The UK government has signalled its intent to outlaw the disposal of several waste streams, including bicycle tyres.
The dumping of automotive tyres has been illegal since 2003, however bikes tyres have been overlooked, despite being technically almost identical, due to the absence of a viable recycling scheme.
The Environment Bill 2020, which is currently working its way through parliament, will create a framework to allow the Department for Education, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to target specific types of waste. When questioned, DEFRA confirmed that once legislation is passed, tyres will be one of its five priority waste streams.
A survey conducted in partnership with the Association of Cycle Traders (ACT) in 2018 revealed in excess of 44,000 tonnes of waste bicycle tyres and inner tubes enter UK landfill every year, with this figure set to rise as participation increases.
Following the survey, work began on developing a UK collection and recycling scheme for bicycle tyres and inner tubes, which is set to be rolled out nationwide by the end of 2020.
The scheme, which is to be run by Velorim Limited, will see participating bike stores, workshops, hire schemes and cycle refurbishment centres all become local collection points. All rubber collected will be reprocessed into new materials or re-used in other ways, with zero going to landfill and none exported.
The scheme will be funded by consumers, as per government request, by means of a recycling levy of 50p per tyre and 20p per inner tube being charged for every scrap tyre received.
Velorim Chief Executive Dave Hawthorn said: “The introduction of the National Bicycle Tyre Recycling Scheme will mean that cycling can rightly claim to be the most environmentally responsible of sports.”
This rings true, as despite cycling’s eco credentials in the form of enabling active travel, minimising air pollution and congestion, among an array of other health and wellness benefits, it is fair to say the trade does have room for improvement when it comes to improving eco-friendly practices regarding waste disposal.
Although, there has been some good work carried out by those in the trade already, such as Schwalbe launching a shop-facing inner tube recycling platform at this year’s CoreBike show and Continental’s natural rubber replacement stemming from the root of Dandelion plants, to name but a couple.