There are many creative minds that have used recycled materials in their designs or products. That’s a very interesting and valuable contribution to a sustainable and ecologic society. Previous we have met Buddhist monks in Thailand who built a temple by using recycled glass bottles, an organization that used plastic bottles in the roof of houses of the poor to enter daylight, people who created entire houses using only recycled materials, two Dutch men who crossed from the North of Alaska to the most southern area of South America on bicycles made from bamboo to ask for support to start clean water projects in poor countries along their route and we’ve also met architects that apply recycled materials into modern day (re)construction(s).
A new amazing recycling invention can be added to the list above: the Alpha – a bicycle made from recycled cardboard.
It’s 100 % recycled, supports weight up to 485 lbs (220 kilograms), and with production costs only about $9 to $12 per unit. It’s very lightweight, with a frame that’s stronger than carbon fiber. The frame supports riders up to 24 times its weight. The bike counts with a belt-driven pedal system that makes it maintenance free and very reliable.
When the creator Izhar Gafni heard about a fellow who had designed a canoe entirely out of cardboard, he couldn’t shake the thought of it. Being a lover of bicycles, and being already a designer of industrial goods, he combined his love and his trade for an amazing product: a strong bicycle made from cardboard. Gafni is a very talented and creative mind and he has designed award winning industrial machines for peeling pomegranates and sewing shoes.
The sharp, streamlined creation of The Alpha took about three years to produce. The long timeline has to do with the fact that Ganfi was starting from scratch in a lot of ways.
“Very soon, I realized that there’s no actual know-how with this technique, how to work with the cardboard, besides making packages out of it,” says Gafni, “so I started to explore it, and then I figured out a lot of things out of it. “
In Tel Aviv, for example, where all but a few cyclists have had their bikes stolen at some point, low-cost bikes are all the more attractive and also weaken the sting of a steal. If the bicycle costs less than the lock required to keep it safe, the appeal and potential profit from stealing a bicycle are significantly reduced.
It was an arduous process where various engineers told Gafni that his design was impossible. And yet, due to his persistence Gafni is now working with a company to raise funds to manufacture an adult and child version of the bicycle.
Yet he realized that paper could be strong if treated properly. As in crafting origami and tearing telephone books, he explains,
“[if] you fold it once, and it’s not just twice the strength, it’s three times the strength.”
If he’s able to put his ideas into production, we could be looking at a truly amazing innovative product: a cheap and sustainable bike.