The UK startups making sustainability their mission

The current COP26 summit is finally pulling focus towards re-stabilising the Earth’s eco-system, but you may be wondering what fighting the climate crisis will actually look like moving forward.

Up-and-coming research and development (R&D) projects within the CleanTech sector offer a glimpse of the technology that must become integrated into society in order to reframe the future with sustainability in mind.


In this blog, we’ve put together a list of five incredible startups offering innovative environmental solutions to pressing climate issues such as plastic pollution, carbon emissions and wildlife endangerment.

1. Tooth.Eco

Fighting: Plastic pollution


Problem

Over 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes are produced worldwide every year. 99% of these brushes are not biodegradable, and if not in use, still exist in a landfill or somewhere in the ocean. Bamboo brushes as the eco-friendly solution may be flawed, as they’re not built to last – making them inherently unsustainable.


Solution

Tooth.Eco’s toothbrush was designed to combine beauty and durability in the aim that customers keep their brushes for life.

Acknowledging that brush heads need to be updated, Tooth.Eco heads are interchangeable and made from bio-degradable plant-based plastic. Better yet, every inch of the toothbrush is made from recycled materials, from the BPA-free nylon used in the bristles, to the handle made from 100% recycled aluminium.

Tooth.Eco offers a subscription service so that customers can build a plan and choose how often they receive a new brush head, with the option to modify or pause your subscription at any time.



2. Pavegen

Fighting: Global warming emissions


Problem

Traditional fossil fuel energy sources contribute significantly to global warming emissions and are acknowledged as dominant contributors to the climate crisis. Though an increasing proportion of the world’s population now accept that climate change needs addressing, many citizens struggle with the motivation to make real sustainable change.


Solution

In the aim of facilitating clean, off-grid electricity through the movement of people, Laurence Kemball-Cook created Pavegen - a revolutionary kinetic floor tile that, through every footstep, generates 2-5 Joules of clean energy.

Despite sounding futuristic, Pavegen’s underfoot generators have outgrown Laurence’s Brixton bedroom and already feature in 200 projects in 37 different countries, from the Quayside Exercise Track in Hong Kong to a Lidl supermarket in Barcelona.


Generating more than just energy, Pavegen’s technology has stirred up excitement from the public by allowing them to physically interact with sustainability.

Pavegen believes that a core requisite of stabilising our climate is incentivising a community-wide behaviour shift. The direct reward of energy offered to Pavegen users, in exchange for movement, helps to encourage a more proactive perspective on eco-friendly energy alternatives.

3. Aquaco

Fighting: Water wastage


Problem

Menial processes such as flushing toilets, for example, use a lot of water - sometimes 6-10 litres per flush. Water is the world’s most valuable natural resource. And wasting too much of it threatens the environment by draining usable water away from the natural ecosystem.


Solution

Aquaco’s mission is to simplify and streamline water recycling, helping its users save money, water, and ultimately, the planet.

Aquaco’s technology focuses on reducing water wastage through both grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting – naturally adding the incentive of significantly lowering users’ water bills!

Repurposing grey water to flush toilets is an innovative solution that helps to limit the unnecessary usage of clean water. Rainwater harvesting captures, filters and stores rainfall from the roofs of buildings to contribute towards laundry, irrigation, cleaning, and much more.


Having worked with some of the world’s biggest brands to provide global-scale solutions, Acquaco more recently made their technology available for domestic use. Aquaco’s team of experienced engineers provide a full turn-key solution from design, consultancy and manufacture, all the way through to installation.

4. Kabloom

Fighting: Plantlife eradication / wildlife endangerment


Problem

Inner-city areas often neglect plantlife and overlook the value of sustaining nature, enabling over-urbanisation and mass deforestation. Species of wildlife are diminishing at an alarming rate, and the population’s connection with nature is set to wilt away.


Solution

As a product of the eco-friendly design company, Kabloom, Darren Wilson created the Seedbom – a mix of organic seeds in the shape of a compostable grenade.

Inspired by the (often too distant) relationship between nature and the urban environment, the Seebom is made of 100% compostable materials and contains various combinations of organic seeds, including wildflowers and herbs.

The Seedbom grenade works by being soaked in water and thrown anywhere in a rural or urban outdoor environment. As if by magic, a unique plant will grow on the spot, with no trace of the bio-degradable grenade left behind.

A charming feature of the Seedbom is that each grenade serves a purpose, aside from enhancing plantlife. The Seedbom’s contents were designed to sustain bee and butterfly populations through growing nectar-rich wildflowers.

Darren encourages users to plant their Seedboms in neglected public areas, where wildlife could benefit from an explosion of nature.

5. Small Robot Co.

Fighting: Unsustainable farming


Problem

Agriculture is the leading source of pollution in many countries. Air, soil, freshwater and marine ecosystems are all negatively affected by toxic farming chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers.

Not only that, many farming practices, such using machinery powered by fossil fuels, are significant contributors to the build-up of greenhouse gas emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere.


Solution

Small Robot Company is reimagining farming to make food production sustainable. By using robotics and artificial intelligence, Small Robot Co. have created an entirely new model for ecologically harmonious, efficient, and profitable farming.

This model, executed by three robots named Tom, Dick and Harry, is known as ‘Per Plant farming’.

Per Plant farming is a more sustainable solution, making agriculture kinder to soil through non-chemical weeding, kinder to the environment through net-zero production, more efficient, more precise and more productive.

It’s the best of all worlds. An increased yield, less damage to valuable plant life, with the incentive of boosting potential profits for farmers.

Each one of these startups (as well as the many that didn’t make this list) are determined to solve an imminent issue threatening the welfare of our planet. The research and development taken place here is nothing short of heroic, and thankfully, more VC and government funding is being distributed to the CleanTech sector.


Let’s hope that when COP26 draws to a close, this momentum only continues.