Bicycles are the most energy efficient form of transportation in the world, but the manufacturing of metal frames and components is energy and carbon intensive.
The Muzzicycle. A bicycle made of recycled plastic to replace at least some of the 2 billion in the world that are made of steel and aluminium.
In 1998, Juan Muzzi, a Uruguayan artist and mechanical engineer living in Sao Paulo, Brazil began research into PET and nylon materials including plastic bottles, shampoo containers, car dashboards and kitchen trash cans as a source of raw material, to make a plastic bicycle. It would not rust, be sturdier, more flexible and cheaper.
By 2008, Muzzi had found a way to integrate his molded frames with wheels, mudguards, pedals and seats, but it took four further years of testing to market the product to secure the seal of quality from INMETRO (Brazil’s National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality).
By then a plant had been built which could take in 17,000 tons (15,400 tonnes) of recycled plastic every year using it to produce 10,000 Muzzicycles per month in every colour of the rainbow.
With 200 plastic bottles going into each frame, the process uses far less energy than is required for making traditional metal frames, saving well over 5 tons (4.5 tonnes) of CO₂ emissions, although a steel bicycle frame will lasdt a lifetime.
In 2020, Do Bem, manufacturer of fruit juice made a promise to remove from the environment 100% of the amount of long-life cartons that it produces per year, approximately 44 million.
This has included the donation of 20 Muzzicycles to four ngos in Rio de Janeiro: “Champion Hug”, “Maré Development Network”, “Irmãos Kennedy Community Center” and “Yes, I am from the Middle”.
Additionally, while working with Teto and Ecolar, the polyaluminium used to line Do Bem’s fruit juice cartons would be recycled into glasses, tiles and floors – the last two items will be used in the construction of sustainable housing organizations.
The production of a tile, for example, takes 500 boxes. Each house has 20 square meters and is made with 63 sheets and 16 recycled tiles, which requires about 40,000 cartons
In 2012 after discovering the Muzzicycle, Juan Carlos Seguro of Medellin, Colombia set up Eco Muévete Seguro making and marketing his bikes as Re-ciclas, or Re-cycles. Seguro then partnered with a local recycling firm, Kaptar, which operates a network of bottle collecting machines that link to smartphone applications.
Bottle collectors, by depositing bottles in the machine, earn points that can be spent on benefits such as subway tokens and movie passes. Kaptar’s machines take in 2,000 polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles every day.
Now there is a waiting list of at least 2,500 people to buy a recycled frame bike that is custom made in Sao Paulo. Juan Muzzi is now planning to manufacture recycled child’s bikes and plastic wheelchairs.
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