Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award

Green Industries SA Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award recognises the contribution of emerging and established women leaders making a positive contribution to South Australia's waste and resource recovery industry and related areas such as the Circular Economy. South Australian women are invited to undertake a project which will create new ideas and innovation to assist the State to maintain its reputation as a leader in the waste sector.

This Award is in memory of Pam Keating, a noted environmentalist and waste management expert who passionately believed in the importance of reducing waste and its impact on the environment.

Aim of the award

The aim of the Green Industries SA Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award is to provide an opportunity for a South Australian woman who is an emerging or established leader working in the area of waste and resource recovery or related areas such as the Circular Economy to pursue an investigative project of a kind that is not readily available in South Australia.
No prescribed qualifications are required and the subject of the proposed project is limited to benefiting the waste industry and/or the waste management practices of a business or industry organisation in South Australia. Merit of the proposed project is a key factor and a desire to share the project's findings in South Australia and nationally.


To be eligible to apply for an Award you must:

  • be an Australian Citizen over the age of 18
  • live and work in South Australia
  • have experience in and commitment to the waste and resource recovery industry
  • not be enrolled in tertiary studies directly related to the topic of your proposed project
  • have a short project that requires interstate or overseas investigation
  • be willing to disseminate the results of your findings
  • have evidence from your employer confirming that they will provide matched funding to support your project.
  • if the applicant is a sole business operator advise the extent to which a financial contribution can be made to offset the research program’s costs.  

Employees, contractors and consultants from the South Australian Government are eligible to nominate.

Selection process

A judging panel will consider all nominations for the Award. Based on the initial assessment applicants may be contacted for further information. The panel may elect not to select a recipient of the Award. The decision of the panel is final and no appeals will be accepted.

Award presentation

The Award is normally presented to the winner at an event to be confirmed in the second half of each year.


In addition to the cash contribution, emerging leaders will be offered an opportunity for mentoring by an experienced women executive leader in the waste/resource recovery sector.

Conditions of Award

Funds must be expended in the financial year of the award and are to be used for travel, accommodation and conference attendance costs all of which are arranged by the successful nominee.

The Award is subject to the successful nominee agreeing to be bound by the conditions set out in a letter of acceptance document signed between Green Industries SA and the nominee.

Interested in applying? Find out more

Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award 2016 winner

Fiona Jenkins

As the inaugural winner of the Green Industries SA Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award, Fiona Jenkins embarked on her '3 bin project'. Through this project, Fiona visited, documented and presented information and interviews about kerbside recycling from some of the world's best recyclers. Visiting Adelaide and Sydney in Australia, Portland (Oregon) in the US, and Flanders in Belgium, the project uncovered the secrets to lifting our household recycling rates from 50% to up to 80%, using variations on the 3 bin system we have now. Blog posts on www.fiona-jenkins.squarespace.com share information on life and recycling in each of these four  great cities. Posts include in-depth interviews with some of the most knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the waste and recycling world. 

"I'll be looking back on lessons learnt from my study tour which included San Francisco, Portland and Flanders for the next 20 years," Fiona says.

"The support of my employer, the City of Charles Sturt reinforced the professional growth I would experience through this program."

Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award 2017 winner

Kat Heinrich

A senior consultant specialising in waste and resource management, Kat Heinrich has won the annual Green Industries SA Women in Circular Economy Award for 2017. Leveraging her international connections in Europe and the United States, Ms Heinrich will investigate best-practice food waste initiatives that could drive a change to reduce food waste in South Australia and further the state’s reputation for innovation in the recycling and resource recovery sector. In 2017 she started a blog to share best-practice in food waste management from cities globally, visit www.beyondfoodwaste.com for more information.

"I am passionate about addressing food waste, which is a significant issue globally, and through this award aim to stimulate a step-wise change in South Australia. While South Australia leads the country in waste and resource recovery practices, food waste particularly in the household stream, remains a significant challenge and opportunity for the state."

Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award 2018 winner

Shani Wood

An Environmental Officer with the City of Holdfast Bay, Shani Wood has been awarded the Green Industries SA Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award for 2018.

She has developed key behaviour change projects for the City of Holdfast Bay which have resulted in improved waste management and recycling rates. Her project will address the global issue of textile waste by investigating practices in Australia, Hong Kong, the UK, and Belgium and, by drawing on these experiences influence improved practices in South Australia. "In the world of fast fashion, textile waste is an ever-growing issue of global significance. After the US, Australians are the second largest consumers of textiles," says Ms Wood.

"New technology and programs need to be embraced to help reduce the approximate 85% of textile wast that goes to landfill in Australia. While South Australia leads the country in waste and resource recovery practices, textile waste remains a significant challenge and opportunity.

Addressing textile waste is an important step in South Australia’s transition to a more circular economy particularly in the area of technology and re-manufacturing."

Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award 2019 Grace Barilla

Grace Barila, Manager Environment Services, KESAB environmental solutions will examine school waste education by investigating how to measure the impact of programs in terms of the transfer of knowledge from school to home. 

Ms Barilla will examine selected national and international educational programs. The scope of her research will include the 8-12 year old cohort and teenagers. Specific research questions Ms Barila will examine include:

  • Is the waste management message being relayed back into the family home having an impact on waste diversion following delivery of current education programs to school groups?
  • Do outcomes demonstrate less contamination and increased diversion of waste?

The project will involve undertaking research through surveys, interviews and interface embracing education projects to better understand:

  • How education is being delivered in school and education centres
  • Why organisations do not engage students as the target audience to impact on best behaviour practices
  • Survey and interview schools, students, families and facilitators to research how and if the message is successfully being translated 
  • Undertake interviews and surveys of other programs across the country and globally.

“With 14 years’ experience designing and delivering education initiatives for the community, including remote aboriginal communities, I’m extremely keen to improve the measurement of educational program outcomes through research,” says Ms Barila.

“This will provide an opportunity to improve education in waste and the circular economy and in response to increasing community expectations that we ‘waste less’ and ‘value more of our resources’.”

Women in Circular Economy Leadership Award 2019 Megan Bekesi

Megan Bekesi, Education and Promotions Manager, East Waste will examine the use of online media platforms and campaigns, including gamification in household waste education.

Megan Bekesi aims to determine the best online platforms for the delivery of household waste disposal information gathered through East Waste’s bin weighing technology. She will explore the technology in use by other councils nationally and how these are delivering the information to household. 

“Having worked in waste education for eight years, I’m constantly looking for new and innovative ideas to improve the delivery of education and drive behaviour change,” says Ms Bekesi.

“My research into viral education campaigns that use fun, gamification and online technology to drive waste behaviour change, will provide great knowledge and ideas to take waste education to the next level.”