Bicycle helmets are a complicated product with many types of plastics. In developing a recycling program for bicycle helmets in Portland, Oregon, it has become apparent there is a large labor component. The collection, storage, volunteer disassembly, and final distribution of the different components to several recyclers consumes a lot of energy. Some helmets are not recyclable at all with current processing streams. And once the plastics are at the recycling companies, the materials are often shipped overseas, compounding the energy in recycling.
This all points upstream to a better designed and produced helmet. It is possible to build a more sustainable, longer lasting, less expensive, and comfortable bicycle helmet. It just hasn't been done yet. There is a market opportunity for such a wise product. I am curious if there is an interest in working on such a design project.
I am also looking for ideas for recycling bicycle helmets that could streamline the process. Perhaps helmets could be ground whole, mixing all the components into a fine feedstock for another process of manufacture or recombination. Mixed plastics to oil? What about other helmets - motorcycles, skiing, football, lacrosse, etc?
All ideas are good ideas. Discussion is the fertile bed of solutions.
Sweet satisfaction from participating in an eco-economical solution. Who knows, maybe there is a business idea in here somewhere.
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