A British firm has launched a new portable Bluetooth speaker that makes use of repurposed batteries from Lime e-bikes and is made out of old plastic bags. Lime says that the Gomi speaker is the first time old e-bike and scooter batteries have been used for a new consumer product.
While recycling can divert a proportion of battery waste from landfill, the process generally involves energy-intensive high temperature melting and extraction.
Furthermore, the Telegraph reports that according to a 2019 estimate by the UK consultancy Circular Energy Storage, only about half of lithium-ion batteries that reached the end of their lives in the previous year ended up being recycled.
Gomi’s approach is to test the cells in discarded batteries, reusing any that still have viable capacity.
They’d previously been importing used battery packs from a supplier in Germany but have now started using those that were in Lime’s first UK rental fleet from 2018.
Quite a large proportion of each battery is usable it seems.
"We want to provide a solution and prove that these cells can be repurposed – most of them are fine, capacity-wise,” said Gomi founder, Tom Meades. “There might just be one or two that are not, and that might mean the product gets taken off the road."
Gomi keeps any cell that still has at least 95 per cent capacity left. They are then used in portable chargers and Bluetooth speakers made out of waste plastics collected from the food industry.
Lime's head of sustainability, Andrew Savage, commented: "What we found is that a significant number of the cells within the battery can be reused, even though it no longer is a battery that's sufficient for transportation use in our own products.
"To be able to use a significant portion – over 90 per cent of the battery – for this second life is a phenomenal use of the technology. Anything that we can do to extend life of the product and not have to recycle, that is an ideal circumstance for us."
A limited edition of the speaker is available on Kickstarter from £99.
Lime recently announced that the next generation of its e-bike would use the same battery as its e-scooters.
Other features include a built-in phone holder, an integrated electric lock and a more powerful two-speed motor.
New e-bike just dropped 🚲 pic.twitter.com/m0BkEKkgSc— Lime (@limebike) March 1, 2021
Gizmodo reports that the new bike comes as part of a $50m investment that will see the firm expand into 25 new cities in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and North America over the course of this year.