Photo of Arturo Navarro

Energy & sustainability

Arturo Navarro

Water filters that prevent microplastics from synthetic laundry from contaminating ecosystems.

Year Honored


Latin America

Hails From

When you think of plastic pollution, you probably visualize a bottle or bag floating in the ocean and a turtle mistaking it for a jellyfish. Most of the plastic trash in seas and oceans is in the form of microplastics, fragments smaller than 5 mm, according to Greenpeace. And it comes not so much from throwaway plastics but from our clothes: 80% of the microplastics in the seas and oceans are microfibers that come from the manufacture, washing and use of synthetic clothing. A problem that not only affects marine life, but also humans as it is found in 90% of bottled water and 80% of tap water. 

Through his start-up, Micrastic, Mexican industrial engineer Arturo Navarro has devised a microplastic filtration system that is installed in the drain of washing machines and accelerates the degradation of these polymers to prevent water pollution. For this solution to an environmental problem, Navarro has been named one of MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2022 in Spanish. 

Micrastic prevents synthetic fibers from clothing from reaching the wastewater system. Navarro details, "Treatment plants fail to stop these particles, they reach oceans and rivers and through the food chain affect our health. Our filter captures particles of up to 5 microns and passes them to another compartment where their natural degradation process is accelerated from hundreds of years to days." The young man assures that he manages to prevent 99% of the microfibers from going into the water and that Micrastic differs from other filters in the rapid degradation process integrated into the product. 

Mexican laundries are Micrastic's first customer. Navarro is looking to scale up to directly sell its microplastic degrading filter to be incorporated into the washing machines that are already in homes and that we use on a regular basis. The innovator hopes that the washing machines of the future will come with Micrastic's filter incorporated at the factory. This would prevent about 6 grams of microplastics, the equivalent of about 700,000 synthetic fibers, from going down the drain in each wash cycle.