Where can the bicycle industry go to recycle its carbon waste?

Back in November we ran an article on the back of a PinkBike poll, asking whether consumers have a conscience when it comes to bike trade recycling responsibility. The poll indicated that consumers do indeed care about industry wastage and would be inclined to buy from companies with a clean record. The problem? Little information is available detailing manufacturer’s records on recycling and alleged dumping.

CI.N set to work to find out where the industry turns to recycle its carbon fibre and the answers were, perhaps unsurprisingly, thin on the ground. One name did keep popping up though, CFK Recycling of Germany.

Our plant has been up and running since 2011 with a capacity to recycle 1,000 tonnes per annum of waste material,” says CFK boss Tim Rademacker. “For the bicycle business we recycle 15 tonnes per annum.”

Also recycling for the automotive, aerospace and other sporting goods industries, the bike business was an early customer of CFK, which for confidentiality reasons is unable to name those utilising the firm’s services.

“There has definitely been a rise in custom from the bike channel,” says Rademacker. “The bike industry was one of the firsts to approach us regarding recycling carbon bike frames. We have been working with the bike industry since 2011.”

Recycling is of course not free, but Rademacker asks “Is there a price on sustainability?”

“We can recover the material with production costs that are half of the virgin fibre production, but still have the same quality as the virgin fibre material,” he adds.

So what’s the process and where does reclaimed material end up?

“We are using a pyrolysis process, fibers are freed from resin and completely recovered by thermic treatment.The main difficulty from our point of view is not the process itself, but to find suitable applications for this secondary fibre material. Once recovered we are able to distribute the fibre as chopped and milled products, as well as wet laid veils and air laid nonwoven mats – depending on customers´ requirements,” concludes Rademacker.

Should your business wish to recycle its carbon scraps, CFK Recycling are contactable here.

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