Schwalbe ups its eco efforts with tyre recycling pilot

In close collaboration with Pyrum Innovations AG and the Technische Hochschule Köln – University of Applied Sciences, Schwalbe has begun a pilot project to develop an innovative bicycle tyre recycling system.

The project partners are carrying out research within the framework of a Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), in German referred to as ZIM and supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), to develop a sustainable recycling system for used bicycle tyres.

The aim is to prevent the incineration of tyres, or seeing them sent to landfill. Instead the hope is that the raw materials can be preserved for recycling within a closed-loop economy system. Schwalbe is planning to use the valuable secondary raw materials generated during the recycling process of old tires for the production of new products.

Simultaneously, the family enterprise is in the process of establishing an extensive infrastructure to support the recycling loop.

Schwalbe has been working towards improved sustainability and recycling for many years, introducing its recycling scheme for inner tubes to the UK in 2020. In what may not be a widely known fact, all bicycle tubes Schwalbe now produce are 100 per cent recyclable.

The recycled material taken from used goods it receives is reused during the production of new tubes without any loss of quality. For a closed-loop product life cycle and concerted recycling process design, Schwalbe won the German Sustainability Award 2021 in the category ‘Pioneers’. The pilot project ties in with these efforts by developing a sustainable recycling system that is also suitable for used bicycle tyres.

This week, CyclingIndustry.News has published an assessment of progress made across the industry on tube and tyre recycling, as well as notoriously dirty and hard to re-use carbon fibres. To read more on that, see here.

Various innovative technologies exist in the marketplace that can now take a wide range of feedstocks, ranging rubber through plastic and forestry waste, converting these to fuels such as hydrogen or other high value fuels that can then be used to power vehicles or heat homes.

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