Innovation That Matters

Although every innovation we cover here at Springwise is meaningful in some way or another, those that create impact at the same time as supporting other charities to do their work are some of our most impressive.

In honour of #InternationalCharityDay on the 5th September, we have curated 5 such innovations, those supporting charities ranging from men’s mental health and eco-education to feeding children impacted by school closures during the pandemic.

Photo source: Fig & Bloom / Gotcha4Life


In reaction to the alarming statistic that men make up 75 per cent of suicides every single day in Australia, florist Fig & Bloom partnered with the mental health charity Gotcha4life to launch a range of bouquets designed for men. Named the Broquet collection, it was developed in the hopes of encouraging men to send a bouquet to their male friends, ultimately sparking conversation about mental health and strengthening their social connections.

Fig & Bloom worked with Melbourne-based creative agency Thinkerbell to create three different floral arrangements for the Broquet collection. Firstly, the Pinnacles is a simple white arrangement named after the limestone pillars that stand in the Western Australian outback. Then we have the Daintree Broquet, which features deep emerald green and ash gold tones. Lastly, the Uluru has a rugged look with bumpy knobbles designed to stand out and is named after the rock in the outback’s Red Centre.

Read more about Fig & Bloom campaign.

Photo source: 99Recycle


Working with local charities, the St. Petersburg-based company 99Recycle creates clothing, accessories, bags, interiors products, skateboards and many more products, all from plastic waste sourced from several large landfill sites just outside the city. A number of the brand’s partners help to clean and sort the plastic, and unlike traditional fashion houses, this is what makes up the majority of time spent on each product.

Specialist sewers then hand-craft the items, often using castoff materials such as old trampolines and advertising banners. For larger pieces, the company built a custom 3D printer that works with plastic waste. The team plans to use the printer to expand its work into public spaces, with benches and other social works.

Read more about 99Recycle.

Photo source: Sole Responsibility


It’s no secret that the fashion industry produces huge amounts of waste each year. One reason is that returned and seconds stock often ends up incinerated or thrown away because they can’t be sold. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 300 million pairs of shoes alone are thrown away each year. Now, a small British company is working to reduce this footwear mountain. Their company, Sole Responsibility, sells only seconds or out of season shoe stock from big-name retailers, all of which were slated for destruction or the landfill.

Sole Responsibility was set up by couple Simon and Helen Payne, who started the business as a way to spend more time with their children. In the process of growing a business based on reducing waste, the couple has also developed a model that is not only environmentally friendly but helps others as well. A percentage of every purchase is donated to the charity Smartmove, which helps to house the homeless. The company also receives items such as sleeping bags and warm coats from retailers, which it donates directly to the charity. 

Read more about Sole Responsibility.

Photo source: Raglan Food Co


New Zealand’s first carbon-zero Certified B Corporation yoghurt company has recently launched a new Kefir product range.

Known as Raglan’s Mr and Mrs Coconut, Latesha Randall​ and Seb Walter​ started Raglan Food Co after Randall made her first batch in their home kitchen for Seb, who is dairy-intolerant. Seven years later, the company now has 30 members of staff and produces over 25,000 jars of yoghurt that are shipped across New Zealand and distributors in Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China. 

The company has contributed over €27,000 to social and environmental causes, donated 50,193 jars of yoghurt to charities and has planted over 2,143 trees. They have also sponsored the local animal sanctuary and two rescued orangutans.

Read more about Raglan Food Co.

Photo source:


Inspired by the COVID-19 global health crisis, fashion, beauty and home goods seller Olivela launched Olivela IRL, an online, one-stop digital destination for everything beauty, fashion, education and fun-related. They created and invited customers and guests to sign-up for exclusive virtual experiences, tailored sessions with fashion and beauty experts and informational talks with industry pros and designers.

Founded by Stacey Boyd in 2017 during a visit to a refugee camp with Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, the company already regularly donates to Save the Children, Malala Fund, Global Wildlife Conservation and Project Glimmer, among many others.

At the onset of the global crisis, the brand also extended its commitment to supporting vulnerable communities by donating 20 per cent of each sale to a host of local, national and international charities. Since March, Olivela has provided over 70,000 meals to kids negatively impacted by coronavirus-related school closures.

Read more about Olivela IRL.

Curated By: Holly Hamilton

This 19th August is #WorldHumanitarianDay, a day that advocates a universal effort to advocate for the survival, well-being, and dignity of people affected by crises. This year’s theme focuses on all the volunteers, professionals, and crisis-affected people who provide urgent services such as shelter, food, water, and healthcare.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together some of our top innovations that can help during a crisis.



