World Press Photo 2020

Environment Stories Winner

For centuries, industrialised 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.

Amager Bakke, located near Copenhagen, Denmark, on Oct 4, 2019. The waste-to-energy plant, which replaced an old coal incineration facility, produces enough electricity to power at least 60,000 homes and heat 72,000. It uses advanced filtration technology that reduces emissions of noxious nitrogen oxides to almost zero. PHOTO: © LUCA LOCATELLI, ITALY, FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
A vertical farming facility in Newark, the United States, on Oct 31, 2019. The farm produces fresh vegetables in a way that uses 5 per cent of the water normally needed in an outdoor field. Seeds are laid on fabric made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles and misted from below, in a closed system that requires no pesticides and allows nutrients to be spot-delivered. PHOTO: © LUCA LOCATELLI, ITALY, FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
A worker at Entocycle, a company developing technology to farm insects on a large scale for industrial protein production as a more sustainable alternative to meat, checking flies in an experimental net chamber in London on Oct 10, 2019. She wears a mask as the floor is covered in rotting waste material to incite the flies to lay eggs. PHOTO: © LUCA LOCATELLI, ITALY, FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Workers checking the algae bioreactor at a pilot plant at CLEARAS Water Recovery headquarters in Missoula, the United States, on Oct 21, 2019. 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. PHOTO: © LUCA LOCATELLI, ITALY, FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

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