Watchblog, Schwalbe Tire Recycling Edition
The tire manufacturer Schwalbe wants to become more sustainable. The company's goals for the next few years include CO2 compensation for unavoidable business flights, sustainable mobility for the headquarters and the expansion of fair-rubber use in production. In the course of this, the manufacturer launched a pilot project in 2022: tire recycling.
Schwalbe thus carries used tires and tubes back into the product cycle, avoiding unnecessary waste and saving costs and energy in production.
1. how exactly is this supposed to work?
Schwalbe has set up its recycling boxes at various bicycle and sports retailers. Old tires and inner tubes are collected there and the boxes are then picked up regularly. In fact, the recycling system is really opening doors: While the project started with just 50 retailers, by November 2022 there were already 1,300. We have also had the Schwalbe Recycling Box in our buycycle workshop in our workshop.
Once collected, the tires and inner tubes end up at Schwalbe 's recycling partner Pyrum Innovations. The German company has developed a special recycling technology, pyrolysis, which enables huge CO2 savings compared to conventional tire recycling processes.
The delivered "waste" is shredded into steel, fabric and rubber granulate, the latter is then introduced into the pyrum thermolysis process. In this way, valuable secondary raw materials are obtained from the rubber granulate, including pyrolysis coke (rCB). Sounds chemical and complicated now, but rCB is ultimately nothing more than the material from which new tires can be made.
Schwalbe's resource conservation program and its contribution to a full circular economy saves 80% in CO2 emissions, according to the manufacturer - it's not for nothing that the endeavor received the Eurobikes Innovator Award in 2022.
2. in the right place at the right time
But we are not the only ones who are pleased to be able to help take such an important step towards a sustainable bicycle industry through our Schwalbe Recycling Box. A bicycle dealer from Freising, Ingo Ruhland, could hardly believe his luck when the manufacturer presented its recycling system at the beginning of 2022.
He had been collecting used tires in a former beer cellar for 23 years. 20,000 pieces had accumulated over the years, all picked up last year by Schwalbe.
3. vittoria follows suit
Even though Schwalbe was the first manufacturer to take old tires out of the trash and return them to the product cycle, they have not remained the only ones. Italian tire manufacturer Vittoria also launched a similar program: Vittoria collects all types and brands of used tires and takes care of transporting them to their recycling partner, Esosport, supported by the Italian cycling federation Federazione Ciclistica Italiana, among others. Unlike Schwalbe, however, the rubber granulate recovered is not used to make new tires, but rather surfaces and flooring for sports fields and playgrounds.
One thing seems to be certain, however: Throughout Europe, the bicycle industry is paying more and more attention to sustainability and welcomes support with open arms, for example in the form of such recycling programs. Even if there is still a lot of work to be done for a climate-neutral or even climate-positive bicycle industry, such news is a glimmer of hope.
If you still have old tires or tubes at home, ask your trusted bike shop for the Schwalbe Recycling Box and bring it there this week. Here you can also find participating dealers in your area online. At questions you can always contact us and until then we wish you: Happy browsing, happy (re-)cycling!