The image shows family enterprise behind the salvaging and sale of the wood, and the permanency of the reclamation market.”

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

“For my thesis, I had this crazy idea that I had to do field research in Haiti, about the impact of humanitarian aid on waste management sector and recycling specifically. Haiti is a beautiful and heart breaking country, with a HUGE waste management problem, which was exacerbated by the packaging of relief aid, especially water bottles. In my research I visited various recycling companies, some of which existed prior to the earthquake.

Haiti Recycling was one of them, founded with the help of American soda companies. The bottle caps were not always recycled, so some just lay in a corner of the storage area, on the ground, waiting for a better price to come.”

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

“This picture shows two boats lying on the land, one of which is made from various sorts of plastic bottles.

The fishermen of Andaman & Nicobar Islands use these plastic boats for their fishing trips.

This is a very good example of something made by waste materials to use for mankind.”

Teapot of flowers, by Juliet Stibbe in Venice, Italy

“I like the way this person on Burano has used an old teapot as a vase for their flowers, and has put the teapot on the windowsill outside the house, for the pleasure of other people and trusting that no one will steal the “Teapot of Flowers”.

As the teapot was originally used for the containment and control of water, the idea of careful use of water resonates with the idea of the Art of Waste, and not wasting.  Apart from anything else, I just find it a happy, jolly and uplifting use of an old teapot.”

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

“This is a picture of three women and a men washing plastic waste flakes.

It was taken in Accra, Ghana.

I love this picture because you can see that they are very joyful doing an activity which adds value to waste. It is a wonder of waste that although struggling to earn a living out of waste, these people enjoy what they are doing.”

Bouteille coffee table, by Amina Saleh in Abuja, Nigeria

“This photo was taken as part of an exhibition and campaign for World Environment Day 2018. The striking finish of the product was a major delight seeing that all materials used were considered as waste.

The photograph features a furniture piece called the Bouteille coffee table made from wood off-cuts discarded at construction sites and discarded wine bottles with computer motherboard as non-detachable centre-piece decor. The tables are suitable for office, home and garden use.”

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

“The photograph is of a Romani homeless camp in Oradea, Romania, and depicts two huts made from a collection of materials taken from a nearby rubbish dump site (mostly timber).

The huts are dark, damp, and incomplete but provide the only shelter that this small community receives.

The photo shows that with a little imagination, waste materials can provide shelter, safety, even a home.”

2019 WasteAid Calendar

Limited edition – reserve your 2019 WasteAid calendar today!

Enjoy the wonders of waste all year round.

Perfect for home or the workplace, our 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.

You will be able to buy your copy of the calendar from our website towards the end of September. Order yours in advance by emailing info@wasteaid.org.uk. They also make great gifts…

All money raised from the calendar will be used to support the spread of recycling skills around the world.

Thanks again to everyone who entered, and to the generous judges and sponsors, for joining us in celebrating the wonders of waste!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

Thank you, you're subscribed