Micromobility companies like Lime were enjoying peak levels of popularity before the pandemic hit. Electric scooters are a fun, easy way to get around for tourists and locals alike. In most parts of the world, the pandemic has decreased the need for transportation.
That isn’t the only challenge that companies like Lime have faced, however. Perhaps a bigger issue for the industry is longevity. Some studies have shown that the average electric scooter only lasts four months. In other words, micromobility companies are producing a ton of e-waste.
As such, Lime is pursuing a unique partnership that will help keep the batteries from its old e-bikes and e-scooters out of the landfill. The micromobility firm is working with Gomi, an accessory manufacturer, to make Bluetooth speakers out of its old batteries.
There’s a reason that “reuse” comes before “recycle” in the popular saying. Although recycling is good, reusing something is always better since it takes fewer resources and may even eliminate the need to buy something new.
Gomi’s limited-edition run of Bluetooth speakers certainly takes that idea to heart. The company plans to harvest more than 50,000 battery cells from 1,000 old Lime e-bikes. Using the batteries and recycled plastic from single-use shopping bags, it will churn out new speakers for consumers to buy.
Gomi is using a Kickstarter campaign to fund its project. It launched the campaign on Tuesday afternoon. At the time of this writing, it has already raised three times more than its total funding goal.
The speaker is designed to last up to 20 hours and fully recharges in just two hours. Users can even sync two units together for stereo sound.
“Early Bird” backers will be able to get their hands on a speaker for $179. The retail price will be $250. Although that’s a bit expensive for a Bluetooth speaker, the idea is that consumers are getting a product that’s also doing some good for the planet.
Some people may be worried about buying a speaker that’s powered by old batteries. Given the serious safety and performance risks posed by poor battery quality, that’s a reasonable fear. However, Gomi is working to ensure it isn’t a problem.
On its Kickstarter page, the company says, “All of the cells we use are tested to ensure that they are high-performance, safe, and are durable to last long periods of time in the chargers.”
Meanwhile, Gomi is also offering a “repairs-for-life return service” that lets consumers get their speaker fixed if something goes wrong. The speaker’s modular design means that components can be swapped out easily and recycled for future use to prevent waste.
Recycling batteries from old e-bikes is a great start. However, a bigger problem is lurking on the horizon. As electric cars continue to grow in popularity, the world will need to figure out what to do with all the batteries that are being produced once they are no longer functional.
Companies like Nissan and Mercedes-Benz are reportedly working on ways to reuse them by turning them into energy storage systems that help balance the power grid during surges and outages. That’s one viable approach. However, other creative initiatives will also be necessary.