The New York-based architecture firm Hariri & Hariri developed a prefabricated folding pod that can be constructed without any hardware or tools. The Iranian sisters Gisue and Mojgan Hariri drew on their own experience of losing a home when they designed the pod. Modelled after the Japanese art of origami, the pods arrive flat-packed and unfold instantly at the push of a button to create a 500 square-foot single-storey unit. Pods can also be linked together to create larger units. 

The pod uses prefabricated modular construction and hinged, folded panels to facilitate the shipping and assembly process. The panels are constructed from glass and Equitone panels (a fibre-based cement) and create a lightweight structure that lets in light and air for natural ventilation and is very adaptable.

Read more bout the Hariri & Hariri pods.

Photo source: Woodpecker


Many construction companies are now looking at ways to make their work more sustainable, and a Colombia-based construction company is one of the latest. Woodpecker WPC is using waste coffee husks to build affordable, eco-friendly housing for local communities. Coffee is widely available in Colombia, which is the world’s third-largest coffee producer, inspiring the company to use coffee husks for its strong and dry properties. During the coffee roasting process, the dried skin on a coffee bean, known as the husk, falls off and is usually dumped in a landfill, which releases methane.

Woodpecker has now taken that waste from the coffee production process and recycled it into lightweight composite blocks that can be used for construction. These blocks can be easily assembled without the need for any specialised training or tools, making the building process a quick one. Made solely from coffee husks and plastic-based boards and steel frames, the prefabricated buildings can be easily transported to rural and difficult-to-access areas, with a construction time that takes less than a week.

Read more about Woodpecker WPC.

Photo source Anastasiia Krutota on Unsplash


Since the start of the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, people around the world have been welcoming refugees fleeing the conflict. In the US, the ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ programme offers Ukrainians a pathway to permanent residency if they are sponsored by a US citizen.

A new platform called Welcome Connect makes it easy for US citizens to connect with Ukrainian refugees who lack an existing connection to a sponsor.  

The site, which was developed with support from Goldman Sachs, ServiceNow, Infosys, and the Breakthrough Prize Foundation’s Tech for Refugees initiative, is designed to be safe and easy to use. The goal is to give vulnerable Ukrainians agency while ensuring that US sponsors have a positive experience.

Read more about Welcome Connect.

Photo source: Echale


Échale uses Ecoblocks to construct new houses. This is an adobe-based building system that uses local materials and is produced on-site using cold processes – so no power is required to produce them. Échale teaches community members to make the blocks and to build houses using them. At the same time, the company pays workers to produce Ecoblocks and works with partners to provide financing to unbanked families, so that they can purchase building materials.  

Échale does not stop at construction but works together with municipal, state and federal governments to ensure that all homes have access to basic electricity, water and waste management services. The civil society organisation not only generates employment but promotes sustainable development and helps people to build their own housing, with the understanding that “there is no better housing supervisor than the one who is going to live there,” according to founder Francesco Piazzesi.

Read more about Échale.

Photo source Balbek


The need for emergency shelters in Ukraine has increased exponentially as a result of the country’s invasion by Russia. In response, architect Slava Balbek began designing new housing for people forced to flee their homes.

After convening a team of 10 architects at his company, he began to work on designs for refugee shelters that could be built quickly. The team analysed 20 existing models from around Europe before deciding on its final product – which is tailored to suit Ukraine’s cold climate.

The shelter’s design is modular, with small units that can be arranged in configurations that cater for different numbers of people – from as few as 50 to hundreds. Some configurations feature communal bathrooms, kitchens, and green space, while others have room underneath them dedicated solely towards playgrounds and sports fields.

Read more about Balbek.

Curated By: Holly Hamilton

This article was first published in August 2021 and updated 17/08/2022

One of the easiest ways to help the environment is to focus on what kinds of plastic we use, how we use them, and what we do to clean up the plastic already polluting the earth. Plastic Free July is a global movement that encourages people to refuse to use single-use plastic, helping them to become part of the solution.

Plastic waste innovations are among the most popular covered by Springwise. In honour of #plasticfreejuly, we have curated 7 of our best.

Photo source Jeff Fitlow/Rice University


Graphene has long been considered something of a wonder material. Made of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-like lattice structure, the material has been used for a range of applications such as paints, sensors, electronics, and solar panels. Now, a partnership between Rice University researchers and the Ford Motor Company, has added car parts to the growing list of graphene’s uses. And the real kicker? The graphene for the parts can be made from difficult-to-recycle plastics found in old vehicles.

Mixed plastic is a headache for the auto industry as cars contain a complex combination of plastic resin, filler, and reinforcements that must be separated before they can be recycled – a process that is difficult if not impossible.

