Schwalbe is proud to introduce the first Cradle-to-Cradle bicycle tube recycling program in the United States. Used tubes become new tubes. At Schwalbe, we believe that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility, which is why we are committed to reducing waste and promoting a full, closed-loop recycling system. Our program is designed to reduce the environmental impact of bicycle tubes by recycling them into new, high-quality tubes. This process decreases energy consumption by over 80% (including transport) compared to utilizing the same amount of virgin material.
The Cradle-to-Cradle design philosophy is a sustainable approach to product design that aims to create a closed-loop system where materials are continuously reused, and waste is eliminated. This process is the foundation of the tube recycling program, which seeks to minimize waste, conserve resources, and create a circular economy in which products are designed to be repurposed and reused indefinitely. For us at Schwabe, the Cradle-to-Cradle design philosophy has been the inspiration for many years.
The impact of discarded bicycle tubes on the environment is significant. Millions of tubes end up in landfills every year, where they can take hundreds of years to decompose. The production of new tubes also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and consumes non-renewable resources. To date, our program, operating for over 8 years in the EU, has already recycled more than 9 million tubes from 5 different countries. Today, every Schwalbe standard bicycle tube consists of 20% recycled content, and we continue to work hard to increase the portion of recycled material without adversely affecting the quality of the new tube.
Our closed loop recycling process starts with collecting used bicycle tubes of any brand or manufacturer from bike shops and enthusiasts. Once a bike shop collects up to 45lbs of used tubes, they will schedule a shipment via custom UPS portal to be sent back to Schwalbe free of charge. This process is designed to be simple and eliminate any barriers to participate.
We then transport the used tubes in bundles back to our recycling plant in Indonesia adjacent to our production partner Hung A who has developed their own, proprietary, devulcanization process to recover butyl rubber from the used tubes and recycle the remaining materials. These materials are then used to create a range of new high-quality bicycle tubes.
Sean Cochran, from Schwalbe North America, commented…”Since 2015, Schwalbe has been leading the way in Europe in establishing the circular economy within the cycling industry because for us, taking responsibility is not an option, but a natural part of our business. In a world where natural resources are increasingly exploited and under pressure, it’s important to develop and support real recycling technologies, NOT a down cycling scheme that is an extension of the linear economy. It’s estimated that nearly 10 million used inner tubes are discarded into landfills each year in the US…rather than seeing old tubes as trash, we see them in as a valuable resource to produce new, high-quality tubes. We are proud to announce that we are now launching our tube recycling in the US.”
One of the key benefits of the program is the reduction of waste and the energy required to produce bicycle tubes. By recycling used tubes, we not only reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills but help to preserve the environment and conserves natural resources. Schwalbe is proud to be part of a solution that reduces waste and promotes sustainable practices.
We understand that the success of our program depends on the cooperation of bike shops and enthusiasts. That is why we work closely with bike shops to collect as many used tubes as possible. We also encourage individuals to bring their used tubes to participating bike shops for recycling.
Starting June 1st, 2023, Schwalbe will begin a pilot program accepting used tubes from select dealers throughout the United States, growing to hundreds of dealers by the end of the year.
Our program is an example of how innovative thinking and environmental responsibility can lead to sustainable solutions. By working together, we can reduce waste, conserve natural resources, and create a better future for everyone. Join us on this journey towards a more sustainable world, one bicycle tube at a time.
Find more information about our tube recycling program here.
To find additional information on all Schwalbe’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, visit our sustainability page: https://www.schwalbetires.com/sustainability/