2023 RELX Environmental Challenge Winners Announced

RELX Environmental Challenge winners standing in front of Pollutec logo with trophies

RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers, has announced the winners of the 2023 RELX Environmental Challenge, which supports innovative solutions to advance SDG 6 Clean water and sanitation.  The 2023 award winners were recognised at Pollutec, an RX France event and part of RX Global, a RELX business. 

Since 2011, the RELX Environmental Challenge has been awarded to projects that best demonstrate how they can provide sustainable access to safe water or sanitation.  A $50,000 prize is granted to the first place entry and a $25,000 prize for the second place entry plus free access for one year to Science Direct,  the world's leading source for scientific, technical, and medical research.  Projects must have clear practical applicability, address identified need and advance related issues such as health, education, or human rights. 

2023 is the first year in which the RELX Environmental Challenge winners have been recognised at Pollutec, the leading trade fair to discover the latest innovative solutions in waste management, recycling, circular economy, water and energy.  The winning solutions were invited to participate in the show’s dedicated startup space and benefited from a specific program to present their projects during the pitch sessions.

Mirième Hill, RELX’s Corporate Responsibility Engagement lead and project manager for the Environmental Challenge, said: “Billions of people still lack access to safe water and sanitation and at the halfway point for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we’re behind for many of the targets and indicators, including those for clean water and sanitation.  It’s encouraging to see that the RELX Environmental Challenge continues to attract submissions from some of the brightest and most innovative researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs from across the globe and this year’s winners have demonstrated that despite the challenges - innovation; nature based approaches and a dedication to co-creating community-focused solutions are powerful tools in addressing urgent water and sanitation needs.

The $50,000 first prize winner is Lombrifiltro by CPlantae, a sanitary engineering firm and social enterprise based in Mexico that has developed and commercialized prefabricated vermifilters for onsite wastewater treatment. The Lombrifiltro system uses vermifiltration, an extension of the vermicomposting process whereby earthworms digest suspended particles and degrade organic matter through enzymatic activity.  CPlantae strive to provide a safe, wastewater treatment solution to communities across Mexico and Latin America who do not have do not have access to a sewer system.

Cesar Maldonado, Co-founder of CPlantae said, “Winning the RELX Environmental Challenge will significantly boost CPlantae's efforts.  It's more than just an award; it's an opportunity to make a broader impact. The prize money and recognition will help us expand our reach, providing safe water and sanitation to more communities in Mexico. It also opens doors to valuable partnerships and resources, allowing us to scale our mission effectively. Ultimately, this win propels us closer to our vision of a world with sustainable sanitation solutions, making CPlantae a recognized leader in this vital endeavour.

The second prize of $25,000 went to TU Delft Water For Impact that has developed electrocoagulation - a method to treat surface water using solar power and removing the need for costly and often hard to access chemicals. The pilot project will test the approach and effectiveness in providing a more sustainable and less chemical intensive solution to groundwater treatment challenges in northern Ghana.  Netherlands based, TU Delft Water for Impact aims to have real world impact using multidisciplinary science, technology and innovation in co-creation with local partners.

Guus Wiersma, Project coordinator and Communications for TU Delft | Water For Impact said "The RELX Environmental Challenge prize offers us the opportunity to construct a newly developed electro-coagulation reactor. This enables us to test the technology in a relevant environment and comparing it to the current chemical coagulation, making the data more valuable, and thus accelerating the research on electro-coagulation in low-resource settings”

A shortlist of five projects was chosen from more than 115 applications and the winners decided by the Challenge’s distinguished panel of expert judges included Dr Mark van Loosdrecht, Professor of Biochemical Engineering, Delft University of Technology and 2018 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate; Dr Lewis Collins, Editor of One Earth, a Cell Press journal publishing research in environmental change and sustainability science and Virginia Gardiner a sanitation expert and inventor and CEO of Loowatt, a waterless toilet system and first prize winner of the 2016 RELX Environmental Challenge.

About RELX

RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 35,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America.

About the RELX SDG Resource Centre

The free RELX SDG Resource Centre features leading-edge articles, reports, tools, events, videos and legal practical guidance from across RELX and key United Nations and other partners, to advance awareness, understanding and implementation of the 17 SDGs which aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all people by 2030. The SDG News Tracker on the homepage provides up-to-the minute news about the SDGs from around the world, searching millions of articles published daily across more than 75,000 news sources including in the six UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian), as well as German. 

For enquiries contact: Mirieme.hill@relx.com