Ricoh Mega Efficiency Innovation Award Winner
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.