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TECH NEWS

Ban on disposal of bike tyres in landfill moves closer

England and Wales set to ban bicycle tyres and inner tubes from landfill, says head of Velorim – which manages The National Bicycle Tyre Recycling Scheme

The banning of bike tyre and inner tube disposal in landfill looks to be a step closer after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) hosted a representation from The National Bicycle Tyre Recycling Scheme last month and heard that national coverage of collection points for used tyres and inner tubes is in place, according to Cycling Industry News

Cycling might have a lot going for it in terms of green and environmentally friendly credentials but tyres of all kinds are a source of pollution. Velorim, which runs The National Bicycle Tyre Recycling Scheme, says that in the UK over 9,300 tonnes of tyres and inner tubes go to landfill every year.

> How green are your bike tyres? What the big brands are doing, and what YOU can do to help

Velorim reported to DEFRA last month that it now has national coverage of collection points for used tyres and inner tubes and is set up to handle the increase in scrap that a ban on sending these items to landfill would generate.

It has been illegal to send automotive and agricultural tyres to landfill in England and Wales for two decades – since the introduction of the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 – but bicycle tyres are specifically excluded from the legislation. 

You can go to Velorim’s website and tap in your UK address or postcode to find your closest collection point. 

Velorim says, “Most centres are charging a recycling levy for the ecological disposal of tyres and inner tubes, typically 55p per tyre and 25p per tube.”

Although recycling inner tubes is a relatively straightforward process, tyres are more difficult because they can contain features like fibre reinforcement and steel beads. 

Velorim says that it has lots of options for recycling the collected tyres and tubes. Some of these generate revenue but the majority of waste is reprocessed at a cost, hence the recycling levy. 

The tyres and tubes end up as everything from non-slip flooring to surfaces used for cycle paths and footpaths. Some rubber is ground down to be used as a filler in new products and all high-tensile steel wire is recovered to be used elsewhere.

> Check out what Velorim does to recycle tyres and inner tubes in more detail here 

Cycling Industry News reports Dave Hawthorn, Chairman of Velorim, as saying, “This is a momentous day for the cycle trade with England and Wales looking set to be the first place in the world to introduce environmental controls on bicycle tyres and inner tubes that would ban them from landfill and limit overseas disposal.

“Whilst we respect that it will take time for DEFRA to go through its consultation process, we are not expecting objections to be raised now that the recycling scheme is operational nationwide, particularly as the burden of cost lies on the consumer, not the trade. We stand ready to accommodate what we anticipate being a twenty-fold increase in scrap volumes once legislation changes and the public are made aware.”

Whatever the timescale, the banning of the disposal of bike tyres in landfill looks inevitable with DEFRA saying it’s committed to consult on measures that move end-of-life products higher up the waste hierarchy.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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48 comments

Avatar
Don't like hills | 10 months ago
1 like

Just did a search on my nearest recycling point. It didn't included the nearest cycle shop and also didn't include the 2 local halfords, which was a surprise as they are supposed sell the most bikes in the UK. 

Also why not sign up local refuse centers?

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hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
2 likes

Seems to me that the logical answer to recycling bike tyres is to make use of the tyre delivery network i.e. the seller of the tyre should be made responsible for arranging recycling of it. Maybe include a small deposit amount in the price (who remembers the deposits on glass bottles for fizzy drinks?) that can be reclaimed if you take the tyre to a recycler or reclaimed by the shop for returning them to the manufacturer/recycler. That way, there's an incentive for bike shops to take them in and get them recycled.

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Russ @ Velorim replied to hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
1 like

That is the kind of approach we are working on, which is why all Velorim Centres are bike shops!

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hawkinspeter replied to Russ @ Velorim | 9 months ago
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Russ @ Velorim wrote:

That is the kind of approach we are working on, which is why all Velorim Centres are bike shops!

However, we'd like to see all bike shops be Velorim Centres or equivalent.

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Keesvant | 10 months ago
0 likes

I think it's great, i go thrue a about 2 tyre sets a year.
I'd like to have them recycled. And do not mind paying for it (dispite me being dutch)Though i also think the manufacturer should be obligated to do that..
Up to now that is not the case, to nice setup !
Been saving old tyres to have them recyceled

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Russ @ Velorim replied to Keesvant | 9 months ago
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We are already working with some cycle tyre manufacturers to enable them to use our scheme to recycle their tyres (or the ones you replace by buying their product) at their cost. It's not up and running yet, but it is in the pipeline.

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Mungecrundle | 10 months ago
1 like

Q. Why can bicycle tyres not be recycled at the same facilities as car tyres? Don't they all start the recycling process via a shredder and contain similar recoverable materials?