For the Rice-Ford research team, a process called Flash Joule Heating is the solution to this problem. In this process, mixed plastic is blasted with a high-voltage current that vapourises the other elements in the plastic leaving behind graphene. The graphene can then be used to reinforce new car parts.

Read more about the research.

Photo source Microsoft


Microsoft’s wireless Ocean Plastic Mouse contains 20 per cent recycled plastic and comes in 100 per cent recycled packaging. The case of the device is made from plastic removed from waterways. After processing and cleaning, this waste is turned into plastic pellets for use in the final product.

The new packaging replaces previous single-use plastic versions with fully recyclable paper pulp, the latter deriving from sugarcane fibres and recyclable wood. And for users wanting to responsibly replace their current mouse with a new one, the company offers a mail-in service in a number of different countries to collect the old devices for recycling.

Read more about the Ocean Plastic Mouse.

Photo source: Brothers Make


Matt and Jonny, the UK-based siblings and content creators of Brothers Make, have designed an upcycled cutting board made from used plastic bottle tops. Matt, a design and technology secondary school teacher, and Jonny, a senior account manager at a marketing firm, started making things together in 2018 as a way of spending more quality time together which eventually led to launching a YouTube channel. 

After gaining traction, the brothers opened an online store selling products made using 100 per cent recycled waste plastic. The shop sells a variety of things, ranging from plant pots, coasters and coffee caddies to buttons, Māori Pendants and guitar picks.  

To ensure the chopping boards comply with safety standards, the brothers say that all the plastic that they receive is hand-sorted to ensure it is food-grade HDPE plastic and that there are no non-plastic contaminants left on the plastic. They then run the plastic through three sorting and cleaning cycles before being heated. They also said that they keep the heating process at around 140-160 degrees so that no fumes are introduced to the plastic or burning occurs.  

Read more about Brothers Make.

Photo source: Anti


Anti is a new design company created with a singular purpose. Every product that the business builds is upcycled from an item that is rarely, if ever, recycled. The first collection is a series of desk and table lamps made from discarded umbrellas. With more than one billion umbrellas thrown away worldwide each year, the volume of available material is vast.

One of the main reasons that umbrellas are so wasteful is that they are not built to last. As part of the throwaway culture that simply replaces rather than repairs items, hundreds of thousands of pounds of metal, plastic and nylon are wasted annually through the incineration or dumping of umbrellas as rubbish.

The team dissembles each umbrella into its separate materials. Plastic pieces are either reused as is or melted down for 3D printing into new shapes. The final designs echo the original shapes of the umbrellas yet are far stronger and are built to be repaired and used for many years. If a customer wants to discard a lamp, the company runs a take-back scheme that reintegrates the returned item back into the circular design process.

Read more about Anti.

Photo source: Trex


Wood decking is beautiful and versatile, but not very sustainable. However, a Virginia-based company has developed a way to make ‘wooden’ decking almost entirely from waste products. The company turns reclaimed sawdust and plastic bags into composite deck boards and is now one of the largest plastic bag recyclers in the US.

Trex’s process is green from start to finish. Its proprietary processing method first cleans plastic film and grinds it into granules. These are then combined with sawdust reclaimed from factories, and the mixture is heated to give it a soft, pliable consistency. Profile dies are used to form the mixture into boards, which are cooled and cut to the desired length.

A standard, 16-foot board will use around 2,250 plastic bags, most of them the hard-to-recycle, thin-film type that is often used as sandwich bags, overwrap on kitchen rolls and as newspaper sleeves. To source the plastic, the company has set up its own nationwide recycling programme, with drop off points outside stores and in local communities and schools. Trex will also pay businesses that generate a lot of plastic waste to take the waste off their hands.  

Read more about Trex.

Photo source: Brian Yurasits on Unsplash


Tired of waiting for the government to come up with solutions to the plastic pollution problem in Kenya, Nzambi Matee decided to take matters into her own hands. The entrepreneur set up a factory, named Gjenge Makers, that recycles plastic waste into bricks stronger than concrete. The Nairobi-based factory has developed a prototype machine that is able to produce 1,500 bricks each day, made from a mix of different kinds of plastics. 

Matee collects the waste material from packaging factories for free and pays for the plastic from other recyclers. Working with a combination of high-density polyethylene used in milk and shampoo bottles, low-density polyethylene found in sandwich and cereal bags, and polypropylene used in ropes and buckets, the machine first churns the plastic waste with sand, then heats it and finally compresses it to form bricks. 

Although Matee does stay away from PET, which is found most commonly in plastic bottles, Gjenge Makers has managed to recycle more than 20 tonnes of plastic waste into paving bricks since 2017, all of which come in an array of colours. Matee also plans to add a bigger production line that could triple capacity and hopes to break even by the end of this year.

