Hoola One Technologies (Quebec)

Designing machines to remove plastics from beaches

Jean-Félix cleaning a beach of plastic waste with a specialized machine.

Jean-Félix Tremblay, Science Horizons intern, cleaning a beach of plastic waste. Photo credit: Hoola One Technologies.

Science Horizons wage subsidies have proved critical for the pace of product development at Quebec City’s Hoola One Technologies, says Jean-David Lantagne, the start-up’s Chief Officer.

Incorporated in 2019, the company designs machines to separate and remove micro-plastics from plastic-polluted environments such as beaches and industrial lots. The award-winning technology began as a Université de Sherbrooke mechanical-engineering project that was first demonstrated on Kamilo Point, a plastics-strewn beach in Hawaii.

“The main benefit of these internships is to be able to go very quickly because we are able to hire more people,” says Lantagne. “Because we don’t have a lot of funds, programs that help us hire people are everything.”

The company has hired several engineering graduates with the support of ECO Canada and the United Nations Association in Canada and financed by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Science Horizons Youth Internship Program.

One was Jean-Félix Tremblay, now Hoola One’s Chief Technology Officer, hired in 2019 to design a more efficient version of the plastics-separating machine than the Hawaii version. The new machine was shown in Houston, Texas, last summer with the support of the Québec government.

“Plastics are killing millions of birds, fish and other marine animals each year,” says Tremblay, who was on the Université de Sherbrooke team and has volunteered in the past for humanitarian organizations. “That waste is also finding its way into our food chain,” he says. “It’s ironic that we are trying to fix a problem that we, as humans, created.”

Jean-Félix cleaning a beach of plastic waste with a specialized machine.

Jean-Félix Tremblay, Science Horizons intern, cleaning a beach of plastic waste. Photo credit: Hoola One Technologies.

Finding technological solutions for waste plastics was inspired in part by a 2016 Netflix documentary “A Plastic Ocean.” The film explored the grave consequences of plastic pollution worldwide, identifying Kamilo Point as one of the most polluted beaches in the world. The company name pays homage to the work in Hawaii. “Hoola One” means “Saviour of the Sand” in Hawaiian.

The engineering students worked with the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund (HWF) which has collected tonnes of plastic waste from Kamilo Point over the years. The demonstration of their machine attracted considerable media attention and the students donated the US$50,000 machine to HWF. Still in use, the machine vacuums sand and plastics from the beach, removes the plastics and returns cleaned sand to the beach.

The company is developing a range of products. “We want to put in place four technologies to respond to a large range of needs from our clients,” says Lantagne, who has worked on the project since its inception. Two new products will be ready to sell in 2022, he says.


Jean-Félix Tremblay, Science Horizons intern at Hoola One Technologies. Photo credit: Hoola One Technologies.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourist industry resulted in the loss of some clients, so the company has geared its marketing towards a broader range of purchasers. For example, it is working with plastic pellet manufacturers and the transportation industry to find ways to reduce plastic waste at the source.

“To achieve the highest impact, we are going to the source of the problem,” says Lantagne. Various levels of government and philanthropic organizations are also interested in the technology.

Hoola One looks for employees with initiative and the ability to work independently, Lantagne says. They also need motivation. “We learned that if the intern is motivated by the project it goes much faster,” he says.

Tremblay has ensured that the projects are on time and within budget. “He is able to put a team in place, respect the budget and timing, and to motivate everyone,” says Lantagne. “He is very meticulous. Nothing is left to chance.”

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: