Could these people have the solutions to the climate crisis? Prince of Wales announces the finalists for the Earthshot Prize 2022 including a company making seaweed packaging as a plastic alternative
- Prince William has announced the 15 finalists for his second environmental prize
- There are finalists from the UK for the first time, with two British-based entries
- The contenders range from a ‘Great Bubble Barrier’ to cleaner-burning stoves
- The five winners – due to be announced in Boston next month – will each win £1m
The Prince of Wales has announced the finalists for his second Earthshot Prize, with the shortlist including a ‘Great Bubble Barrier’ to catch plastics before they reach the ocean and a zero-waste city.
Fifteen innovative ideas from across the globe are in the running for the environmental competition in 2022, with five winners – due to be announced in Boston in the US next month – set to receive £1million each to develop their projects.
There are also finalists from the UK for the first time, with two British-based entries being selected.
Notpla Hard Material – a start-up run by Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez in London – makes packaging from seaweed and plants as an alternative to single use plastic.
It has already created more than one million biodegradable takeaway food boxes for the firm Just Eat.
The other UK finalist – Low Carbon Materials (LCM), based in Durham, uses unrecyclable plastic waste to make traditional concrete blocks carbon-zero.
The Prince of Wales has today announced the the 15 finalists for the second Earthshot Prize
Notpla Hard Material – a start-up run by Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez (pictured) in London – makes packaging from seaweed and plants as an alternative to single use plastic
Scott Bush and Natasha Boulding (pictured) from LCM, which uses unrecyclable plastic waste to make traditional concrete blocks carbon zero, are one of the 15 finalists
Dr Natasha Boulding, one of the co-founders of LCM, said: ‘Until now, construction has been one of the hardest industries to decarbonise.
‘With LCM, that could all change. We’ve turned concrete net-zero and now we need the world to start using it.’
Announcing this year’s finalists, Prince William, 40, described them as ‘innovators, leaders, and visionaries’ and said they proved there are ‘many reasons to be optimistic about the future of our planet’.
‘They are directing their time, energy, and talent towards bold solutions with the power to not only solve our planet’s greatest environmental challenges, but to create healthier, more prosperous, and more sustainable communities for generations to come,’ he added.
His ambitious ten-year £50million prize – which is designed to find solutions to repair and regenerate the earth – was inspired by John F Kennedy’s Moonshot project which advanced mankind’s achievements.
The prince said he was ‘so excited’ to celebrate the finalists and meet the winners when he and the Princess of Wales head to Boston – President Kennedy’s home town – on December 2 for the awards gala.
The City of Amsterdam Circular Economy is also a potential winner. Pictured: a clothes swap shop in the Netherlands’ capital
Another finalist is Mukuru Clean Stoves from Kenya, started by Charlot Magayi (pictured), who grew up in one of Nairobi’s largest slums
Among the other finalists are The Great Bubble Barrier, from the Netherlands. Described as a ‘smart solution to plastic pollution’, this technology uses air pumped through a perforated tube to create a curtain of bubbles, which directs plastic up to the surface and into a waste collection system.
The City of Amsterdam Circular Economy is also a potential winner with its city-wide initiative to establish a fully circular economy by 2050, wasting nothing and recycling everything.
Another finalist is Mukuru Clean Stoves from Kenya, which provides cleaner-burning stoves to reduce unhealthy indoor pollution and provide a safer way to cook.
The initiative was started by Charlot Magayi, who grew up in one of Nairobi’s largest slums, Mukuru, and who used to sell charcoal for fuel.
Charlot suffered from repeated respiratory infections due to the charcoal pollution, and then sought an alternative solution after her daughter was severely burnt by a charcoal stove in 2012.
The Prince and Princess of Wales at the inaugural Earthshot Prize awards ceremony at London’s Alexandra Palace last October
2021’s £1MILLION EARTHSHOT WINNERS
The Earthshot Prize Winners for 2021 were:
Protect and Restore Nature
The Republic of Costa Rica
With an innovative policy paying citizens to protect the rainforests and restore local ecosystems, the people of Costa Rica and their Ministry for Environment have reversed decades of deforestation.
Since the programme launched, Costa Rica’s forests have doubled in size, leading to a boom in ecotourism and contributing 4 billion to the economy Through winning The Earthshot Prize, Costa Rica will expand their work to protect the ocean and support the replication of their approach in other countries, especially in the Global South.
