Ri­coh Mega Ef­fi­ciency In­no­va­tion Award Win­ner

Element - - Sustainable Businesses -

Win­ner: Wish­bone De­sign Stu­dio

Build­ing a bi­cy­cle made from re­cy­cled ny­lon car­pets has won Wish­bone De­sign Stu­dio the Ri­coh Mega ef­fi­ciency in­no­va­tion award.

The com­pany started by Jen­nifer McIver and Richard Latham has been go­ing for sev­eral years making a threein-one bike that grows with the child – a bal­ance bike that first teaches them to walk, then to bal­ance, then with the ad­di­tion of a kit­set for their first pedal bike.

They were sell­ing about 10,000 of the ply­wood version around the world a year, but some mar­kets were re­sis­tant, typ­i­cally those with harsh cli­matic con­di­tions such as be­ing too wet or too dry.

“We also wanted to ex­pand into the bike sec­tor in the United States, where they see wooden bikes as a toy,” McIver says.

Tra­di­tional ma­te­ri­als like steel, alu­minium and car­bon failed the sus­tain­abil­ity test, so they tried al­ter­na­tives.

A UK com­pany of­fered re­cy­cled alu­minium and plas­tic baby food pouches, but 18 months of re­search and de­vel­op­ment de­ter­mined the ma­te­rial wasn’t ro­bust enough.

By that stage they had de­signed an in­jec­tion-moulded frame, so re­sumed their search for a post-con­sumer re­cy­cled ma­te­rial.

They found it in a US com­pany turn­ing car­pets into sheets of PCR ny­lon and PCR polypropy­lene for car parts.

“It took 10 years to de­velop the ma­te­rial for the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try, so it was a great find for us be­cause all the work we had been do­ing in the baby food pouches had been done by much big­ger com­pa­nies,” she says.

Wish­bone has been get­ting the ma­te­rial shipped to its fac­to­ries in Asia, but is ne­go­ti­at­ing with a US man­u­fac­turer to shift pro­duc­tion there once sales reach crit­i­cal mass.

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