Carpet may not be in style anymore, but it does serve at least one purpose: warming up a floor. And now, thanks to a New Zealand company that has found a way to turn old carpet into children’s bicycles, it can also serve another purpose after it’s been torn out and thrown away.
Because it’s bulky and loaded with lots of different materials, carpeting is hard to recycle. But it also takes up lots of space inside a landfill. What to do? Jenny and Rich McIver who run Wishbone Design out of Wellington, NZ considered the problem and came up with a solution that includes technology to turn carpet into strong tubular shapes needed to make a bicycle.
“The nylon carpet fibers are shaved from the backing,” explains McIver in the Guardian. “Then both the nylon fiber and polypropylene backing are separately recycled via a proprietary process, which shreds, cleans and heats the raw material into liquid form. We add glass fiber for strength and rigidity.”
The resulting engineered resin pellets can be injection-molded into strong organic forms. “But we don’t stop there,” says McIver. “This is the first bicycle ever to be made using gas-assisted injection molding, which allows us to create complex, single-piece tubular forms that achieve very high strength and rigidity.”
And the recycled edition of the Wishbone children’s bicycle is expandable, so it grows with a child and stays out of a landfill even longer; hopefully forever if the bike is passed down to someone else. Jenny McIver believes in the technology and believes that it will have many uses in the future. “We’re also designing a larger recycled bike,” she says. “Cycling is a lifestyle choice for the future. It’s a real joy creating truly innovative designs for such a passionate and growing community.”
Photos by Wishbone Design