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Zero Microplastics Challenge 2020

The purpose of the innovation competition is to contribute to a faster reduction of microplastics emissions from textile washing. The competition will accelerate the market introduction of filter solutions with the aim of paving the way for criteria for microplastics emissions in the Ecodesign Directive for washing machines and filter solutions.

The project is an international innovation competition - Zero Microplastics Challenge 2020 - which aims to significantly reduce emissions of microplastics from textile washing before the effects of the renewed Eco-design directive hit the market and society. The competition is expected to stimulate players to accelerate the development of market-based solutions to help achieve SDG6 and 14 without sacrificing other sustainability goals such as SDG 13 to combat climate change.

The Challenge is aimed directly at both established players in textile laundry industry and also various players that can contribute with innovative ideas and concepts such as startups.

Listen to Axel Nekham from Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Axel Nekham explain why the Swedish EPA decided to initiate this contest and why now, Please click here to listen to the interview


We have today three Teams to celibrate

Today Thursday 16´th of December 2020 we had the Final Event. The event started with presentations from the different Teams in the two categories “Proven Solution” and “Promising Concept”. After the presentations the Jury presented the result of the challenge by awarding Diplomas for “proven solution” and “promising concept according to the rules.

In the Product Category following Team was awarded as "proven solution":

Team PlanetCare

Motivation from the Jury: Team PlanetCare whichhasachieved the best technical functionfor removing microfibersalong with the lowest environmental impact, hadalowweightof fibersleft in theoutlet waterafter the separator together with a confirmed low amount of fibres from the microscopy analyses. In the environmental part the team hasdesignedthe solution in such a way that the importanceof keeping the fibers from the natural environment isclearlydemonstrated andthe retention is alsoassured.Furthermore,this design facilitates the possibilities for refurbishing and recycling due to a closed loop.The useof plastic has a lower general environmental impact compared to other materials such as steel.Theteam also proved good results in the remaining PESTLE categories.


In the Concept Category following Team was awarded as "promising concept":

Team NanoClean and Team VortexInnovators

Motivation from the Jury: The evaluation of the teams in the concept category has been slightly different compared to the “Proven Solution” category. As was the casewiththe “Proven Solution” a PESTLE analysis has been performed based on the information that was submitted before deadline. However,due to early phases in development and lack of specificinformation,the aspects could not be as thoroughly assessed for the concepts. Therefore, the evaluation team’s assessment of the technical function was consideredthe most important factor.Expertise from IVL and RISE assessed the probability ofgooddesign for microplastics separationbased on the information provided. The concepts considered to have the highest potential in this context are therefore the teams whose solutions are predicted to be a suitable way of removing microplastics even though the technology might not be fully developed yet.  Thereby team VortexInnovator and team NanoClean are considered the most promising concepts in this concept category of the contest. However, there are still challenges and room for development for both of these concepts. One important note is the need for testing so that the microfibers are not fragmented when they are collected, and that nanoparticles are not released in the process. 

Stages and timeline 

2020-09-21 Start of submittal of Entries (initial Solutions and Teams)

2020-10-18 Screening of Entries starts and last date to send in solutions 

2020-10-29 Virtual Kick-off  1  PM to 4 PM

2020-11-04 Virtual WS #1 Business models in transformation, 1 PM to 5 PM

2020-11-18 Virtual WS #2 Towards reductions of Microplastics 9 AM to 5 PM

2020-11-23 Last date to submit the physical part of the solution and final evaluation starts

2020-12-16 Final Event 1 PM to 4 PM (Sweden time) and the Period of "beyond of contest" starts

January 2021 Period of "beyond of contest"


Approved Teams to the Challenge

Following Teams are approved and has accepted to become a "Participating Entries" according to the rules. Congratulations!

There are 9 teams from 4 different countries.


Team PlanetCare from PlanetCare d.o.o


Contact person: Mojca Zupan,, +386 41 362 613


Team NanoClean from CombiPro AS

Contact person: Finn Aarseth, Phone: +4741318962


Team The voortex innovators from InnoVort

Contact person: Curt Hallberg, , Phone: +46 733 670172


Team Pandora from Pandora Filter AB


Contact person: Tim Bergman,  Phone: +46 (0) 700 94 65 78

Other: Country Sweden


Team SurfCleaner™ from SurfCleaner AB


Contact person: Mikael Andersson,, phone +46 (0) 70 5152600

Other: SurfCleaner designs, develops and manufactures skimmer separator hybrids for 100% removal, separation and recovery of oil, diesel, petrol, sludge, foam, plastics, debris and more from water surfaces. 


Team Mimbly from Mimbly


 Contact person: Robin Griffiths,, +46702911009

Other: Mimbly is a swedish cleantech company that has created The Mimbox. The product can help save up to 70% water, reduce energy by 30% and filter out microplastics. By retrofitting to professional washing machines our customers are able to upgrade their laundry rooms to a modern and sustainable version.


Team Common from Clean AS


Contact person: Camilla Coward,, +47 98078590

Other: Common develops concepts and services for future sustainable neighborhoods. With our first concept "Common Vask" we aim to reduce negative environmental consequences from laundry. Laundry harms nature and marine life by emitting chemicals and microfibres. Research suggests that synthetic textile fibres may be the main cause of primary microplastics in the oceans.

The "Common Vask" pilot will take place in OBOS Living Lab in Oslo 2021-22 in partnership with OBOS.


