Reducing waste: a journey with National Geographic

In the National Geographic issue “The End of Trash“, we are led around by the lens of Italian photographer Luca Locatelli. He teaches us how different parts of the world behave to reduce waste.

Among incredible colors, extreme landscapes and technologically ingenious solutions, this NatGeo report leads us in a discovery: to obtain virtuous examples of circular economy, all it takes is the right investment and a conscious design.

Reducing waste means rethinking waste

The Blue Lagoon Iceland is one of the most popular tourist attractions on a fascinating island in the far north of Europe. It is a SPA facility with crystal clear water, where tourists from all over the world come to soak in a warm blue pool with breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains.

Now, imagine if you were told that this water was garbage.

Or rather, that it was garbage!

In fact, as National Geographic explains, the water used to power the striking Blue Lagoon comes from the Svartsengi Power Station’s geothermal plant: a generator that uses boiling water extracted from underground to generate electricity.

So far, this is a very common type of plant for Iceland, a land known for its intense volcanic activity.

But the genius part is: once the water has been used for its purpose, what happens to it?

The Icelandic answer has been to reuse it and enhance it for human purposes.

However, we have to consider that only a scientific focus on this water has allowed technicians to use it this way. In fact, it was discovered that the water’s high silica content prevents it from percolating into the lava rocks below.

In short, this was the ideal type of water for a thermal plant.

The National Geographic article

In the 3/2020 issue of National Geographic, “The end of trash,” a familiar cover appears: a giant mountain of woolen clothes, stacked on top of each other in a riot of color. On the right, in the foreground, stylist Flavia La Rocca takes the measurements of a haute couture dress on the beautiful Rose Greenfield.

We are inside Comistra, where for generations we have been recycling old clothes in regenerated wool into a new yarn, which after the correct technological treatment becomes ready to be put on the market as a quality product.

Mainly, the old clothes become high fashion garments all over the world.

In our small district of Prato, near Florence, Italy, we have been nurturing this tradition for generations and working to reduce waste, and this is the story Luca Locatelli wanted to tell with his iconic photos for the prestigious magazine.

The importance of technology to reduce waste

But how would the waste revolution that we operate in Comistra (and in Blue Lagoon) be possible without product knowledge and the right technology?

In its journey, National Geographic continues to frame these cases around the world, where technology meets zero-waste philosophy: sometimes the waste from beer processing is used as feed for fly larvae destined for scientific research.

There is also an incredible ski slope built on top of the Amager Bakke incinerator in Copenhagen, Denmark. An amazing view, on top of a huge architecture capable of converting 534,600 tons of municipal waste per year into energy, which heats 72 thousand homes in the surrounding area.

Or, the wastewater purification system in Missoula, Montana, which works perfectly thanks to purifying micro-algae.

A technological revolution is going on. Reducing waste and eliminating waste is possible, but only if we continue to consciously invest in new technologies, and new production methods.