Dezeen Magazine

Better to transport by Thomas Hoogewerf

Thomas Hoogewerf tackles congestion in Mexico City with recycled plastic tricycle

Better To Transport is a tricycle made from recycled materials commonly found in Mexico City, with demountable components designed to be easily replaced over time.

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Thomas Hoogewerf created the Better To Transport tricycle as his final project after spending some time in Mexico City as an intern during his degree.

The main elements of the tricycle are made from recycled plastic, with additional metal supports for stability, which can also be made directly from waste. The aim is for the bike to be produced locally and at the lowest possible cost.

Mexico City is notorious for its heavy traffic, with many commuters sitting in jams for hours every day. Hoogewerf also discovered that the city was producing a large amount of plastic waste. He began his project by documenting the different ways plastic was used in the city.

Better to transport by Thomas Hoogewerf

"Plastic is a very good material to use for hygiene, especially for consumption in the streets," explained Hoogewerf. "Mexico is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Coca Cola consumer in the world, producing a large amount of PET bottles. Landfills in this mega city are growing and no real actions are taking place to solve this issue."

"If we start to invest in ways to re-use the material we can say that Mexico City has the biggest mine in the world for potential new future products," the designer told Dezeen.

He chose to focus on creating an open source solution to create a recycling process and a product that would be widely accessible.

Hoogewerf discovered that pressing waste plastic under heat to create a new solid was an efficient method for recycling as it could be used across a variety of plastics.

"Since plastic waste can become very difficult to wash and separate between varying plastic types, the pressing technique is a very workable method to also accept more hard-to-handle plastics," he said.

He chose to create a tricycle as a direct response to Mexico City's transport issues. Cycles offer a cheaper, cleaner alternative to cars and can be used to avoid the major delays on the city's roads.

The designs for the tricycle and the machinery needed to make it are available to download from an OpenWiki page to make them more accessible and can be adapted to suit different environments or even personalised.

The page includes projected costs and parts lists, and users can also share their own experiences and tips for making the bike.

Better to transport by Thomas Hoogewerf

"Since it has different metal and plastic parts which are mechanically connected, the bike is completely demountable," said Hoogewerf. "Weakened parts can be demounted and brought back to the local producer to be remoulded into new parts."

"This system could work with discount returns for cheaper newer parts and create an ongoing relationship between producer and customer," he added.

Better To Transport was on display at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show 2018 in Eindhoven in October, alongside designs for a bright-yellow portable toilet for women and an ecological packaging material made from the pith of a fast-growing plant.

A growing number of cities are seeking to encourage commuters to switch from cars to cycles to tackle congestion, pollution and obesity. Manufacturers have responded with a wide range of products, including an electric design that doesn't need a lock, minimal architect-designed Danish bikes and a super-light folding bicycle.