Read more about Gjenge Makers.

Photo source: HIR Studio


An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic contaminate the world’s oceans every year, adding to the 180 million tonnes that are already there. Ninety per cent of the plastic enters the oceans via rivers, including the Shin Mun River in Sha Tin, Hong Kong. In an attempt to alleviate this problem, two designers from Hong Kong-based HIR studio have created a collection of twelve benches. Looking to the Shin Mun River for inspiration, Howard Chung and Irene Cheng collected single-use plastic waste and upcycled them into stylish pieces of public furniture. The pair found that due to the lack of recycling bins and collection points, only thirteen per cent of Hong Kong’s plastics are repurposed, and plastics are often being downcycled into rubbish bags or containers, therefore only extending them by one lifecycle.

Chung and Cheng tracked down a supply of recyclable HDPE plastics, with the help of NGOs Waste No Mall and the Sha Tin Recycling Centre, which collects from public housing estates and green stations every week. The process of designing the benches involved taking 20,000 items of salvaged plastic, weighing roughly half a tonne and mixing them with virgin plastic to ensure that the furniture was strong enough to withstand plastic use. As they found that there were still too many impurities in the composition from the recycling factories in Hong Kong, the pair turned to a factory in Foshan in southern China to produce the benches. There, the Sha Tin plastic was first shredded, then melted and then squeezed from a gigantic pipe, before being pulverised into pellets and set in moulds.

Read more about HIR studio.

Written By: Holly Hamilton

This article was first published in July 2021 and updated on 06/07/2022

Spotted: Located 5km from Perth airport and 13km from the Perth CBD, the park will make use of low-carbon concrete, which has the potential to reduce emissions by up to 42 per cent, as opposed to traditional concrete, according to sustainability consultant Edge Environment.

Led by the CEFC on behalf of the Australian government, the Roe Highway Logistics Park (RHLP) will be Perth’s most sustainable industrial estate, and the first that has direct investment into decreasing embodied carbon in property construction. 

The CEFC hopes that this green investment will have a trickle-down effect on the construction industry. According to chief executive Ian Learmonth, “Importantly, the focus on low carbon construction materials at RHLP can play a critical role in influencing supply chains in the construction industry. This offers a new pathway to cut emissions from the supply chain, known as scope three emissions, and provides a world-leading example of low-carbon options for the industry.”

Moreover, not only does the complex use low-carbon concrete in construction, but it will use up to two megawatts of solar power across warehouses in order to produce clean energy and cut down on emissions. It also features many other other sector-leading sustainability measures, such as grid-friendly smart inverters, smart metering, power factor correction, voltage control, stormwater management systems and on-site water recycling. This is all being led by property developer, Hesperia.

Learmonth adds that “Exciting developments in low-carbon construction materials are giving us the chance to accelerate decarbonisation, and success in this sector will help spur Australia’s transition to a low-emissions economy”.

Written By: Holly Hamilton

Explore more: Property & Construction Innovations | Sustainability Innovations

N.B. This review contains spoilers. 

Set in a dystopian future where only three locations exist — “The City,” “The Wilderness” and the mysterious “Promised Lands” — Diane Cook sets up an apocalyptic landscape where climate change and global warming has destroyed the world in which we know, haunted by humans, their habits, and the memories of what came before.  

Told through the metaphor of a mother and child relationship, The New Wilderness is a brutal story of time running out. “The Wilderness,” described to the reader as an undefinably large stretch of natural land, is a protected space, inhabited only by animals and governed by officials in a last bid to protect what is left of the natural world, after the devastation of global warming. In the context of this, mankind has ceased to be important. Living in ‘The City’ in squalid, increasingly crowded settings, they breathe in the toxic air that is the result of years of environmental neglect. Overpopulation has made attitudes towards human life apathetic at the very least. 

This is the situation that Bea and her five-year-old daughter Agnes find themselves in at the beginning of the novel. Agnes is sick, struggling to stay alive whilst breathing in the toxic air of The City. Desperate, Bea, Agnes and Bea’s husband Glen are some of the pioneering volunteers in a new study where humans go back to a tribal state, living in The Wilderness without modern amenities, luxuries or even medicines, and with little outside influence. Through a non-linear narrative split between Bea and Agnes, we see how the volunteers, known as “the community,” become accustomed to the sounds, smells and shapes of the land; they live off the food they hunt and kill, wearing and sleeping in animal skins and warming themselves by the heat of the fire. They must fit in with the natural world completely, leaving no evidence that they are there, and living a nomadic existence.

Yet as the book develops, we begin to see that the naturalness of their situation is a façade. The group must follow the rules of “Handbook” or risk having to leave. They must check in at their different ‘posts’ and have blood samples taken to pass onto scientists. They are herded by the authoritarian “rangers,” who patrol the land, monitoring their pollution levels and obedience to the rules. 

