The Portable Speaker Giving a Second Life to England's E-bike Batteries

With the arrival of spring breezes, many of us are looking forward to warmer days and time in the great outdoors—or, at the very least, to leaving our homes. But what is a cookout or beach trip without a great sound system? The Gomi Speaker, Gomi’s latest, marks the British brand’s third launch on Kickstarter and its second foray into sound equipment. A portable speaker made entirely from recycled plastics, it’s powered by upcycled e-bike batteries provided by Lime, the global leader in micro-mobility and a significant partner in Britain’s popular public bike share program. Utilizing a 25W speaker driver, bass radiator, and USB-C fast charging, the Gomi Speaker can stay powered for over 20 hours but is light and versatile enough to hook onto a backpack or belt with a slim recycled-PET rope attachment. In limited-edition, the zero-waste accessory is now available on Kickstarter through April 1 and comes in a marbled finish of Lime Green, Black Mono, Blue Ocean, or Birthday Cake, proving “sustainable” can also mean modern and well-designed.


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British manufacturing for the 21st century

With a deep commitment to community, Gomi makes all its products in a creative district called North Laine in the former factory town of Brighton, UK, relying on help from local creatives, designers, and makers. Tom Meades, Gomi’s cofounder, launched Gomi with an ambitious plan to reuse plastic bag waste from neighboring companies, which he then recycled in-house and melted into a range of products. With the success of their Portable Chargers and Wireless Mag Chargers, Gomi has been able to sustain its ‘repairs-for-life’ return policy, ensuring its goods until end-of-life-cycle and guaranteeing that they won’t at some point end up in the garbage. In the long term, the team hopes that by growing their product range and production capacities, they can work on a global scale, repurposing hard-to-recycle waste in a more hands-on and direct way.


Design schooled

Tom Meades, Gomi’s cofounder, has long worked in sustainable material design, also running sustainable design courses. “Gomi began as a university project while I was studying 3D Design & Craft at The University of Brighton, where I researched future ways humans could consume products sustainably, without the guilt of damaging the environment,” explains Meades. He quickly realized that he could process plastic waste and turn it into circular products capable of indefinite reuse. “I explored the idea of creating an essential tech product that we all love—a Bluetooth Speaker—but designing it to be infinitely repairable and recyclable.” After exhibiting his earliest prototypes around Europe, he began a relationship with his current business partners, Rishi Gupta (Finance and Operations), Kyle Brackenfield (Engineering and Electronics), and Pawan Saunya (Growth and Marketing), to turn the concept into a consumable product. 

Now working on a larger scale, the team sends plastic waste out to be recycled and palletized, the material then sent back ready for use. “We have ovens where we melt down the plastic at low temperatures,” explained Meades, who notes that keeping a low-melting temperature ensures Gomi can avoid producing noxious fumes and that the plastic can be recycled without degradation in the polymers—giving the materials a much longer lifespan. The team can then press the plastic between aluminum molds using a custom-designed electric compression-press, later hand-working the material to create the marble patterns that fans love and associate with the brand.

Once Gomi’s Kickstarter campaign ends, it plans to establish a facility in the U.S. to begin working with plastic waste stateside. The best part? “We will not have to ship waste materials but can use U.S. waste to make U.S. products and vice versa.” Currently, they are working with Lime to continue to upcycle the cells from their end-of-life e-bikes and e-scooters and expand the partnership.


New mission, same commitment

“We designed the Gomi Speaker to be a breath of fresh air,” continues Meades. “We’re on a mission to prove that tech can be environmentally-friendly, and fully-circular, while also being high-performance and aesthetic.” Meades feels that the ‘Gomi For Life’ promise and buy-back scheme for end-of-life recycling will continue to enable the brand to upcycle old products into new goods for decades to come. “We’re ensuring that the waste we save from the landfill never has to end up in a landfill again.”

Gomi is live on Kickstarter through April 1, 2021.

Source: core77

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