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Russ @ Velorim replied to Mungecrundle | 9 months ago
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Firstly over 50% of all tyres are incinerated or used as fuel (e.g. cement making), either here in the UK or by exporting them overseas for the same, which I think you will agree is not environmentally friendly and does not fit the ethos of cycling. Second, the steel wire that is present in most bicycle tyres in the bead-edge, does not get cut by a normal car tyre machine, such that it then wraps itself around the machine cutting head (like hair on your vacuum cleaner), jamming it completely.

The only way to remove it and get the machine working again is to completely dismantle it (yes, really!!!), e.g. every single cutting tooth needs taken out, wire removed and then fully reassembled. It cannot be simply cut it out (like hair) as the steel is so hard it dents most cutting tools. We have developed a specialised machine that will rip bicycle tyres, including the steel wire, apart so the materials can then be recycled.

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ooblyboo | 10 months ago
4 likes

I don't want to throw my tyres away. Recently, I made a point of taking several dead tyres to the local 'recycling centre' thinking they could be...you know...recycled. What did they tell me to do with them? Chuck them in the compactor for landfill. Apparently there was no facility to recycle them. So if this ban comes into force then people on the ground need to know how and where to recycle. And ideally it needs to be as easy as possible to do.

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Russ @ Velorim replied to ooblyboo | 10 months ago
0 likes

The reason we founded Velorim was because we found out through running a bicycle recycling charity that over 7 million tyres and over 40 million inner tubes go to landfill in the UK every year. As individuals who are respectful of the environment, we decided to do something about it, which is why Velorim was born.
There are 2 things you can do to recycle your tyres. First, go to the Velorim web site and search for your nearest Velorim Centre and take your tyres there so that we can recycle them.
If you don't have a Velorim Centre near enough to you, you can send us the details of your own local cycle shop via the Contact Page. We will then contact them and ask them to join the scheme so you can recycle your tyres through them.

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Heather1 replied to Russ @ Velorim | 10 months ago
0 likes

Dear Russ.

I've just checked your site for my nearest recycling point. If what I saw was typical, your coverage is totally inadequate. I live in Havant, in the densly populated SE corner of Hampshire, and my nearest recycling centre is shown as nearly 17 miles away !!! The 'nearest' site is in Gosport, down a heavily populated and congested peninsular, so not en-route to anywhere either. That is most definitely not national coverage. I could waste a gallon of petrol, and use an hour and a quarter of my life, and then spend 2 or 3 quid.  Don't see that happening somehow. You don't even have a site in Portsmouth, a city of a quarter of a million people.

The bin beckons !

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Russ @ Velorim replied to Heather1 | 9 months ago
0 likes

Hi Heather.
Drop us an email to info [at] velorim.co.uk with details of your nearest local bike shop and we will invite them to join the scheme at your request. Then you will only have a short journey!

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WBoy | 10 months ago
4 likes

Inner tubes are easiest recycled at home. They make by make far and away the best ties for shrubs, brussels sprouts/other tall brassicas, and many other uses in the garden. Some sizes are also great at retaining bar tape.

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Russ @ Velorim replied to WBoy | 10 months ago
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Yes, these are all good uses for inner tubes. However, our research shows that these re-use applications along with the making of craft products, etc. account for only a fraction of 1% of the waste inner tubes we throw away every year.

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Bmblbzzz | 10 months ago
5 likes

The requirement to recycle is a good one. But it's not really going to work, because most people are not going to pay, even if it's only 55p, coupled with the inconvenience of having to go somewhere specially for the task, when most bike tyres are of a size and construction that can easily be cut up and disposed of in your wheelie bin with no one knowing. 

Also, 9,300 tonnes of bike tyres and tubes disposed of per year? If we allow a generous 1kg per tyre, that's 9.3 million tyres... 

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Bmblbzzz | 10 months ago
3 likes

Interesting point that... I'd say there are not many tyres over 600grams, and actually an average weight of 500grams would be a fairer average. That's over 18million tyres a year! 

I suspect a bit of hyperbole there... calculated on x amount of bike sold, two sets of tyres and tubes a year = x tonnes.

But in reality we all know that other than hardened enthusiasts, and over enthusiastic skidding kids, most bikes die using the same tyres they were born with. 

 

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Russ @ Velorim replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 10 months ago
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Figures on the actual number of tyres is difficult to quantify due to the fragmented nature of the cycle market, but we do know that it is significantly over 7 million per annum. 

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Russ @ Velorim replied to Bmblbzzz | 10 months ago
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When you buy a product, whether it is a fridge, computer, car, bike or just a tyre, the manufacturer and the buyer of that product both have an obligation to responsibly recycle or reprocess that item when it has reached the end of its useful life. When you take your car to have a new tyre fitted, you pay about £5 or more in fees to cover the cost of recycling your old one.
Velorim, along with the cycle trade, are following that same approach. It is our intention that in the future manufacturers will absorb the cost of recycling as part of their environmental responsibility.