Slowly, we see how this transition from city to nature was doomed from the start. We see how as nature prevails, humanity subsides; a casual death and a stillbirth, told with a to-the-point narrative, sets the scene for the uneasy balance between nature and mankind from the very first few pages of the book. Because although the dynamics within the community are strained and deaths common, it is the influence of the outside world that slowly causes the study to disintegrate and that something bigger is at play than the study alone. We realise that the outside forces that sustained the false version of brutal primitivity experienced by the community failed to account for human greed and subsequently, authoritarianism, and the reader is left questioning whether the way in which mankind functions has sentenced us to destruction.

This is one criticism that has been levelled at The New Wilderness: that it focuses more on the failures of environmental policy, rather than specifically on the effects of climate change itself. Government and authority figures are unsympathetic figures who are symptomatic of the authoritarian system that created the problem of climate change in the first place. We begin to sense this when we are told that a ranger takes pleasure in destroying a favourite necklace of the five-year-old Agnes, on the pretext that it is “polluting” the natural landscape. Later, a horrifying scene in which a pair of deer who have become attached to a young boy in the community are brutally shot by a ranger. Finally, this ends with the rangers telling the community that they must help to round up the thousands of City refugees who have fled to the Wildness in search of a better life, in a chilling echo of some of the issues surrounding migrant welfare today. 

The New Wildness is thus a story about growing distance. It is the distance between Wildness and City; nature and nurture; ideology and authoritarianism; survival and cruelty; mother and daughter. Agnes is protective of the land and the way of life she knows; her memories of the city are from being a sick young child, and some of the children who live amongst the community who were born there, and know nothing different, see no reason to leave. Bea, however, is plagued by memories of civilisation, of family ties to the city, and to a time gone by. As Agnes becomes less domesticated, more animal than human, Bea realises that she must get her child to safety. But she is faced with the terrifying realisation that there is no longer an obviously safe place to go; the new people entering The Wilderness tell her that The City becomes more uninhabitable as time goes on, and the “pretty houses” of old “didn’t exist anymore.” Desperate, she puts her trust in an authority figure, who ultimately cheats her and proves Cook’s point: that human greed is the catalyst of destruction, and that the government cannot be trusted to fix the environmental disaster.  

Although the issue of climate change is a backdrop, rather than at the forefront of the story, with authority and government positioned as the enemy, it would be impossible to read The New Wilderness without a haunting uneasiness. It is full of warning and uncertainty at the same time, with perspective change after perspective change. The Wilderness seems eerie when we, along with the tribe, think of it as deserted, but once we realise it is being used in a very similar way to a refugee camp, we see it for what it is: a government creation. We realise with bitter resignation at the end that the once protected Wilderness state has now been overrun by over 2,000 people, who are building and developing and irrevocably changing the land the community were once so in tune with.

Thus, although the discussion of climate change isn’t explicit, the reader understands what it is that has caused the situation that Bea and the others find themselves in. There is an intense, almost painful love for the natural world and the species within it, and few readers will have seen the way in which the community are in tune with the animals, the plants, the weather of the Wilderness, described so movingly. This is the subtext of the novel; the pain we will feel when all of it is gone, expressed and emphasised through the metaphor of the evolving, wrenching relationship between mother and daughter. And like all good dystopian fiction, this alternative future doesn’t seem too far from a possible future reality. Bea looks back at a time that doesn’t seem too different to our own with patronising benignity and the reader realises that we are running out of time. If a book about climate change makes us think about just what is at stake, then in my opinion it does what it set out to do.   

The New Wilderness was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2020.

Written By: Holly Hamilton

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Spotted: Located in Jewar, 25 miles south of Delhi, the Delhi Noida International Airport has been designed by a team comprised of architecture firms Nordic Office of Architecture, Grimshaw and Haptic and consultants STUP. The group beat out a team consisting of Gensler and Arup, and SOM and Mott McDonalds on their design of an Indian airport that aims to be entirely carbon net-zero and hold a LEED Gold standard certification.

Other sustainable features of the airport include green spaces in the airport forecourt, indoor trees and an indoor landscaped courtyard, with the natural light and ventilation properties aiming to add to the ‘green’ atmosphere.

Nordic’s founding partner, Gudmund Stokke, says that the “Delhi Noida International Airport will become […]  a truly modern, innovative and green airport, based in a region of strong historic and cultural tradition.”

Other projects planned by the team include a “sustainable city of the future”, to be built next door to the terminal.

