Recycled ocean plastics to make Bicycle mudguards – The story so far…
Ecotribo is excited about our OceanX recycled ocean plastics project with Rideguard. We will be making the worlds first bicycle mudguards made from recycled fishing nets. We all know how big a problem ocean plastic waste is so we decided to do something about it.
Some of you may be interested in the back story to how the OceanX project came about and how we are turning the ocean waste problem into sustainable products.
It’s been an epic story to make a positive outcome for the environment and bring the OceanX project to life. For many years I have been working with recycled, ocean plastics and biomaterial waste streams. A design project I did on the side of my usual marketing job. As a surfer, the ocean, nature and outdoor pursuits had always been my passion and I wanted, more than anything, to bring these things into my daily life.
I met Ben Gaby, another designer and environmentalist, at a local advertising agency who specialised in bikes. We were two freelancer designers wanting to ride bikes, boards and do good. We bonded over discussions about design, the environment, his work with Surfers Against Sewerage, trash-free trails, bikes, boards and the outdoors. We became friends instantly.
Ben and I had been in conversation for a while around my material design experiments and exploration. A side project I had going on exploring alternatives to plastics as well as recycled plastic waste streams. During my research, I had come across a recycled Cornish fishing net material and created a few prototypes. I was keen to demonstrate how we could make things from waste and turn problems into products.
Ben, being equally as passionate about the environment, uses recycled industrial plastic within Rideguards current range. He was interested to see if recycled fishing net material would be suitable for his mudguards and we could help clean our oceans together. I jumped at the opportunity and we started working together.
Recycled Fishing Net Surf Fin
Recycled Fishing Net Bicycle Mudguards
Recycled Fishing Net Prototype in action
Rideguard and Ecotribo became partners on what we ended up calling – project OceanX. Working with coastal communities on the collection and processing of end of life fishing nets. We are giving commercial value to this precious resource and preventing it from being discarded. By finding new avenues for this material we are protecting our oceans and marine ecosystems. Both of our missions are to make quality products whilst creating a sustainable business that is good for people and planet.
We got to work. I created a 3D printed prototype mudguard from the material to see if it would be suitable for the rigours of mountain biking. The tests were a great success and we have been working on finding suppliers of the material, liaising with them and ensuring manufacturers are happy to do this at scale. We worked out we needed a lot of money to make this happen so created a Kickstarter campaign in the hope that we could get some financial help from the community.
Within a few weeks, we had raised over £4,124! We had loads of interest from the community of riders, bike press, environmental groups and Pro riders.
Recycled Ocean Plastics – The Rideguard + Ecotribo OceanX Kickstarter Video.
But it was not enough. At over £4k we had not hit the Kickstarter target and we got nothing. We had to start again. It was a kick in the teeth that after so much interest we still did not get fully funded. After a week or so we dusted ourselves off and got back on the bike so to speak. We were not going to stop. We had loads of support and felt the community of riders behind us. We were going to have to do this on our own…
We looked at the budget again and by not going with Kickstarter realised we could save nearly half the money. (Kickstarters fees are 10% and the international postage has to also be included in the campaign, making things very expensive.) We had run a great campaign and had got lots of interest we could maximise. So without these extra expenses, we decided to fund it all ourselves.
Things have grown from strength to strength and I continue to be a part of the Rideguard team. We have collected 1 ton of fishing nets now and have a couple of pro riders on board who we have made custom designs for and want to help us promote the project. (They will be announced soon) The material has been processed and cleaned. The material has been made into sheets ready for the final process of printing the designs on.
We have been busy creating various video assets, social stories and designs for the range so keep an eye out on the Instagram profile. The launch is a lot of work as we do this amongst a day job.
As things stand we have cleaned 1 ton of material from our oceans, processed it and formed our sheet material ready to be printed. We are so close and things are looking good…
Bam! We have hit another bump in the road! Due to COVID -19, the material is sat in a warehouse and not moving as the factory has closed indefinitely… We are looking at other options and have found printers who can finish the job but it means new relationships, cutter guides and machinery…
We have been through so much to make this happen and it will. They say: ‘When victory is closest things get hard’. They also say… ‘it all works out in the end. If it’s not working out… it’s not the end.’
We have had to find deep reserves, meditate, listen to a lot of wisdom and read a lot of bumper stickers to get through. They have all helped. As have good friends, family and the community of riders and ocean lovers who have supported us. For you, for the oceans, the bike trails, the natural spaces we all love, we will keep going… For now, we need to pause and reflect. We need to think of all the good things that have happened and know the tide will turn. Stay tuned for new developments as we continue to find sustainable solutions to ocean waste.
If you are interested in finding out how the story ends, getting exclusive insider product testing information, please signup to the OceanX newsletter. We will be able to offer discounts, insights into our R&D and research, invitations to events and workshops. Signup, and be one of the first to know when we get the OceanX mudguard off the ground.