Gomi gives Lime scooter materials a second life
Tom Meades was taking a design course in 2017. The sustainability-minded student from Brighton, UK spent his final year of research exploring what everyday products might look like in the future, with an eye toward reducing plastic pollution. He began to experiment with second life uses for harder-to-recycle plastics that would make waste desirable so it might avoid landfills.
“We started melting this typically unusable plastic down and came to the conclusion that it was the mixes of vibrant colors in the plastic waste that could actually make it stand out and be desirable in new products,” recalls Tom.
From there, Gomi was born. The company’s mission is to transform materials, like trashed plastic, and give them a second life.
Their products now include an eye-catching array of portable speakers made from “upcycled” plastics (reusing or recycling of a product to make one of higher quality or value than the original), as well as a portable charger made from plastic waste and second life batteries--batteries once used for powering other consumer products.
Today, the young British team merges the art of product design with the science of material engineering. The name ‘Gomi’ meaning ‘waste’ in Japanese, was inspired by the team's love of minimal stripped-back Japanese design, and the contrast it has with their signature contrasting loud colours from their waste plastics innovations.
“We want to be the Patagonia of consumer technology products,” says Tom. “We’re creating the world's first consumer technology products made sustainably from second-life materials saved from landfill, whilst also making every single product look like a unique piece of fine art.
“In our commitment to circularity and toward continuously improving the sustainability of our service, we are intent on finding second life opportunities for parts of our vehicles which can no longer be used in repair, in particular for our batteries,” said Andrew Savage, Vice President of Sustainability at Lime. “Gomi’s technical expertise and innovative product line offer an exciting use for material which would otherwise be recycled.”
Lime has designed its products to be modular, meaning parts can be easily swapped out for repair, extending the life of its scooters and their parts. Most of the materials in Lime electric scooters and e-bikes can be easily recycled after they are no longer functional as spare parts. However, second life uses are more sustainable than recycling, and batteries present the biggest opportunity for reuse. In many cases, the individual cells that make up a battery still have full capacity to retain a charge and can be re-packaged and put back together for an entirely new useful life.
This takes some expertise, which is why Lime sees partnering with reuse experts like Gomi as having so much potential. Gomi is now taking apart the Lime battery packs used on its e-bikes and scooters that are otherwise damaged. They remove the cells, clean them and rigorously test each cell for capacity by recharging them and seeing whether they can hold a charge. Those that pass are destined for use in a future Gomi portable bluetooth speaker or portable charger.
The new partnership is the latest step Lime is taking in its commitment to circularity and is part of its broader Ride Green initiative to achieve carbon negativity by 2025 and net zero by 2030 following a science-based target. Last month, Lime and WWF, the global leader in conservation and climate advocacy, announced they were joining forces for healthier cities and in the fight against climate.
Lime continues to explore opportunities with companies like Gomi and other second life opportunities as part of its sustainability commitments.