Tire & Tube Recycling. Best Practices. Rubber, Recycling and You. The EPA estimates that Americans discard over 290 million car and truck tires every year. It also estimates that there are more than 275 million scrap tires that are simply stockpiled in tire yards across the U.S. Tires that arenâ€™t sitting in tire yards or recycled are either taking up space in our landfills or are being illegally discarded on the side of the road or on private properties. Despite the toxic chemicals it releases into the air and water, some people even try to get rid of their used tires by burning them. On the bicycle side, millions of tires and tubes are discarded each year by consumers and retailers, with the vast majority of these simply going to our already overflowing landfills. How can we as a group conserve landfill space, reduce toxic chemical emissions, and ultimately prevent further damage to the environment? The best way is to promote better use of bicycle rubber and become involved in rubber recycling.
Why Recycling? Recycling is the process by which old rubber that can no longer be used is converted into other types of products. According to the EPA, markets now exist for about 80 percent of scrap tires. This recycled rubber is used to generate highway sound barriers, playground surfaces, running track surfaces, railroad ties, rubber mats, soles for sandals and shoes, roof pads, fuel, tiles, and other products that can benefit our daily lives.
Tire Recycling. How can I find a tire recycling facility near me? 1. Check with local and regional government solid waste authorities for the availability of tire recycling programs. 2. Partner with a local automobile tire retailer and piggyback on their recycling program. 3. Partner with a local/regional tire recycler that accept bicycle tires for recycling. 4. Utilize Liberty Tire Recycling for pick-up and recycling of bike tires and tubes. Any shop can call Liberty Tire Recycling at 1-800-323-9614 to set up an account and then arrange for the pick-up of used bike tires. This number directs the calls to their national account team who can respond to dealers needs.
More on Liberty Tire Services Based in Pittsburgh with 15 facilities strategically located around the country. Liberty Tire Recycling arranges for in-shop pick-up of used tires and tubes— these used rubber products are recycled into rubber crumb. While specific costs can be negotiated by the individual bike retailer, Liberty’s recycling service basic cost is $1.50 per tire, with a 100 tire minimum. As an added benefit, Liberty will accept tubes at no extra charge from shops using the tire recycling service. The contact for Liberty Tire Recycling is Dick Gust at 773871-6360, ext 651. Trek is not directly involved with Liberty Tire Services in any way. Should a retailer choose to use the Liberty Tire Services option, all interaction takes place between the retailer and Liberty Tire Services.
Cost. Is there a cost involved in rubber recycling? Yes and no. The cost of recycling tubes through Alchemy Goods (at right) is covered by Bontrager. The cost of recycling tires depends on which system you utilize.
Cost recovery. To recover some of the costs associated with operating a rubber recycling program, some creative bike shops have been successful at including a “disposal fee” as part of what they charge for installing new tires. Some shops even go so far as to itemize the bill to include the cost of the tire, the labor, and the recycling fee. Anyone who has ever had his or her car tires replaced will be familiar with paying a “disposal fee,” which is standard practice in the car tire business. As a result, most customers are accustomed to paying this type of fee, and shops that do a good job of explaining the reason for the fee report very few customer complaints.
Tube Recycling. What about tube recycling?
How do I recycle a tube with Alchemy?
Bontrager and Trek have partnered with Alchemy Goods to reuse certain tube sizes to generate panniers and other bags to be sold through the Trek retail channel.
1. Prepare a box for the collection of recycled tubes. 2. Add the appropriate tubes to the box as they come in. 3. Seal the box when the box reaches more than 30 but less than 70 pounds. 4. Log in to Dexter. 5. Click on Tube Recycling (Services>Trek Services). 6. Fill in form (box weight, box dimensions, dealer account). 7. Print label and affix to box. 8. Hand the box to your local UPS driver or drop off at a UPS pick-up location.
Due to the constraints of the bag manufacturing process, they only accept the following tube sizes: + 26” mountain bike tubes + 700c and 27” hybrid tubes larger than 35c + Un-cut tubes (blowouts and patches are okay) They can’t accept the following tubes: + Tubes filled with sealant + Thick walled thorn-resistant tubes + Tubes smaller than 26” + Road tubes narrower than 35c Additional tube recycling companies can be found online.
Bontrager bag made from recycled tubes.
Bontragerâ€™s Best Practices for Retailers and Rubber. Tires
1. Encourage using tires as long as possible. 2. Check with local non-profits who may accept used tires that may have remaining tread, thereby extending their useful life. 3. Use ECO certified tires where possible. 4. Recycle the tires using a viable recycling program as described above.
1. Encourage the patching of tubes wherever possible. 2. When a tube appears to no longer be usable, recycle/ re-use it by: + converting road tubes to useful straps using IT-clips or tying them in knots; + sending larger tubes to Alchemy or other tube recycling programs. 3. Sell Bontrager bags made from recycled tubes and banners in your store.
What are ECO-certified tires? ECO-certified tires meet the following requirements: 1. 100% of the natural rubber in ECO tires is sourced from ISO14001 plantations that support sustainable harvesting practices. 2. The tires contain from 5% to 15% rubber that is reclaimed from manufacturing defects. This reduces the amount of scrap entering the landfill. 3. The tread compound has up to 50% longer life than a non-ECO design, allowing each tire to be used longer and reducing the number of tires entering landfills.
Summary. Reusing rubber reduces the amount of materials we have to produce, saves natural resources and energy, and reduces pollution. Plus, selling bags made from recycled materials in the same place where the materials come from shows customers how their used tires and tubes can be turned into cool new products.