April 17, 2024

Ned Heaton, the 15-year-old founder of an eco-toothbrush company The Turtle Tribe, has been named Australia’s Teen Entrepreneur of the Year for his mission to save the oceans from plastic pollution. 
As part of Spark Festival ā€“ a not-for-profit event for startups and innovators ā€“ finalists for the Teens in Business Awards were invited to pitch their ideas in front of their peers and a panel of judges.
The panel highlighted Heaton’s “impressive business model providing a tangible solution to a major world problem”,  recognising him with the Most Impactful Teen Business Award.
Heaton founded the company at the age of 11 after witnessing the problem of plastics first-hand during yearly family camping trips on Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) and decided to take action. 
“Plastic toothbrushes last for several hundred years in the marine environment, and every one you’ve ever used is still in the world somewhere,” explained Heaton. 
“The crazy thing is, there’s no need to make them out of plastic. Bamboo toothbrushes work the same but biodegrade when you finish with them.”
The company has a factory in China where it manufactures the brushes designed by Heaton. The young founder claims that his bamboo toothbrushes are the “best in the market”. 
He added that the company uses panda-friendly Moso Bamboo, a variety that is not part of the bears’ diet. 
“It’s the bamboo famous for growing up to a metre per day, so it’s the ultimate renewable resource,” said Heaton. 
Aside from using sustainable bamboo, the company is also partnered with carbon-offsetting charity Greenfleet, which manages tree planting and forest restoration in the country. 
“I’m honoured to receive this award and hope it shines a light on the issue of ocean plastics and the urgent need for us all to reduce our plastic waste,” remarked Heaton.
“Scientists predict that by 2050 there’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish, and we can’t let that happen. We have to change. We have to use less plastic.”
The Teens in Business Awards is a joint initiative between Young Change Agents and BOP Industries. It aims to celebrate and amplify young people’s creativity, passion, and interests as they try to create positive change in their communities. 
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