Best Ideas 2022 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solutions or propositions for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.
Explain your idea in details:
EcoTire is a social venture aimed to reduce the environmental harm from the rubber tires and microplastics in the ocean waste by presenting an airless, rubberless tire made of recycled microfibers and bioplastics. Traditional airtires are made of plastics and rubbers that are non-biodegradable. The burning of rubber tires releases carbon monoxide and cyanide which cause lung damage. In addition, 27 million scrap tires are sent to landfills per year, which is one of the key factors of habitat destruction. Rubber tires contain heavy metals and carcinogens that negatively impact soil and water. In addition, over 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year and tiny plastic fragments called microfibers flow into the water stream during washing of fleece jackets and blankets. Tire companies such as Michelin are developing airless tires, but none of the companies utilize a material like microfiber yet, as its research is new. Microfiber is a low-cost, eco-friendly alternative with no use of rubber and toxic chemicals. Microfiber is a type of synthetic fiber, consisting of polyester and polyamide. Polyester is a type of plastic that creates the body and structure while Polyamide is a type of nylon that lends its density and absorbency. Microfiber develops an electrostatic charge, which offers appropriate shock resistance and functions better in harsh weather conditions. Microfiber is a lightweight fiber and will do a great job of imitating the properties of an inflated tire if the design is perfected. For a desired quality of reinforced microfibers, the blending materials can be obtained from PLA bioplastics which exactly mimic the quality of polyethylene and is often made in same facilities that produce ethanol. PLA is the cheapest source of bioplastic now available as low as $970 per ton and help reduce the greenhouse gas emission by 67%.
Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development
Flat tires, tire blowouts, and worn-out tires are the most common issues associated with traditional air tires. It is estimated that every second, seven flat tires occur in the United States alone, which is 220 million flat tires per year. As of 2021, the replacement tires take up to 85% of total tire shipments per year. Airless tires mitigate the risk of a flat tire and significantly reduce the demand for replacement tires and environmental harm. Also, many studies across the world now suggest that a considerable number of people do not even know how to replace a flat tire. The fatality rate because of tire-related issues has been more than that of cell-phone driving deaths, exceeding 700 fatalities each year. Globally, about 1.4 million people die in road accidents per year and 3,700 people lose their lives daily on roads. There is also a growing concern over the road safety of electric scooters as there were 25,400 injuries and death from electric scooter road driving in 2020 in Seoul alone. Considering that even small damage in the complex inner circuits of a vehicle can cause the entire vehicle to break down, shock resistance will be crucial especially for low-speed two-wheel vehicles such as electric scooters, wheelchairs, and childrens bicycles. The cost of rubbers and synthetic polymer even takes up half of the raw material cost of rubber tires, which leads to 20% gross margins in tire industries. The price of natural rubbers is high and fluctuates every year. By reusing the recycled microfibers, we will be able to cut down the raw material cost and offer EcoTire at half the price of other airless tires, which we believe would drive the market penetration of EcoTire much faster and easier towards its sustainability goal and mission as a social venture.
Plans for implementation and sustainability
Asia is the largest electric scooter market with a global share of 70% as major electric scooter manufacturers have emerged from China, Taiwan, and Japan. Several government policies to transform mobility into green and eco-friendly by the year 2030 have also empowered the significant growth of electric scooters in Asia. The number of electric scooters in Seoul has spiked in recent years with 17 companies operating with 55,000 units near 100+ subway stations in Seoul in 2021. EcoTire will target the fastest growing electric scooter market in Korea first (with market size of US$120 million which is expected to reach US$11 billion by 2030) and plan to expand into wheelchairs and childrens bicycles. Our business will be focused on airless design and material R&D while partnering with other innovative players in sourcing, material processing, and manufacturing which include HS Chemical, Parlet Ocean & Algae Lab, HK Tire, Green Chemistry and more. We will focus on small wheels with dimensions of 10 - 16 inches. We can minimize our setup and lead time of material processing and lab testing, and also make a quick production cycle by focusing on small wheels. The average rubber airless tire for 10-inch wheels is priced at US$45. We expect a price cut of 40-50% of the market price and offer EcoTire at US$23-27. will operate with an online B2B model and its low price and low maintenance feature will be a strong sales point to the electric scooter manufacturers and operators. We will reach out to government funds, Eco+ Start-up challenge, available for environmental, safety-related inventions. Also, we will try investing platforms such as SeedInvest and StartEngine for international investors and Wadiz for domestic investors in Korea as well as venture capitalists who recently invested in electric scooter companies in Korea.
My name is Daniel H. Park from the United States. I am currently 16 years old and am passionate about social entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability. I am interested in entrepreneurship because I believe it is a way of how we understand the world and connect with other individuals. I earned the Genius Olympiad Award and Conrad Innovator and attended the Launch X Program with the Top Start-Up Pitch award. I also work as the Youth Goodwill Ambassador as well as the board member of the Environmental Action Committee at school.