Clean our Air
New Delhi-based Takachar has developed pioneering technology to help end the burning of agricultural waste, which causes severe air pollution. Their cheap, small-scale, portable technology attaches to tractors and converts crop residues into sellable products like fuel and fertilizer and helps reduce smoke emissions by up to 98%.
By winning The Earthshot Prize, Takachar will expand its operations to more rural communities around the world with a goal to cut a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Revive our Oceans
Coral Vita, Bahamas
Coral Vita’s innovative approach to coral farming of growing coral on land then replanting it in the ocean can grow coral up to 50 times faster than traditional methods and improves coral resilience to the impact of climate change.
Winning The Earthshot Prize will accelerate Coral Vita’s goal to establish a global network of coral farms to grow a billion corals each year.
Build a Waste-free World
The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs, Italy
As the first major city to enforce a city-wide food waste policy, Milan’s Food Waste Hub programme recovers food from local supermarkets and restaurants and distributes it to citizens in need, recovering about 130 tonnes of food per year, an estimated 260,000 meals equivalent.
Through winning The Earthshot Prize, the city of Milan’s model can be scaled to other cities.
Fix our Climate
AEM Electrolyser, Thailand/Germany/Italy
The AEM Electrolyser from Enapter turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas with a technology that has been developed quicker and cheaper than ever before and can transform how we power our homes and buildings and fuel transport. Funding from The Earthshot Prize will help scale mass production, making it universally easy to buy and install AEM Electrolysers wherever activities have high energy demand.
Her eco-stoves use processed biomass made from charcoal, wood and sugar cane and cause 90 per cent less pollution than an open fire. And she plans to create an even cleaner version which burns ethanol.
Others in the final include Fleather – a leather made out of floral waste in India; Oman-based 44.01 who eliminate CO2 by mineralising it in rock; Hutan in Malaysia – a conservation organisation which creates wildlife corridors to give orangutans safe passage to new habitats; and the Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef group from Australia who use ancient knowledge and digital technologies to protect the land and sea.
There are five Earthshot categories: Protect and restore nature; Clean our air, Revive our oceans; Build a waste-free world; and Fix our climate.
William and his charity, The Royal Foundation, launched the Earthshot Prize in 2020 and it is billed as the most prestigious of its kind, with a £50million prize pot to be awarded to five winners every year until 2030.
The prince said he had come up with the idea for Earthshot following a visit to Namibia in 2018 and then being ‘hit by a wave of global pessimism’ at climate change talks, which he feared could foster a growing sense of despondency.
William said he was also inspired by his father Prince Charles and late grandfather Prince Philip, who both argued for decades about the importance of conservation and the impact of climate change.
The inaugural Earthshot Prize awards ceremony was held at London’s Alexandra Palace last October and among those who walked the event’s green carpet were Harry Potter star Emma Watson, wearing a wedding dress made of 10 dresses from Oxfam, and Dame Emma Thompson.
Each winner received £1million prize money and a global network of support to scale their cutting-edge environmental solutions to repair our planet.
The winner of the Revive our Oceans category went to Gator Halpern and Sam Teicher of Coral Vita – a project which grows coral on land to replenish life in dying ocean ecosystems. Its methods grow coral up to 50 times faster than typical methods and improves resilience to the impact of climate change.
The second award, for the Fix our Climate category, went to AEM Electrolyser, which turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas.
Vidyut Mohan of Takachar, which converts leftover crops in fuel, won the Clean our Air prize. Takachar developed a cheap, small-scale, portable technology that attaches to tractors in remote farms, converting crop residues into bio-products like fuel and fertilizer.
The fourth Earthshot award for the Build a Waste-Free World category went to the city of Milan, whose Food Waste Hubs aim to halve waste by 2030. Each hub recovers food, primarily from supermarkets and companies’ canteens, and gives it to NGOs who distribute it to citizens.
And finally the winner of the Protect and Restore Nature category went to the Republic of Costa Rica, whose Ministry for Environment paid citizens to protect forests, plant trees, and restore ecosystems, leading to the country’s forests doubling in size.
This year’s event in Boston on December 2 will air on the BBC two days later on December 4.
In a statement yesterday, BBC executive Jack Bootle said last year’s inaugural ceremony included ‘big-name stars and brilliant musical acts. This year’s will be every bit as spectacular.’
Prince William has confirmed that he and Kate will be making the journey to the U.S. for the ceremony next month.
He hosted a virtual meeting with mayor Michelle Wu last month about Boston’s work on sustainability and ongoing preparations for the event.
It remains to be seen whether the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have made their home in the US, will be among the guests when the event is staged in early December.