2016 New Zealand Innovation Awards Innovation in Sustainability & Cleantech: Stormwater360

The winner of the Innovation in Sustainability & Cleantech award is... Stormwater360!

Our waste is seeping into our waterways, and it’s killing both us and the creatures that live in the water.

This is not exactly a new problem, nor are efforts to do something about it, but Auckland-based Stormwater360 is tackling the issue with a new product that, it believes, could be a game-changer in saving us from ourselves.

The LittaTrap is a catchpit filter designed to be easily inserted underneath new and existing storm water drains. A wire mesh attached to brackets, it collects plastic, litter and other large pieces of rubbish, while letting water flow through. When a LittaTrap is full, it can easily be lifted out of a drain and emptied.

“The litter issue is a massive one,” explains Greg Yeoman, who cofounded Stormwater360 in 1996 with Mike Hannah. “It’s a global problem.”

The LittaTrap is a disruptive innovation because of its simplicity and affordability, he says. “It’s affordable, and it gives people some control over this escalating issue.”

The LittaTrap builds off the EnviroPod, another product developed by Stormwater360, that also collects rubbish in drains. Although only a few units have been sold so far, Yeoman says a recent business trip to Canada and the United States could potentially result in international opportunities. Winning the Innovation Awards could also help get the word out, he says. “It’s quite an honour. It’s great people are realising [water pollution] is an issue. There seems to be a lot more awareness of it. This is really important technology.”

Several dozen LittaTraps are currently in use in New Zealand, but ideally, Yeoman says he would like every town and city to use it, so that oceans and other waterways can remain pristine – or at least aren’t harmed any further by humans. Although he admits the LittaTrap isn’t the most technologically dazzling innovation, he says it doesn’t need to be because of the importance of the problem it solves. “It’s a simple solution to a simple problem,” he says. “But sometimes the simple solutions are the best ones.”

Evaluator's comments:

Great idea. I especially like the fact that the product is light, cheap and easily transportable which are all key attributes as you develop your export market. Best of all, LittaTrap protects our pristine oceans from waste, meaning consideration could be given to offshore licensing manufacturing agreements.

This story first ran in Idealog 63.