A helmet’s primary function is, of course, safety. It serves as a vital piece of kit to protect a rider in the event of an accident. In turn, it’s also a part of cycling kit that often needs to be replaced and it's usually made of a laminated plastic outer. These characteristics mean that helmets have a hefty environmental impact and manufacturers of the best lids often don’t have the strongest green credentials. However, Swedish brand POC is one company that’s not prepared to accept that safety and sustainability cannot coexist in a helmet.
It’s with this in mind that POC has created the Myelin, its first helmet which has been constructed with 50% recycled material. What’s more, it has components which have been designed for recycling at the end of life. The Myelin features a unique-looking fabric weave shell – there has been no use of adhesives in the entire construction of the helmet.
“As a protection company our first priority is the safety of riders,” explains Claes Nellestam, Senior Designer at POC. “We also place on ourselves an obligation to use our planet’s resources respectfully. So, we wanted to challenge the conventional way of creating a helmet, in particular by starting with recycled materials, how it is manufactured and how it can be deconstructed so as to allow for all the materials to be used again.”
It’s a helmet designed for everyday use and commuting, rather than a race-focussed lid. It has a clean look which looks simple at first glance, but POC explains that the inner of the helmet been made through an advanced design process to try and fulfil the brand’s aim to create a recyclable helmet. Half the materials used in the Myelin are recycled, secured together with fasteners and the weave fabric outer shell.
Once the fasteners are cut at the end of the helmet’s life, it can be deconstructed into different parts safely and recycled where appropriate. In most defunct helmets, this would be mixed waste and not useful for recycling. The Myelin, on the other hand, can be deconstructed by anyone with the use of tools available in most homes and then recycled. The helmet has a snap fit system, similar to that seen in baseball caps, which allows riders to easily adjust the helmet to fit it as often as needed. The helmet straps are made into a single piece that crosses the entire helmet to keep everything secure, as opposed to using anchors moulded into the EPS as seen in traditional helmets.
POC’s Sustainability Manager, Marie Sjöström, explains: “By adopting a resource-efficient bio-circular perspective we have clear ideas on what resources are needed to fill the function of our products, choosing preferred materials such as recycled or bio-based. But also choosing materials that will maximise the product’s durability, lifetime and recyclability. Our goal is to keep improving, but we also want to show what is possible and lead the way in helping us all use resources in the best way possible.”
The Swedish brand’s choice to challenge the conventional way of designing helmets is a step towards having the highest level of safety while also minimising the negative environmental impact. Taking inspiration from a circular economy approach, POC’s Myelin is an example of what can be done when brands think outside the box, and presents the possibility of a much greener future for cycling kit.
POC's Myelin is available to purchase here and retails at £100 GBP