Written By: Holly Hamilton

Explore more: Architecture & Design Innovations | Sustainability Innovations

World Ocean Day takes place on the 8th of June, but the entire month of June is an important period for ocean awareness, with the 2022 UN Ocean Conference kicking off in Lisbon on the 27th of June

The theme of World Oceans Day in 2022 was ‘Revitalisation: collective action for the ocean’. To mark the event, the United Nations has called for people to work together to create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty but instead restores its vibrancy and brings it new life.

Springwise has identified many innovations across the world that have the same ambition — to protect our oceans and our world. And many tackle one issue in particular: ocean plastic. Take a look at seven of our finest.

Photo source: The Ocean Parabolic Cleaner


A team of students at Monash University Malaysia have designed a parabolic floater to collect floating plastic debris on the surface of oceans and rivers. The Ocean Parabolic Cleaner works by pushing water currents to sail around, creating a different velocity to the current of the ocean or river and thus enabling the trapping of the plastic debris.

The device is made up of three parts. An upper part that aerodynamically fits so that it will be pressed down by the wind, decreasing its chance of toppling. The middle part has an opening towards the rear of the device to enable plastic to enter the trapping zone, with a high-density polyethylene net that helps capture microplastics.  The bottom part acts as a kneeboard to slow down its rotation and avoid losing all collected plastic debris due to random motion. 

Read more about The Ocean Parabolic Cleaner.

Photo source: Tobias Tullius on Unsplash


An app currently in development at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) determines where shoreline plastic rubbish comes from. The app is intended to be utilised primarily by clean-up crews, although it could also be used by members of the public walking along the shoreline, who will be able to use the app to photograph any plastic waste they notice and enter its GPS coordinates.

A visual database will be accessible in the app, that will identify what the object is. The app also takes into consideration factors such as prevailing currents, tides and weather patterns, so it will be able to determine the approximate oceanic route of the item that led it to end up where it did.

Read more about the tracking app.

Photo source: The SeaCleaners


The French ocean explorer and ecologist Yvan Bourgon has designed the Manta – the first factory boat developed to collect and process large quantities of floating macro-plastic waste at sea. The plastic is not only removed from the ocean in the process but is then reused as fuel for the boat.

Every minute, 17 tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans, adding up to between 9 and 12 million tons each year. According to the UN, if ambitious action is not taken, by 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic waste than fish. To combat this, Bourgon’s team have drawn up plans for a 56 metre-long boat that scoops up the waste as it moves through the water.

Read more about the Manta.

Photo source: Lenka Petráková


Plastic waste in the ocean is currently one of the world’s most severe pollution problems. In an effort to develop means of solving the problem, Slovak designer Lenka Petràkovà has designed a prototype ocean cleaning facility, which earned her the winning prize in an architectural competition for projects posing creative solutions to environmental challenges. Named the 8th Continent, Petràkovà got the idea for its name from the 1.6 million square metres of debris in the North Pacific, which she suggests could be considered the world’s eighth continent. The ocean station is conceptualised to be self-sufficient and also adapt and benefit from the ocean’s environment.

Made up of interconnected petal-shaped buildings that stand on tentacle-like platforms, these components of the 8th Continent all work together to collect plastic debris from the water surface and transform it into recyclable material. Petràkovà’s prototype also features a research and education centre that studies and showcases marine environments, a greenhouse where plants are grown through hydroponic cultivation, and living facilities for the station’s researchers. Furthermore, the buildings are able to withstand the harsh ocean conditions, as they’re built to allow wind to pass through the station, they can also collect water for irrigation and harness tidal and solar energy.

Read more about the ocean cleaning facility.

Photo source: James Dyson Award


We have been talking a lot about microplastics lately and for good reason. One study estimated there are 15 to 51 trillion particles of them floating on the surface of our oceans, and the particles have been found raining from the sky in otherwise pristine regions. In the ocean, they are eaten by fish and enter the food chain. Now, Italian product designer Matteo Brasili has developed a way for boat owners to remove the microplastics from the seas.

Dubbed “Cloud of Sea”, the device resembles the fenders used by yachts owners, to protect them from bumping into other boats. The Cloud of Sea is designed to hook onto the boat using ropes and contains a rotating, helix-shaped internal filter that captures microplastics from the water.  This filter is made of a semi-rigid membrane with holes that taper inwards, allowing micro-particles to enter, but not leave the filter.

Read more about the “Cloud of Sea”.

Photo source: PlanetCare


More people seem to be waking up to the problem of microplastics. When clothes made from synthetic fibres are washed, millions of tiny particles of plastic are released into drains, through water treatment plants and out into our rivers, lakes and oceans, where they cause great damage. A Slovenian startup, PlanetCare, has come up with a way to remove microplastics before they go down the drains.

