Funding for Bristol firm aiming to clean up microplastic pollution caused by washing machines

November 19, 2021

A Bristol-based tech firm has secured a £150,000 investment to help it scale up its innovative method of capturing, harvesting and recycling microplastics before they can pollute the world’s oceans.

Called Matter, the firm was founded in 2017 by former Dyson engineer and keen scuba diver Adam Root, pictured

He was shocked to discover the size of the microplastics problem – 5.25trillion particles of plastic are currently in the world’s oceans – and set about using his skills and experience to engineer a solution to stop them reaching the ocean in the first place, then recycling them.

Most microplastics have been generated by clothes washing. Modern clothing tends to contain plastics, such as polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide, meaning a staggering 700,000 microfibres are released into the ocean after every machine wash.

Backed by the investment from the British Design Fund, Matter is now working with researchers and universities to develop new technologies for capturing the microfibres straight after washing and reusing them – so creating a truly closed loop system.

It is looking to do this by, for example, turning them into sustainable packaging material.

Adam said: “When I decided to try and come up with a way to tackle the microplastic problem, I didn’t have a lot of money. I’d left my job and we were living with my wife’s parents.

“I received a £250 ‘will it work’ grant from the Prince’s Trust and used it to take apart a washing machine and create a filter that would be able to capture the microplastics from the water.

“That’s when I had my ‘eureka’ moment, as I found that my idea worked. From there, I went on to start the company and we’ve been growing at pace ever since.”

Having created a retrofit filter for domestic washing machines, Matter is now looking to scale up while also finding solutions for commercial and industrial markets across the world.

“It’s a hugely busy and exciting time for us and we’re delighted to be working with British Design Fund on the next stage in our development,” said Adam.

British Design Fund CEO Damon Bonser added: “We had been following Adam and his team’s growth over the past two years and were very impressed by the progress and impact being made by them in such an important sector.

“They are a great example of the type of purpose-led, product-driven start-ups the fund is keen to support and we look forward to seeing what they achieve moving forward.”

London-based British Design Fund (BDF) works with ambitious British start-ups that are ready to scale up and build thriving stand-out businesses.

Alongside capital investment, BDF provides expert mentoring to support such companies to accelerate their growth plans.

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