Mateo Neri was one of the original co-founders of URB-E a cool new lightweight and foldable electric vehicle that is half bicycle and half scooter. The company started in January 2013 with Neri as the COO and brand director. But, as is the case with many startups, when big money came into the company, things changed. While Neri remains an URB-E shareholder, he decided to leave the company in June 2016 and build a company focused on sustainability. Neri wanted to help clean up the oceans.
Did you know that 3 million plastic water bottles are consumed per hour by Americans? And less than 30% are recycled? Many of those bottles find their way into the oceans, which is why Neri founded 8Hz, a company that makes backpacks from recycled plastic, rPET.
The bottles are collected, cleaned, shredded into flakes, and then turned into plastic pellets. The pellets are transformed into a yarn and then a fabric that is customized to the 8Hz color palette.
During his time at URB-E, Neri learned a lot about how to manufacture in the U.S. One of his goals for the new venture was to work with a U.S.-based partner, so he turned to a company out of Ventura, CA that has been making products for outdoor gear powerhouse Patagonia for 25 years.
"Our goal is to keep plastics out of the oceans and to use less petroleum-based materials,” Neri told Thomas. Depending on the size of the bag, it could be made with anywhere from three to 35 recycled bottles.
The company is currently ramping up production, although they did turn to a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo to drum up some interest and $14,892 in startup money/presales.
Right now, the bags are currently available on 8Hz's website. It's part of a soft entry to market with an official launch coming later this summer with a full line. The products will range from $20 to more than $100.
Once the company is up and running (and profitable), the company has pledged to donate 8% of net profits to various causes that help keep the oceans clean.
"Creating a sustainable company is just the right thing to do," says Neri. "Good products can be made with sustainable materials, and we need to take plastics out of the waste stream to prevent it from getting into the oceans. As a designer, it is too easy to not be sustainable and I think it is my responsibility to do better."
Mateo Neri, 8Hz, part of the solution.