Welcome to this episode of Hardware to Save a Planet. Today, we’re looking at overcoming the environmental challenge of 1.7 million tons of microfibre pollution in our oceans that impacts human health and the ecosystem and biodiversity of the oceans. We do a root cause analysis of the problem, and Adam Root, Founder of Matter., presents a filtration solution that addresses the problem at its source. It captures and recycles microplastics in our washing machines.

Join us as we discuss the detrimental effects of microplastics on the environment and human health while also exploring the importance of education, research, and legislation in tackling this issue. Discover how Matter.’s technology captures and recycles microplastics, and gain insights into the challenges and opportunities faced in scaling their business. This podcast is a must-listen for anyone passionate about protecting our planet.

The issue with microplastics is that they’re everywhere. They’re in our water, our air, our soil. And they have a negative impact on human health and marine life. It’s a pervasive problem that needs to be addressed. That’s why we’re focusing on capturing microplastics at their source, specifically in washing machines.

— Adam Root, Founder of Matter.

About Adam

Adam is a skilled, passionate, thoughtful, and principled designer. His views on global issues, sustainability, and environmental activism are well-informed and nuanced. Combine that with his industrial experience and well-researched product development knowledge, and you have a formidable eco-friendly designer!

As the founder of Matter., Adam is focused on delivering a scalable filtration solution to address the problem at its source in our washing machines. He is also the founder of Inheriting Earth, a company focused on sustainable design, which is also the holding company of Matter. Adam has also worked for over five years at Dyson as a Senior Design Engineer and was the recipient of the Young Innovator grant in 2018 and 2019. Adam is a Mechanical Engineer with a B.Eng degree from Kingston University.

The challenge

We currently dump around two million tons of plastics in the world’s oceans annually, and a majority of this is in the form of microplastics that are released into our environment when we wash our clothes. Since modern clothing is made from yarn that contains plastics like polyester, nylon, acrylic, and polyamide, when these clothes are washed, a staggering 700,000 microfibres are released into the ocean with each wash cycle. Additionally, microfibers find their way into the food we eat and water we drink. The microplastic pollution impacts both our health and the ocean’s biodiversity.

The solution

Matter. is changing this. They are an innovation company pioneering technology solutions for capturing, harvesting, and recycling microplastics. Founded in 2018, the company is now a leader in microfiltration, with circularity and sustainability at the heart of the business. Their mission is to stop microplastic pollution at its source.

Want to learn more?

Check out the key takeaways of this episode below. Better still, listen to the podcast!Check out the key takeaways of this episode below. Better still, listen to the podcast!

Key highlights

  • 07:49 – 11:31 – The true impact of microplastics on humans and the environment: Adam explains how plastic suffers from design flaws since it is designed to be virtually indestructible and used in single-use products. The issue of microplastics has three major pieces. The first is the ingestion of these microplastics as they find their way into our food chain. They are in our blood, have crossed the barrier, and have entered our brains. Over 60% of all clothing made today contains some type of plastic in the yarns. Every wash cycle in our homes releases over 700,000 microplastic particles into the water that then flow into wastewater treatment plants.  Since plastics have excellent bonding properties, microplastic particles bond with toxins in wastewater, and eventually, these poisoned particles reach our oceans. Oceans are the lungs of our planet, producing over 70% of the oxygen. Microplastics impact the ability of the oceans to release oxygen and affect the biodiversity of the oceans.
  • 17:14 – 20:09 – Plastic-free washing one gulp at a time: Gulp is a consumer product designed to capture microplastics at the source in our daily wash cycles. It is designed to swallow up the microplastics from your laundry before the ocean does. The simple solution connects directly to your washing machine and effectively captures microfibres before they can enter our oceans and rivers. The best part is that Gulp’s clever self-cleaning technology doesn’t require replacement filters, so you don’t have to worry about extra costs or additional waste. The solution works on the principle of capturing, harvesting, and recycling, wherein the end user can return the filtrate Matter. to the company, which then recycles the filtrate and prevents it from entering the oceans.
  • 20:13 – 23:03 – A scalable solution and a multi-pronged approach: Adam explains that the consumer version of the filtration solution can process up to 20 liters a minute and that they have a pre-launch commercial version that can process up to a million liters per day. The company plans to further scale the commercial version, use it at effluent treatment plants, and integrate it into the water supply system for a multi-pronged approach to keep microplastics out of our food chains and oceans.