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buycycle WatchBlog: Schwalbe´s Tire Recycling System


The tire manufacturer Schwalbe wants to be 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 2022 the manufacturer launched a pilot project for this mission: Tire recycling.

Schwalbe thus returns used tires and inner tubes to the product cycle, avoids unnecessary waste and saves costs and energy in production.

So 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 preaching to choir: While the project started with just 50 retailers, by november 2022 there were already 1,300. We, too, have had the Schwalbe recycling box set up at our buycycle workshop last fall.

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, the pyrolysis, which allows for 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 fully circular economy saves 80% in CO2 emissions, according to the manufacturer - it therefore comes at no surprise that the endeavor received the Eurobikes Innovator Award in 2022.

But we are not the only ones who are happy to help in taking such an important step towards a sustainable bicycle industry through our Schwalbe recycling box. A bicycle dealer from Freising, Germany, could hardly believe his luck when the manufacturer introduced its recycling system at the beginning of 2022. He had been collecting used tires in a former beer cellar for a whole 23 years. 20,000 pieces had accumulated over the years, all picked up by Schwalbe last year.

Even though Schwalbe was the first manufacturer to remove old tires from the trash can 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 to produce surfacing and flooring for sports fields and playgrounds.

One thing seems certain, however: Across 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 ray of hope.

If you still have old tires or inner tubes at home, ask your trusted bike shop for the Schwalbe recycling box and bring them there this week. With this link you can also find online participating dealers in your area. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us and until then we wish you: Happy browsing, happy (re-)cycling!


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