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Plastics in the ocean

Bristol-based Matter receives global funding to help confront microplastic pollution

Jack Wride
Authored by Jack Wride
Posted: Tuesday, November 2, 2021 - 09:04

Bristol-based CleanTech company Matter is one of 19 companies to have secured funding from Elemental Excelerator, a global nonprofit that invests in climate tech deployment.

Matter, founded by current CEO Adam Root in 2019, provides technology solutions for capturing, harvesting and recycling microplastics. First set up in UWE Bristol’s FutureSpace, they produce technology that has the ability to filter microplastics from domestic, business and industrial settings. Most recently, Matter has developed the commercial applications of their technology, producing a microfibre filter for domestic washing machines.

“All our clothes shed fibres when they are washed,” explains Root, “[and] in the UK alone it’s estimated that at least 9 trillion microfibres, from all material types, are released into the wastewater system every week. With 64% of new clothing being made from plastic derivates, microplastic fibres now represent the single biggest source of primary microplastics entering our oceans every year. These microfibres are unwittingly ingested by plankton and fish, meaning not only are they appearing in the fish we eat, but are disrupting the ocean ecosystem, the largest sequester of carbon dioxide on the planet.”

Established in 2009, Elemental Excelerator helps growth-stage companies scale technology and accelerate the delivery of solutions to climate change and ecological collapse. Their attention is spread across 5 different sectors: mobility, food & agriculture, water, circular economy and energy.

Dawn Lippert, Elemental’s founder and current CEO, spoke of their enthusiasm for Matter’s work and their attitude towards investing: “Our goal is to back companies that address climate change today and over the next 10 years, giving policymakers and corporations the confidence to act on climate now. We are very excited about Matter’s technology that supports our climate change goals and the wider environmental challenge of managing plastic pollution. But it isn’t just the technology. Elemental’s approach to investing in startups is unique. What we realise is that while technology has half the solution, partnerships and due diligence with the wider community brings the other half.”

Root cited Matter’s relationship with Bristol’s Women’s Institute as one of the reasons why the issue of microplastics has gained greater attention: “Becky, Matter’s designer (and Root’s wife) is an active member of Bristol’s Women’s Institute and seconded the WIs ‘Plastic Soup Campaign’ to stop our rivers and seas becoming choked with plastic waste. In partnership with Alberto Costa MP, Chair of the APPG for Microplastics, the WI recently delivered a policy report to UK Parliament with 6 key recommendations to help rid our seas of microfibre pollution from laundry.”

The recommendations proposed by the report include following French legislation with the fitting of microfibre filters in all new domestic and commercial washing machines from 2025, as well as the nomination and appointment of a ‘Minister for Plastics Pollution’.

“Matter believes that a combination of technology, advocacy and education is required to deliver the scale of change needed to stop microplastic pollution,” concluded Root, “and we’re convinced that Bristol has the ideal community, partners and culture to help support that change.”

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