MICROCATCH – Catching microplastics before their reach the oceans
Jana Garous is an enthusiastic and driven entrepreneur from Norway, passionate by surf and the sea. In the past years, she has started a fashion related sustainable and ethical company in Portugal (Sober&Naked) with a key focus in implementing Circular Economy practices along their production process, highlighting global plastic pollution challenges in our oceans and advocating in the usage of innovative and sustainable materials.
After such an experience, Jana wanted to have a more impactful action in preventing microplastics from reaching the ocean and for that, she and João Silva created MICROCATCH. We had the opportunity to interview Jana during the BioMarine Business Convention 2019 to bring you more about MICROCATCH!
BIOMARINE. Jana, can you explain us a bit more about MICROCATCH? What is it about and what are you focusing on right now to push the business forward?
JG. – MICROCATCH is an innovative solution that aims to prevent even the smallest plastic microfibers from escaping your washing machine. Right now, we are developing a filter, capable of fitting in all washing machine models, to prevent microplastics from being released into the water streams and get into the food we consume daily. Other possible applications for our solution (which is one of our goals to implement), would be in food processing industries that use water that may be contaminated with microplastics (e.g. fish farms, shellfish farms, salt, etc), textile industries (e.g. dyes, manufacturing, production of synthetic fibers, etc) or even industrial/commercial washing of textiles/clothing.
BIOMARINE. As you told us, in two years you aim to start and finish your prototype and start selling. What major steps have you already achieved towards this goal? Can you tell us a bit about the great news you received recently that will allow you to push this process forward?
JG. So far, we have been working on the development of a complete business case, including customer development, market and competitive analysis and financial planning, while conducting numerous applications for national and international competitions and funding opportunities. Meanwhile, we’ve recently won 1st place on national finals of Climate Launchpad 2019 and found an important partner to develop a prototype that effectively filters microplastics, with whom we are ironing out the details of our partnership. The current prototype we have available does not encompass a degradation process, yet, so our goal is to develop that aspect first through collaborations with R&D centers specialized in bio tech, materials and wastewater treatment.
BIOMARINE. As in every business, there is a pool of competitors you must account with. A few of them include filtered bags (where clothes are inserted when they are being washed, to prevent plastic microfibers from being released). As this seems like a convenient solution (that you don’t have to specifically integrate in our washing machines), why is MICROCATCH a more efficient solution?
JG. Yes, we consider those kinds of solutions as indirect competitors, given their functional objective. However, we are trying to achieve a hassle-free solution to the consumer so that there isn’t a need to change habits. At this moment, those solutions are not yet hassle-free and require a degree of effort especially when trashing the collected fibers back in the bin or down the sink- which ultimately ends up in our oceans or land-fields. Also, there are other similar solutions for integrated filters, but most (if not all) of them require often replacements and don’t eliminate the microfibers, solving only half of the problem. We aim not only for an integrated solution, but also one that eliminates the plastic microfibers at once, after each washing cycle, through a combination of biological and mechanical degradation processes.
BIOMARINE. Finally, what are you looking for and what do you bring for the BioMarine Community?
JG. Right now we are focused on finding potential investors and partners to co-develop the solution and fit the specific industry needs. We are also exploring the interest from other industries so that we can evaluate other product applications. As for the BioMarine Community, here’s some of the possibilities for collaborations:
• We are developing a solution to filter and handle microplastics that are present in their waste waters. Emitting industries are potentially facing regulatory restrictions so we can serve a future need. Furthermore, there’s an increasing pressure from consumers to address this problem and doing so can represent, at the same time, a good marketing tactic;
• For food processing industries, we can be a future supplier that will solve a growing problem affecting their industries. We can also become a partner allowing big corporations to contribute in future initiatives fighting microplastic pollution and reducing each specific industry footprint.
Do you want to know more about MICROCATCH? Connect with Jana and their team on the BioMarine Community!