Home Finance & Investments Pioneering entrepreneur launches ventures to help protect the planet

Pioneering entrepreneur launches ventures to help protect the planet

David Oates, founder of The Clever Carbon Company

A pioneering entrepreneur has launched a series of ventures aimed at helping protect the planet by improving the sustainable practices of businesses and individuals.

David Oates, 45, has established The Clever Carbon Company, based in Worsley, Greater Manchester, with a mission to bring about change by rethinking the way that products are designed, made, used and decommissioned at their end of life.

He already runs a consultancy business called Mouthful, focused on advising the hospitality sector on strategy and growth opportunities. He is also a sessional lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University.

Previously, he had a varied career including roles as a manager in the strategy team at professional services giant KPMG and later as head of strategy at LateRooms.


He has a master’s degree in materials science from the University of Sheffield, an MBA from Leeds University Business School, and is a fellow of the Strategic Planning Society.
David has received support for The Clever Carbon Company from the GC Business Growth Hub, and funding from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and British Business Bank.

He has also been collaborating with the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford on research and development projects linked to aspects such as materials science, rapid prototyping, innovation and digital enablement.
Through a blend of product and service design and using innovative technologies, The Clever Carbon Company explores and identifies solutions in industries such as consumer products and clothing, which are currently the largest contributors to landfill.

The first priority area for The Clever Carbon Company is tackling the impact of single-use materials in the personal care industry.

This has led to NeuTrail, a novel refillable dispenser for personal care products such as shampoo or handwash. Using circular design, it is made from a single, recycled material, which makes the product easier to recycle repeatedly, and it has a simple, gravity-fed design. which makes it easier to use, even for people with mobility issues.

NeuTrail is being manufactured with short UK-based supply chains via 3D-print technology, meaning each dispenser can be personalised. The range has already gained listings in a number of catalogues offering sustainable consumer products.

David’s second priority area is clothing and textiles. The Clever Carbon Company is developing solutions for high-demand, non-discretionary clothing, such as uniforms and workwear, through a venture named Cottonopoly.

Partnering with UK manufacturers, Cottonopoly supplies cotton or polycotton garments, initially school cardigans and sweaters.
Parents pay a deposit on each garment, which is then refunded when the item is returned after use. Returns then have an extended life as either pre-loved clothing or by being recycled into products of similar quality.
Cottonopoly has been conducting a trial of the takeback scheme at St Mark’s Church of England Primary School in Worsley and plans to roll out in other parts of the UK later this year.

Father-of-two David said: “We’re providing affordable, sustainable clothing and are incentivising parents to return items they no longer need so they can be renewed, re-used or recycled.

“Having young children, I am fully aware how many garments families can get through, and how they eventually end up being discarded.

“Every year, millions of school garments end up in landfill sites or are incinerated, both of which are very bad for the environment and are quite avoidable.

“Cottonopoly puts an end to single-life clothing, offering high quality and affordable products that can be easily and efficiently repurposed or recycled with negligible waste. Our mission is to reduce the impact of clothing on the planet, as well as on household purse strings.

“We’re collaborating with local mills, reducing the need for transportation. Anything can be sourced cheaply overseas, but the traditional UK textile heartlands are the perfect place to establish short, UK-based supply chains, which will be an essential part of tackling demanding environmental targets.

“Manchester and the surrounding area have deservedly been considered a hub of innovation ever since the Spinning Jenny and Spinning Mule effectively triggered the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th Century. At Cottonopoly we are continuing this tradition with a 21st century twist that puts consumers at its heart.”

David is looking to expand Cottonopoly to include other school uniform overgarments such as trousers and shirts, as well as workwear and potentially leisurewear. Customers will be able to buy items online via the company’s website or its app.

He is also separately selling the technology incorporated into NeuTrail and Cottonopoly under the brand name Scan&.

“NeuTrail and Cottonopoly are both underpinned by the same traceable takeback technology which keeps track of every product we make, including what it’s made from, who uses it and when it’s time to ultimately repair, re-use or recycle it,” he said.
“We use circular-design and traceable takeback technology to provide products that last longer and don’t end up being discarded, thereby inspiring people to become more conscious consumers.

“Our technology tracks all our products through their entire lifecycle, which makes returning them effortless. Users are better able to keep track of what they buy and are directly rewarded for returning the items at their end of life.

“If society is to meet challenging climate targets in the years to come, this circular way of thinking about products will need to become more commonplace, which is where The Clever Carbon Company comes in.

“Currently the sustainability landscape is confusing to both businesses and members of the public. The Clever Carbon Company is all about making sustainable practice more accessible and practical.”