PlanetCare has developed a filter that can be attached to a washing machine, and which can catch around 90 per cent of the fibres shed from clothes. The cartridges need to be changed monthly, and the used ones can be sent back to PlanetCare, which cleans and returns them to customers. PlanetCare has plans to recycle the microplastics it collects in the cartridges, back into the backing material used in car upholstery.

Read more about PlanetCare.

Photo source: Selina Bubendorfer on Unsplash


Chemists at the University of Cornell have developed a polymer that degrades quickly in sunlight, but that still maintains the strength of industrial-grade plastics. The aim is to provide a no-trace plastic that can reduce marine pollution and ghost fishing.

Lost or abandoned fishing gear is a major source of the pollution present in the Pacific Garbage Patch. Nets, traps, and trawls are made of industrial-grade plastics, and thus take hundreds of years to degrade, killing marine life in the process.

The new plastic, developed by Cornell University, is called isotactic polypropylene oxide, or iPPO for short. iPPO is similar to nylon-6,6 in sturdiness and its ability to maintain stability under adverse conditions. For this reason, nylon-6,6 is used in fishing nets and ropes. However, unlike nylon-6,6, iPPO can degrade under any conditions with sunlight.

Read more about the degrading polymer and other research.

Written By: Holly Hamilton

Article updated 14/06/22

Spotted: Japan has been developing programmes to help reach its 2050 decarbonisation goals. One such programme applies to the ports of Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Tokyo, where for every vessel that uses liquefied natural gas (LNG), or has dual-fuel engines running on low sulphur fuel, the entry fee to the port will be waived. 

After completing its first ship-to-ship LNG fuelling in October 2020, Japan has now commissioned its first LNG bunker ship, which will also have its fees waived. It is also expected that the new LNG-fuelled car carriers will take advantage of the programme.

For coastal vessels larger than 700 gross tons, a port entry fee is currently required, but in the new initiative, all coastal vessels meeting the criteria will have their fees waived.  

After backing research and development into hydrogen-fuelled ships, the authorities have also claimed that the fee-waiving programme will apply to ships using hydrogen fuel, including hydrogen fuel cells. Currently, there is one such ship under development. This is part of the country’s research into next-generation marine fuels, although at the moment the programme will not extend to other alternative fuels, such as ammonia. 

The initiative started on April 1st, 2021, and will run for the next five years. The Japanese government is also encouraging other ports to undertake similar zero-emission initiatives. 

Written By: Holly Hamilton

Explore more: Mobility & Transport Innovations | Sustainability Innovations

Spotted: Back in 2018, the Flagships project began a project that would see two hydrogen vessels deployed in France and Norway, after they won €5 million from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). 

The 165ft long French vessel, which is owned by inland water transport company Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT), will move goods on containers and pallets along the Seine, operating on compressed hydrogen produced from electrolysis. 

The vessel was originally planned to be a hydrogen push boat located in Lyon. Research demonstrated however that there was more potential in using hydrogen for cargo transport. Matthieu Blanc, Director of CFT (a subsidiary of the Sogestran Group) has stated that: “The demand for more sustainable technologies in inland waterway transport is on the rise. As part of the Flagships project, we are happy to be leading the way on reducing emissions from transport and demonstrating the superior features of hydrogen fuel cells in waterborne applications.”

Already in action in Belgium are the three Sogestran Group’s “Zulu” concept cargo vessels. The vessel being placed in Paris, however, will have a hydrogen power generation system, supplied by ABB Marine & Ports, with fuel cells from Ballard. The hydrogen will be provided by suppliers in the Paris region. Scheduled for September 2021, the plan is to have it running on hydrogen by the end of 2021. Two more vessels are also under construction. 

Written By: Holly Hamilton

Explore more: Mobility & Transport Innovations | Sustainability Innovations

As always, ChangeNOW, the “world’s largest event for the planet,” will bring together some of the most innovative, collaborative ideas for saving our planet from around the world — and this year, it will take place completely online.

As an official media partner, Springwise is proud to endorse the fantastic work this summit does each year, in bringing attention to some of the most innovative ideas around the world.

You can get your tickets here, but if you want a sneak peak at some of the amazing innovations and innovators attending this year, check out our snapshot of what is to come below.

Photo source: Teebike


Incubated in 2019, French startup Teebike manufactures wheels powered by an electric motor and equipped with Bluetooth, which can be easily fitted on to the front of any bike in order to convert it into an electric vehicle. 

The Teebike project came to light when Laurent Durrieu was touring China. He came across an open-air bike cemetery with thousands of unused, abandoned bikes.

The electric motor can go up to 25km/hr, with the battery lasting between 50 to 80 km depending on factors such as road conditions, the weight of the rider, level of assistance used and the weather. Teebikes can also be used as a regular bike by turning the engine off. 

