With word-wide shortages of just about everything right now, it is no surprise that bike tyres are getting hard to find. But it is a surprise to find that they are also hard to get rid of.
Many bike riders are environmentally conscious and have recently been raising concerns about our industry and whether it can do more to recycle components and parts that are currently discarded into the general waste stream.
Some of the major industry players, Trek most prominently, are investing seriously in systems and technologies to reduce their carbon footprint.
But the humble bike tyre remains an ugly and ubiquitous waste product. Who hasn't seen a tube littering the roadside, or a worn tyre dangling from a garbage bin?
Many bike shops are doing their best, collecting the used tyres and tubes and providing them to specialist recyclers—a service the shops have to pay for.
But as individuals, there appears little opportunity to get your old tyre into the recycling process, other than refusing to buy online and instead getting your local bike shop to do the changeover. Another reason to patronise a bikeshop: it is good for the environment.
At another level, tyre manufacturers are now looking at opportunities to rethink tyre manufacturing so that recycling economics become attractive.
German tyre maker Schwalbe has recently launched a research project in conjunction with university and technology partners that aims to capture valuable raw materials from old tyres for use in new products.
Currently many used tyres in Germany are incinerated or end up in landfill.
The company hopes that the raw materials can be preserved for recycling within a closed-loop economy system, and is establishing infrastructure to support the recycling loop.
Schwalbe has been working towards improved sustainability and has a recycling scheme for inner tubes in some countries.
All bicycle tubes Schwalbe now produce are 100 per cent recyclable with the recycled material reused during the production of new tubes without any loss of quality.