Team fibrewitch from terryball concepts

Contact person:

Other: The Fibrewitch household retro filter design casts some novel alchemy toward the wicked problem of ecological textile microfibre accumulation… evolving in a bubbling cauldron and eternally powered by empathy for the microcosmos. Status: The FW01 is a transparent & pragmatic end-user empowering device driven by circular, social equity design values.  Currently it’s moving towards  TRL6/7 phase while executing some fresh new spells to help predict and improve  performance variations going forward. The FW01 design concept has been demonstrated with potential to accumulate fibres effectively, and discussions are currently invited regarding further independent testing opportunities, standards development or simplified comparative testing methodologies. Potential positive synergies with in-drum fibre reduction devices is also an area for future exploration as the FW01 promises to be a pragmatic and affordable self-service unit for owners of such existing or emerging devices. On the short term, a forward looking manifesto is being drawn up and as the stars align a careful selection of fibre-fairy’s shall be invited to pre-test for any end-user turbulence… ensuring the first fibres settle in an orderly fashion.


Team Aqua-Q from Aqua-Q AB

Contact person: Sudhir Chowdhury,


Contact Persons for the Challenge

Project management: Johan Östling,, +46 (0) 733 277 662

Responsible Evaluation: Anna Liljenroth,, +46 (0) 72 455 51 25

Responsible Workshops and events: Siri Jagstedt,, +46 (0) 73 086 24 88

Responsible Period of "beyond of contest": Ludvig Lindlöf,, +46 (0) 76 807 47 94



                    The Jury   


Chairman of the Jury

Dr Anna Rotander, Researcher at Örebro University

With a PhD from Örebro University in 2011 focused on halogenated substances in Arctic marine mammals, and a 2-year postdoc at the University of Queensland, Australia, studying human exposure to highly fluorinated chemicals, Anna has a broad background in the field of environmental contaminants. Since 2016 she has dedicated her research to microplastics and carried out several projects aimed at increasing the knowledge of their occurrence, sources, and environmental distribution. At present Anna is working in the EU project RESPONSE that integrates expertise on oceanography, environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, experimental ecology and modelling to answer key research questions on fate and impact of marine microplastics and nanoplastics. She is also doing a survey of microplastics in sediments from Sweden’s Great Lakes.


Ms Lena Stig, Sustainable plastic use at Swedish EPA

With an MSc in Organic Chemistry, Lena has been working in R&D for more than 12 years, mainly with biochemistry and polymer chemistry in the private sector. For nearly as long she been working in the public sector focusing on stimulating both demand and production of non-toxic products. One of the tasks has been conducting environmental assessments of products. Lena was the project manager of the Life+ project PVCfreeBloodBag. Now she is working at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency with sustainable plastic use. She has been involved in SEPA’s government commission in finding measures to reduce release of microplastics from textiles. Among other actions, she has been part of the management of an innovation competition run by the research programme RE:Source.

Dr. Aleš Mihelič, Head of pre-development of R&D Laundry Care Competence Centre

Dr. Aleš Mihelič has been the President of the Management Board of TECOS (Technology Center of the Slovenian Tool Industry), Chairman of the Board of National Chemistry Institute, Chairman of the Board of the Technology Agency of Slovenia - TIA, representative of Slovenia in the "High level group" in the EUREKA program, the representative of Slovenia in the EU Framework Programs for Research and Technological Development, a member of the working group for drafting the Slovenian Research and Development Strategy, etc. For almost eight years he has also been the vice-president of the Slovenian Mechanical Engineers Association. Since 2013 he has been working in Gorenje in the field of research and development of washing machines as the leader of pre-development activities. In Gorenje he runs several national and international projects in the field of circular economy within the framework of the Eurostars and H2020..

Mr Harmen Spek, Manager Innovations & Solutions at Plastic Soup Foundation

With a commercial background in Media & Design, Harmen developed a great passion for materials and production. However, the start of his work at the Plastic Soup Foundation made him extremely critical about the consequences of the often cheapest and most commonly used material: plastic. As  Manager Innovations & Solutions, Harmen is trying to convince companies to change their systemic approach to the use of materials, because in the production, conversion, use and end-of-life phase the 'leakage' consequences of plastic are considerable. As an expert on a wide range of plastic related subjects, Harmen is involved in the many projects carried out by the Plastic Soup Foundation, with themes such as: microplastics, macroplastics, health, production and recycling, and shortcomings of norms or standards that do not take into account the consequences of plastic production and use (like Life Cycle Assessments). The development of a Plastic Soup Footprint for companies and his webpage with solutions, are momentarily two of his leading projects. Harmen has been working on the consequences of fiber loss from clothing and apparel since 2012.

Please listen to Mr. Harmen Spek during his TedX-presentation where he talks about a lot of interesting plastic issues.



Rules of the Challenge rev 20201210

Final Report (pdf, 1.36 MB)


Project name

Zero Microplastics Challenge 2020




Västra Götaland Region

RISE role in project


Project start




IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Project members from IVL, Elin Eriksson, Lisbeth Dahllöf, Sara Sköld, Anna Liljenroth, Per Harrie, Louise Hwargård, Kerstin Magnusson, Siri Willskytt, Christian Baresel, Tobias Nielsen


Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Project members

Supports the UN sustainability goals

6. Clean water and sanitation
Johan Östling

Contact person

Johan Östling

Senior Project Manager

+46 73 327 76 62

Read more about Johan

Contact Johan
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