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RoubaixCube | 10 months ago
2 likes

I once randomly asked my LBS if they recycled old bike tyres as I had a few of them to throw away and his response was to do what they did and just throw them in the bin. He went on to highlight that this was due to each tyre manufacturer having different ingredients/rubber compounds in their tyres so you cant really take them somewhere. Dump them all in the same smelting pot and melt them down as whatever comes out will have some weird sort of consistency and probably not something that can be re-used...That and having people to seperate different brands/manufacturers and tyres based on the rubber compounds they use isnt cost or time effective as you'll need to hire people to manually sort them.

Ive visited websites like Velorim who recycle tyres but apparently there is a cost between £0.50 - £3 per tyre involved which is counter productive IMO

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Russ @ Velorim replied to RoubaixCube | 10 months ago
1 like

We have been working with several Universities to test numerous tyre brands and they all contain the same consistent type of rubber. We have also developed methods to separate and recover those materials to enable them to be recycled.
Yes there is a cost to recycling, but it is far less that what it will cost us if we do not do it.

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Jimmy Ray Will | 10 months ago
3 likes

I'm sorry, but can I check my understanding here.

A private organisation is lobbying government to make disposing of bike tyres in any other way than paying the private organisation money, illegal? And from the tyres that people pay to deposit with said profit making organisation, they will recycle these for profit?

Have I got that right? 

Seems all kinds of fcuked up to me. 

 

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 10 months ago
4 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

I'm sorry, but can I check my understanding here.

A private organisation is lobbying government to make disposing of bike tyres in any other way than paying the private organisation money, illegal? And from the tyres that people pay to deposit with said profit making organisation, they will recycle these for profit?

Have I got that right? 

Seems all kinds of fcuked up to me. 

 

Seems like a perfectly acceptable thing for a company to do. They are being very transparent about it. If it's in the public interest (which in my view it is, but we have a government which should aggregate the public interest) the government should act accordingly.

There are countless other examples where the government has legislated that for-profit companies must be used. Car insurance for example.

If they were privately lobbying for something that was against the public interest, or lobbying the MPs of a specific party in particular, I would be concerned but they don't appear to be doing that.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 10 months ago
3 likes

Oh OK... I've clearly been looking at life all wrong. 

Based on the success of most recycling initiatives, I am dubious as to the level of public benefit this could provide. 

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Russ @ Velorim replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 10 months ago
0 likes

You live already in a society that on average recycles 50-60% of your household waste, with technologies developed by many different private organisations. We believe that the waste we generate as cyclists should also be recycled, particularly as we claim to participate in the greenest form of transport, but have so far conveniently ignored the rubber waste that the activity of cycling generates.
We now have the technology to change that and by making cycling 'greener', we set the standard for other industries and activities to clean up their act also. 

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Capt Sisko | 10 months ago
4 likes

With batteries, essentily if a shop sells them (min 32kg per year which is equilalent of one pack of 4 AA batteries per day), then they have to have a recycling point. Why can't something very similar done for bike retailers? Don't treat it as another onusios chore the shop now has to do, threat it was as way of getting the customer through the door.

Unfortunately many shops aren't so savy and I suspect many, that after being rejected by the local recycling centre and taken back home, they will simply be folded up, zip tied to keep it unravelling and thrown in the none recycling wheelie bin.

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Russ @ Velorim replied to Capt Sisko | 10 months ago
0 likes

32kg is as few as 7 high capacity e-bike batteries. If they develop a fault, they can spontaneously ignite and no fire extinguisher will put out the fire. There have already been e-bike shops in the UK who have had suffered serious damage as a result of an e-bike battery blaze.
Disposing of a Lithium battery in the household waste is extremely dangerous. The manufacturer of some of our equipment also make processing equipment to recycle these batteries and it is the size of a small steel container, but with side panels thicker than a Challenger Tank to contain the blast when one explodes. Because they are dangerous, they have to be stored and transported in special containers with specially trained drivers.
As Velorim already have over 600 centres, all in cycle shops, across the UK, last month we launched our battery recycling service to the cycle industry. We provide the safe storage containers with built-in fire suppressent material to the store and collect waste batteries regularly to minimise the risk and responsibly reprocess these items.
If you have a faulty e-bike battery that you need to dispose of, send us details (via our Contact Page) of your local bike shop where you bought the bike from. We will contact them to get them engaged on the scheme and let you know so you can take your battery to them to be recycled.

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hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
8 likes

Whatever next! A ban on chucking away your broken Ultegra cranks?

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RoubaixCube replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
0 likes

those are made up of recyclable metal alloys though.

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justinclayton66 | 10 months ago
3 likes

I took a few old bike tyres to council recycling centre a few years ago. They didn't accept them, even though they accepted car tyres.

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Backladder replied to justinclayton66 | 10 months ago
5 likes

I tried the same, they said they didn't accept bicycle tyres but if it was a wheel with a tyre on it they would accept it! Now all I need it about 20 scrap wheels  2

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