DEEP – Microplastic Challenge was organised in Terkko Health Hub at the turn of November and December. The weekend culminated in the finale 1.12, when teams pitched their ideas for preventing microplastics from entering the Baltic Sea.

 DEEP presented a challenge to the participants: to develop innovations to protect the Baltic sea from microplastic pollution. The intensive weekend long hackathon was organised by FanpLESStic-sea project, Natural Research Institute Finland (Luke), and Helsinki Think Company. The solutions created by the participants were presented to the expert jury: leading researcher Outi Setälä (SYKE), research professor Hannu Ilvesniemi (Luke) and Head of Startups Jarkko Nissinen (Startuplifters, Helsinki Think Company alumni).DEEP was organized for the third time, this time focusing specifically on microplastic littering. The event brought together people from various backgrounds. The expertise of the participants varied from microbiology and engineering to design and marketing. Multidisciplinarity was also visible in the diversity of the solutions.

A new kind of filter for washing machines took the first place in the tight competition

Out of the 7 teams, Green Wash was the winner of the challenge. They focused on plastic fibres that detach from clothes during washing. Their solution is a filter that clears the water from microplastics and can be attached to any washing machine. The judges were especially impressed by how concrete and ready for market the team’s solution was.

Green Wash was very excited about their win. “We feel amazing! Now we have a starting point to really make this happen”, Ingy Hamdy, a member of the team hyped. “We managed to come up with the solution – now the work really begins”, Teemu Mustasaari added. The team was granted a prize of 1000 euros and the opportunity to develop their solution further with experts from Luke.

Microplastic pollution from stormwater and car tires were pivotal themes in the challenge

Green Wash wasn’t the only team with an idea of a new microplastic filter: a couple of the teams focused on cleaning the snow and stormwater from microplastics with different filters. For example, Team Mycelium’s solution is a mycelium filter discharge unit that captures microplastic particles from unfiltered stormwater. The idea is that the particles are then removed and digested by the mycelium to break them down into recyclable byproducts. The judges were impressed by the creativity of the team, and they came in third in the competition.

One of the biggest sources of microplastics, car tires, was also taken into account in the challenge. The runner up team EcoMeter pointed out that poor driving behaviour increases the amount of microplastics that breaks away from car tires. Their solution is to nudge people to drive more sustainably by using a meter that shows the effects of their driving behaviour. The jury praised EcoMeter for the solution’s potential and the team’s well thought game plan.During the weekend, many great ideas were created. Hopefully, the teams keep working on their solutions. The participants got many valuable contacts and can seek support from Helsinki Think Company and Luke in the future. We hope to hear from the teams and are excited to see what the future will bring!

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Text: Tuuli Hongisto

Photos: Jonas Simberg