Read more about Teebike, or see them at this year’s ChangeNow!

Photo source: Photo Boards on Unsplash


The ZEI platform is a platform to accelerate the development of responsible citizens and committed companies.   

According to Noël Bauza, who created the platform, the problem is not a lack of will, but of information. Thus, for those who want to reduce their ecological footprint but don’t know how to, ZEI hopes to convey no more excuses. 

Through ZEI, consumers become fully aware of the environmental impact of their lifestyle and purchases. The platform also offers eco-responsible alternatives in many areas, including food, lifestyle and well-being, fashion, energy, transport and housing. There are also articles on the blog discussing eco-responsible actions in various areas of daily life.

Read more about the ZEI platform, or see it at this year’s ChangeNow!

Photo source: Ecojoko


In France, the average household wastes 25 per cent of its electricity consumption. That’s more than €8 billion worth of electricity wasted on a national scale. This number is shocking, but perhaps more alarming is that we often don’t even realise it’s happening. Aside from our light bulbs, we don’t often witness how much electricity our devices consume, which is why the task of tracking our energy consumption is so difficult. This is where Ecojoko comes in. 

The French startup Ecojoko has created a simple-to-install energy assistant to reduce household electricity consumption by 25 per cent. Unlike other meters on the market, Ecojoko tracks consumption in real-time, using algorithms which can differentiate between devices within the home.

Since 2017, the company has been developing a sensor which, when placed on the general circuit breaker, remotely identifies any variation in the current via the input wires, and communicates this information to the energy assistant in the form of radio waves. By using artificial intelligence, Ecojoko is able to detect the particular electrical imprints of different devices. In other words, it can tell if you’re wasting energy by leaving your TV on standby, or by forgetting to put the lid on a pan of boiling water. 

Read more about Ecojoko, or see them at this year’s ChangeNow!

Photo source: Justin Sablich/Springwise


French-based company, Off the Hook (OTH), is a unisex, sustainable, trainer brand. These unique shoes have soles made from recycled, world-travelled tyres. Moreover, each pair is tattooed with GPS coordinates referring to an unusual place.

One tyre is recycled for every three pairs of shoes produced by OTH. Ethical and ecological, Off The Hook produces its shoes in a workshop in Portugal and makes its leather in a tannery in Italy, in order to limit its carbon footprint. The leather is also obtained from scrap pieces from a garden glove factory. This 100 per cent European production ensures that labour laws are respected and that certain chemicals are avoided. In short, everything is done for the well-being of the planet.

Read more about Off the Hook, or see them at this year’s ChangeNow!

Photo source: PlanetCare


More people seem to be waking up to the problem of microplastics. When clothes made from synthetic fibres are washed, millions of tiny particles of plastic are released into drains, through water treatment plants and out into our rivers, lakes and oceans, where they cause great damage. A Slovenian startup, PlanetCare, has come up with a way to remove microplastics before they go down the drains.

PlanetCare has developed a filter which can be attached to a washing machine, and which can catch around 90 per cent of the fibres shed from clothes. The cartridges need to be changed monthly, and the used ones can be sent back to PlanetCare, which cleans and returns them to customers. PlanetCare has plans to recycle the microplastics it collects in the cartridges, back into the backing material used in car upholstery.

Read more about PlanetCare, or see them at this year’s ChangeNow!

Photo source: Urban Canopee


French company, Urban Canopee, has a vision for making cities greener. The company has developed lightweight, adaptable and flexible frames, which serve as support for climbing plants — both in isolation or in groups — and to create a verdant canopy. The company hopes the easy-to-use frames will be used to grow plants on the roofs of buildings and other public spaces.

The canopies are more than just flexible pots. The frames contain sensors that measure the hydration levels of the plants and the temperature under the canopy, and they can be monitored remotely using an app. The system also includes a solar kit and a connected irrigation system, which provides water to the plants autonomously. The pots currently hold 200 litres of water, and the company is also exploring ways to collect rainwater. 

Read more about Urban Canopee, or see them at this year’s ChangeNow!

Photo source: Meal Canteen


The aim of the Meal Canteen app is to reduce food waste. Through the app, users are able to book meals in advance of attendance. This allows catering staff at restaurants and schools to plan the amount of food they need in advance, ensuring a reduction in their food waste. 

The app also provides information on where products originate, how they were made and what allergies they may contain. The long-term thinking with this approach is that by giving consumers more information about the food they eat, their eating habits can be redesigned to choose only the food they will finish, thus reducing food waste.  

Read more about the Meal Canteen app, or see them at this year’s ChangeNow!

Written By: Holly Hamilton