• What do you do with your old bicycle tyres and tubes?
    What do you do with your old bicycle tyres and tubes?
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This is not so much an article as an informal survey about recycling.

Every bicycle workshop quickly accumulates a large quantity of old tyres and tubes.

Can you please tell me, what do you do with them?

Do you know of a local recycling service or do they just go in with the rubbish?

In particular we have had a request from a Melbourne based bicycle retailer asking is anyone knows of a recycler who is offering to recycle bicycle tyres and tubes.

Obviously there is a far greater volume of motor vehicle tyres consumed in Australia than bicycle tyres. According to the website www.recyclingnearyou.com.au in respect of motor vehicle tyres each year in Australia, the equivalent of 48 million tyres reach the end of their life, only 16% of these are domestically recycled. Around two thirds of used tyres in Australia end up in landfill, are stockpiled, illegally dumped or have an unknown fate.

End-of-life tyres and tyre derived products can be put to productive use in many ways which include:

  • The manufacture of new rubber products such as soft fall surfaces, artificial turf and conveyer belts
  • Road construction and surfacing
  • Alternative fuel source for producers of energy and cement
  • Brake pads and other rubber products.

Further research into the topic of tyre recycling reveals that the motor vehicle industry is a step ahead of the bicycle industry when it comes to tyre recycling.

Several years ago they created a new industry body called Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) to address that fact that only 10% of tyres were being recycled.

The major tyre importers agreed to pay a levy of 25 cents per tyre to fund TSA. This money goes into two main areas. Firstly accreditation of both tyre recycling companies and tyre retailers to ensure that they’re abiding by defined guidelines in relation to tyre recycling.

Secondly developing market opportunities for recycled tyre products, so that demand will increase over time and fewer tyres will end up in landfill.

For the purposes of recycling prices, contracts and counting, tyres are measured in ‘Equivalent passenger units’ (EPU). A standard car tyre is 1 EPU. A four wheel drive tyre is 2 EPU’s a truck tyre 5 EPU’s and so on.

Tyre recyclers typically charge $2 to $7 per EPU to pick up old car tyres, depending upon the location, volume and so on. Over 1,000 vehicle tyre retailers around Australia have now become accredited with by the TSA.

Clearly it would take a lot of bicycle tyres and tubes to make up a single EPU so a spokesperson for TSA suggested that the bicycle industry might like to work collectively in order to have an economically efficient volume of waste tyres and tubes for a recycler.

If you’re a bicycle retailer who is already recycling used tyres and tubes or you have any helpful contacts in this area, please respond using the discussion forum below.