2020 Photo Contest, Environment, Stories, 1st Prize

The End of Trash - Circular Economy Solutions

Photographer

Luca Locatelli

For National Geographic

21 October, 2019

Staff check the algae bioreactor at a pilot plant at CLEARAS Water Recovery headquarters in Missoula, Montana, USA. The plant cleans wastewater by using algae to filter out nitrogen, phosphorus and other chemicals. The resulting algae biomass is recycled for further use, such as in bioplastic shoe soles.

For centuries, industrialized countries have followed a take-make-waste linear economy: raw materials are gathered and transformed into products that are sold and then discarded as waste. Value is created in this economic system by producing and selling as many products as possible. The model not only drains natural resources, but also—in the demands it makes in energy consumption and because of a reliance on fossil fuels—exacerbates global heating. A circular economy offers an alternative by decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. It is based on designing waste and pollution out of the system, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. Farmers, manufacturers and governments across the globe are taking steps to experiment with and implement a circular economy as part of their efforts to address the climate crisis.

About the photographer

Luca Locatelli

Luca Locatelli is an environmental photographer and film-maker focused on the relations between people, science-technology and the environment. Locatelli produces his stories ...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1/60
ISO
800
Camera
Fujifilm GFX 100

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