RELX Group announces 2016 Environmental Challenge winners

31 August 2016

Stockholm – RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics, has announced the winners of the 2016 RELX Group Environmental Challenge, which supports innovative solutions to improve sustainable access to safe water and sanitation. The $50,000 first and $25,000 second prize winners were recognised during World Water Week in Stockholm, a unique annual event bringing together water researchers, policymakers, journalists, companies and non-profits to address the key water challenges of the 21st century.

The winning project teams will also get free access for one year to ScienceDirect, Elsevier’s database of full text, scientific information, including over 370,000 articles in environmental science, and will be featured in Elsevier journal Water Research.

Dr Márcia Balisciano, RELX Group’s Director of Corporate Responsibility, said: “The RELX Group Environmental Challenge aligns with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 recognising the human right to water and sanitation.  Our 2016 winners will advance scalable, best practice projects that make a tangible difference to people’s health and quality of life.  The Environmental Challenge builds on our commitment to advancing science through our water research and other content.”

The announcement of the challenge winners coincides with the release of the latest in a series of reports to provide insight into sustainability science. ‘Waterscape: The state of water research’ identifies the countries producing and collaborating in water research and its impact. To download the report, click here.

The $50,000 first prize winner, UK-based Loowatt Ltd. has developed a proprietary waterless and energy-generating toilet system that is clean and odourless, creating social and environmental benefits that include water savings, carbon emissions reduction, improved human health and job creation. Loowatt’s patented core technology can fit into toilets of any shape or size and seals human waste into biodegradable polymer film. These are then emptied into an anaerobic digester where it is converted into natural gas or fertiliser – creating local jobs and revenue streams. With support from the Environmental Challenge, Loowatt will address low access to quality sanitation in Madagascar’s capital city through investment in local manufacturing capacity for toilet refills. This will create jobs and revenue streams for the city residents while supporting Loowatt’s ambition for its technology to serve over 2m customers a day in developing markets.

The $25,000 second prize winner is US-based AguaClara LLC, a social enterprise borne out of Cornell University. Its designs are for municipal-scale, nonelectric water treatment plants that are simple to operate and sustainable in small towns and villages. AguaClara’s gravity-powered water treatment technology is sustainable from its open-source design to easy maintenance of its modular components. Existing projects in Honduras (supported by the Cornell AguaClara programme prior to the founding of the company) and India are built using locally available materials and operated by the communities they serve. The Environmental Challenge prize money will support AguaClara in creating a 10-village water disinfection system in Orissa, India that will initially bring potable water to 5,000 people, create jobs through manufacture and operation of the system and drive research to further improve the technology.

Read more about the 2016 winners and past winners on the Environmental Challenge website.

A shortlist of three candidates was chosen from 91 original applicants.  The winning projects are replicable, scalable, sustainable and innovative, emphasising solutions with practical applicability. The Challenge’s distinguished panel of judges included Dr Mark van Loosdrecht, Professor of Biochemical Engineering, Delft University of Technology; Hanny Mass, Programme Manager of the Dutch WASH Alliance; Dr Prasad Modak, Executive President of the Environmental Management Centre in India; Professor Gang Pan, Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Katherine Purvis, Commissioning Editor and journalist with the Global Development Professionals Network at the Guardian who are media partners for the Challenge.

To learn more, please visit the Environmental Challenge website. See details of previous winning projects here.  Further information on RELX Group’s corporate responsibility activities can be found here. Sign up for updates on the 2017 Environmental Challenge competition here.


Matt Wood
+44 (0)20 7166 5612

Notes to Editors

About RELX Group Environmental Challenge
The RELX Group Environmental Challenge was launched in 2011 to contribute to the Water for Life Decade, an initiative launched in 2005 by the UN General Assembly to halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. According to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, 663m people were without safe drinking water, while more than 2.4bn people did not have adequate sanitation facilities in 2015. Poor access to safe water and sanitation contributes to health crises in many developing countries, and increasingly leads to violent conflict.This is the sixth year of the RELX Group Environmental Challenge which has funded more than 12 projects around the world focused on bringing quality water and improved sanitation to those in need.

About RELX Group
RELX Group is a world‐leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. The group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs approximately 30,000 people of whom half are in North America. RELX PLC is a London listed holding company which owns 52.9% of RELX Group. RELX NV is an Amsterdam listed holding company which owns 47.1% of RELX Group. The shares are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX and RENX. The total market capitalisation is approximately £29bn/€34bn/$38bn.

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